There is so much to love about sweet potatoes, from roasted sweet potatoes to sweet potato pie. And, the best thing about these tubers is they are easy to regrow at home. Discover how to grow sweet potatoes from sweet potatoes by producing splits and planting them in the garden, as well as ways to care for your plants for a healthy harvest at the end of the growing season.
Sweet potatoes are a southern staple enjoyed by everyone. These plants belong to the morning glory family, and the starchy, mildly sweet flavor of their orange flesh makes them perfect for various dishes.
They are so versatile that they taste great when sweetened with brown sugar or seasoned with garlic and rosemary. Since nothing is better than homegrown vegetables, so why not learn how to grow sweet potatoes in your own garden bed?
Regrowing Sweet Potatoes in the Vegetable Garden
Nature is a splendid thing since it provides us with everything we need to grow food, and a trip to your local nursery isn’t necessary.
Like when planting yams and regular potatoes, sweet potatoes regrow from a mature potato, forming new plants and tubers. All you have to do is pick fresh and healthy potatoes from your grocery store and follow a few simple steps.
Sweet potatoes do not grow from seeds – there is no difference between yam and sweet potato in this regard. Instead, these tubers regrow from the rooted part of a mature potato called a slip. Growing sweet potatoes from slips is a great way to regrow food, and each potato provides you up to five sprouts for new plants.
However, they are only suitable for growing if you live in a warm climate since they are slow growers. Most vegetables, including sweet potatoes, are relatively simple plants to grow.
There are still a few important things to understand to produce healthy plants. Where is the ideal place to grow tubers, and how long do sweet potatoes take to grow?
Learn the answer to these questions and the best way to grow your own sweet potato vines in the garden or raised beds.
Growing Sweet Potatoes from Slips
Growing sweet potatoes from slips turns one potato into many. Each section of potato produces several sprouts, and each slip grows new sweet potato plants.
This growing technique takes a little time, but it is a very easy way to produce abundant potato plants for the garden. Here is how to grow sweet potato slips in a sunny kitchen window.
First, choose a healthy sweet potato from the store as the way to grow sweet potatoes indoors. Most grocery store potatoes are Beauregard, Georgia Jet, and Centennial potatoes, so make sure to choose one that is healthy-looking without damage.
Wash the potato under running water and slice it in half. Choose a glass or jar that is large enough to fit the size of your potato and fill it with water.
Press four toothpicks around the perimeter of the rounded part of the sweet potato and balance it on the glass rim so that the cut half is beneath the water.
Set the jar on a sunny windowsill, change the water every few days, and wait for it to begin sprouting in two to four weeks.
Once the potato has a good amount of healthy sprouts, twist each one off carefully with your fingers and transfer them to a new jar of water.
Ensure the stem is beneath the water while balancing the leaves on the rim and set them back in the sunny window. Add fresh water daily for three days or until roots develop.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in the Garden
After growing sweet potato plants by sprouting them indoors, it’s time to transplant the slips in the garden or raised bed. Discover ways to prepare the garden soil for planting and how to plant the seedlings in the ground with the right sweet potato plant spacing and depth.
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are warm weather plants with a long growing season, and they grow ideally in USDA hardiness zones 7 and up. After the last frost, when the nighttime and soil temperatures are above 60°F, prepare the garden for planting.
Choose an area where the plants receive no less than six hours of full sun each day. Each vine grows up to ten feet so make sure they have plenty of room to grow.
Till the ground 12 inches deep and remove rocks and debris to make the soil as loose as possible. Check the soil pH to ensure it is neutral and amend it with peat moss or wood ash as needed. If you decide to plant them in raised beds, use sandy, loamy potting soil.
Dig holes 12 to 24 inches apart and bury the root ball of the plants about a half-inch up the base. Spread mulch over the garden as ground cover to stop weeds and retain moisture, and water the new plants right away to help them settle.
The vines spread outward as the plants grow, while the tubers grow six to 12 inches beneath the dirt.
For the optimum harvest, find out what flowers, veggies, and herbs grow well with sweet potatoes and take advantage of companion planting benefits.
Caring for Sweet Potatoes as They Grow
Once you have your new slips firmly planted in the ground, it’s time to give your plants some tender loving care to produce healthy growers.
Learn what your potato plants need to thrive, from water to food, and things to watch for as your garden fills with sweet potato vines.
Sweet potato plants require a lot of watering when they are new, so water them daily. Once they settle, gradually lessen the amount of water you give them as time progresses until they receive water once a week.
You will need to formulate a gentle organic sweet potato plant fertilizer, as they do not require fertilizer like other vegetable plants. In fact, too much nitrogen causes the plants to grow bushy foliage and small tubers. The best way to feed your plants is to ensure the loose soil is at the right pH level.
Mulching is important in a sweet potato garden, so consider spreading black plastic mulch to help warm the soil and trap heat, especially if you live in a colder climate. It also holds in moisture and makes the job of weeding easier.
As your vines grow, keep an eye out for common sweet potato pests, like the sweet potato weevil, white grubs, flea beetles, and cucumber beetles.
If you notice chewed leaves, damaged stems, and other signs of insects, remove them by hand right away and use a natural insecticidal soap for treatment.
How Long do Sweet Potatoes Take to Grow?
How long do sweet potatoes take to grow before they are ready for harvesting? Unfortunately, the sweet potato is a slow grower, depending on which types of sweet potatoes you plant; patience is required as you wait for harvest day.
When starting sweet potato slips from a mature potato, they take two to four weeks to sprout and about three days to grow roots.
The waiting time begins after you plant them in the garden. Sweet potato plants have an extended fruiting time that ranges from three to four months, depending on the cultivar.
Harvesting, Curing and Storing Sweet Potatoes
Your hard work and patience paid off, and your sweet potatoes are finally ready for harvesting. Find out how to tell when your sweet potato tubers are ready to harvest, how to dig them from the ground, and how to cure and store your crop to keep them fresh. It’s also necessary to learn when sweet potatoes are gone bad so you don’t waste time with them.
Sweet Potato Harvest
To harvest sweet potato leaves, clip them with moderation throughout the growing season. Once the leaves begin to turn yellow before the first frost, it’s time to get ready for harvesting.
To harvest the tubers, gently dig down around the plant base. Sweet potatoes grow fairly close to the ground surface, and the skins are tender, so be careful while digging to prevent damage to the tubers.
Pull the potatoes out of the ground and set them in an area to cure. Curing is an essential step to help the tubers develop flavor and grow tough skin.
Store them in a place with a temperature between 85 to 95°F and a humidity level of 80 to 90%. After five to ten days, they are ready to eat.
To store sweet potatoes after curing them, keep them in an open and dry area where the temperature is around 70°F. Do not keep them in the fridge or store them in a plastic bag to ensure that the sweet potatoes last for many months.
Explore and find your favorite way to preserve sweet potatoes for tasty recipes later. You’ll be glad you did.
Growing sweet potatoes is both easy and satisfying. Sweet potato plants are simple to produce, and knowing how to care for them as they grow rewards you with an abundance of potatoes for your pantry at the end of the season.
We hope that learning how to grow sweet potatoes from a grocery store potato keeps your veggie garden full of healthy and delicious tubers, and we’d love it if you’d share our sweet potato growing guide with the gardeners in your life on Facebook and Pinterest.