how to grow sweet potato vine houseplant? – Take an organic sweet potato tuber. Prepare slips in water or warm fertile soil. Take out the slips carefully and grow these in nutrient-rich soil. Take a medium size hanging basket for decorative sweet potato vine. If you want to get tubers then take a deeper pot or containers. These are annual vines, they can’t survive during frost.
Sweet potato vines are tropical vines. These are very invasive plants in their native climate. So you probably need not worry about weeds or grass. You should only consider proper caring with water, fertilizers, and pest control. The rest will be handled by the plants itself. Keep reading for details.
Scientific Facts about Sweet potato
|Scientific Name||Ipomoea Batatas|
|Common Name||Sweet Potato|
|Family||Convolvulaceae ( Relative to Morning Glory)|
10-15-feet long vines
|Temperature||>70F (24-degree Celsius)
It can survive temperature up to 35 degrees Celcius.
|Humidity||Above 65%. The ideal humidity for sweet potato vine is 80%.|
|Soil Type||Soft loamy soil. It should be highly fertile and nutrient-rich.|
|Soil Ph||Slightly acidic (5.5-6.8 ph)|
|Container Size||Flat Containers for decorative vines-4-6 inch deep.
8-10 inch deep pots & containers for tuber cultivation.
|USDA Zones||Zone 9-11 is ideal for Sweet potato. You can grow sweet potato vine in colder regions with little care.|
How to grow sweet potatoes from tubers?
We can grow sweet potato vines from the last season tuber. It requires preparing some slips and then planting those in the desired location.
What are slips? – Slips are small vines grown from the buds or eyes of a sweet potato tuber. A single tuber can grow up to 15 slips. Each of these can be separated further to grow individually.
If you want to get some sweet potato vine for the first time. Then either you should buy some or just grow your own. Don’t worry this is very easy.
First, check your nearest nursery or garden store for any live sweet potato slips. If available then check out for the health and quality before buying. It should be free from any pests or diseases. If you don’t find one then just visit the grocery store.
Buy some organic fresh-looking sweet potatoes. Avoid anything which looks frozen or dry completely. Why organic? It is bcoz most other tubers are chemically treated to suppress sporting. The organic farm-grown sweet potato is your best choice.
Do you Know?- Do Potatoes Have Seeds?- Interesting garden facts. Sweet potatoes don’t have seeds or either the seeds are not fertile to form new plants.
Now How to proceed next- You have 2 specific choices.
- Grow your slips in plain water
- Use moist soil or compost for growing sweet potato slips
We will start with the most productive and faster method. Keep reading…
Starting sweet potato slips in soil
This is the fastest method to grow healthy sweet potato slips. It is easy and highly effective. You will need 3 things for this method.
- Some good quality sweet potato tubers
- Soft fertile soil. Compost is optional
- Plenty of heat and moisture.
Ok, I think these are 4 things instead of 3, but who cares. Let’s proceed.
- Take at least 3-4 inch size of healthy tubers. You can take bigger tubers, even half of it will work fine.
- Place the soil in a semi-shade area. This spot should be warm and humid with bright light. Don’t place the soil in direct sunlight.
- Now place each sweet potato tuber Horizontally (on its side) over the soil.
- There is no need for covering it entirely. Just press it gently in the soil.
- Water the soil and tubers using a sprayer or simply pour it. Avoid washing off the soil near the base of tubers.
- Keep the soil warm and moist for 2 weeks and the Sweet potato will start sprouting.
- Let it grow for another 10 days.
- Take out the tubers carefully from the soil. Avoid damaging the root especially with the slips.
- Remove slips bigger than 3 inches. Don’t worry if it doesn’t have any root, we will develop it next.
- Now put all those new slips in water for rooting or directly grow in soil.
Sweet potato vine is a drought-resistant plant. So with regular watering, it will grow roots within a week or 2. Only care for overwatering. The slips of sweet potato are very delicate and vulnerable to climatic factors. So you should care for them for at least 30-45 days. Once acclimatized you need not spend any time for caring these vines.
Check out this: Why do ferns require a moist environment?
How to grow sweet potatoes in water
Growing sweet potato in water is probably the easiest method. Actually we don’t grow the plant in water, we just develop the slips to grow new sweet potato plants.
Commercially this is not a feasible method. It takes care and proper management, which not possible for large scale production. Still, water is the first choice for every home & backyard gardener.
On a small scale, this method is the best and easiest to grow new slips. We have already learned how to grow slips in soil. Now its time for water.
Starting sweet potato slips in Water
- Just like the previous method, Take some healthy sweet potato tubers. Choose at least 3-4 inch big tubers.
- Take a Glass jar or any bowl. Fill it half with chlorine-free water. Any water will work but chlorine is not so good for root development. So better not to use that.
- Dip just 1/3 or 1/2 of the tuber in the water. You can change this length according to the size of the tuber. Remember at least a 2-inch tuber should be under the water.
- Use some toothpick or any pick to hold the tuber above the water. Don’t submerge the entire tuber or it will rot instead of rooting.
- Keep the Jar in a warm location. Sprouting needs sunlight, so you can place it near the window sill.
- Change the water at least once per week. This is the most important precaution with this step. The tuber will start rotting if you don’t change the water regularly.
- If the temperature and humidity are fine i.e., above 70F & 65% humidity. Then The slips will be ready within 15 days.
- Next takeout each and every slip carefully.
- You can leave these slips for one more week for root development. This is entirely optional but trust me it helps a lot in successful plant growth.
- Never take these slips out during frost. Even the slightest frost can kill these delicate saplings. Remember Sweet potato cannot survive in cold frost like condition.
How to grow sweet potatoes from cuttings?
This the best commercial method of growing Sweet potato. Tubers are effective but it will take 1000 or even more tubers to prepare slips for big farms and agriculture fields. Also, you have to check each and every tuber for any disease or infection. This will take days and so much effort.
Here growing plants from cuttings is the only feasible option. You can make thousands of sweet potato plants from one healthy parent plant. Most probably you will need to choose a good tuber from 4 or 5 sweet potatoes.
Can I grow sweet potato from cuttings?
Yes, definitely you can grow sweet potato vines from cutting. In fact, It is the most effective way of propagating sweet potato.
Certain advantages make you can rely on sweet potato cutting for growing new plant.
- It will reduce the time of cultivation. You need not prepare slips for each plant and wait for several months to plant it outside.
- It reduces the time and effort for the preparation of plants. Now you only have to check and care for single tuber and probably 1 or 2 healthy plants.
- Commercially, sweet potato grown from cutting have shown higher yields than those grown from tubers. The size & quality of tubers also improves significantly.
Grow Sweet potato vine from cuttings
- Take a healthy sweet potato plant with at least 3-4 vines. Don’t take cuttings from plants with only one vine or branch. It may get in shock.
- Cut several cutting form healthy branches. Take at least 12-15 inch cuttings. Don’t take cutting smaller than 8 inches. Smaller cuttings will grow but may take more time to develop roots and mature tubers.
- Next, You can directly grow these cutting in soil or place them in water for root development.
- You can skip step 3. Just make a small knot at the bottom of the cutting. This should be a circular knot of a 3-4 inch diameter. Do it carefully, avoid any damage to the vine. This step will increase the chance of survival for the cuttings. It also encouraged faster root growth. This a better and more effective way than growing straight cutting.
- Just make holes of 3inch deep and 3 inches wide in the soil. Place the cuttings with the circular knot in the holes.
- Cover the hole with soil keeping the tip of vine above it. The tip should be free from dirt.
How to grow sweet potatoes in garden beds?
Sweet potato vine is a very invasive and fast runner plant, especially in tropical regions. So you will need some space for each plant to grow and develop tubers.
You will need at least 16sq. feet area to start. You can get good cultivation from a land of 100sq.feet area. Clear an area of 10 feet wide and 10 feet long to start.
- Turn the soil upside down to 10 inches deep throughout the growing land. Let the soil dry for 2-3 days.
- Repeat this process after 4 days. Then dry and mix the soil with some compost.
- Remove any debris, stones, pebbles, rocks, plastic, or metal pieces from the soil. Sweet potato is a tuber and any hard object can deform its structure or stops its growth.
- Make 8-10 rows each 1 foot apart. Create a 4-5 inch mound on each row. This should look like a hill & valley structure.
- Make 3-4 holes across the length of each row. Each hole should be 3 inches deep and at least 2-3 feet apart from others.
- Place one slip or sweet potato plant in each hole. Cover it with some soil & make it firm. Sweet potato vines can easily get crowded. So always take care of proper spacing.
- Water every plant thoroughly. Keep the soil moist but avoid overwatering.
- Each node of a sweet potato vine can form root and tuber. But you should only let 2-3 nodes in each vine to form the root. This will control the quality of tuber and regulates the need for nutrition by the plant. More nodes with roots lead to smaller tuber formation.
- Avoid pruning unless your sweet potato vines are for decoration purposes. Continuous pruning will force the plant to develop more branches. Hence the plant will reduce the formation of tubers.
- Use NPK 19:19:19 or another source of Nitrates, Phosphates, and Potash. Sweet potato vines need nitrogen and phosphorus to develop leaves, branches & tubers.
- If you don’t want to use chemical fertilizers then apply any compost once in a month. This should be enough for healthy tuber formation.
How to grow sweet potatoes in containers
Sweet potato vines can be easily grown in containers of any size. You can even grow these in a small hanging basket for decoration purposes.
The sweet potato tubers need at least a 10-inch deep pot or containers. The tubers need space so bigger pots are always better containers for sweet potatoes. The container you choose must have some drainage holes in the bottom. This is important to avoid waterlogging.
You just have to make the soil supper light, fertile and well-drained. This requires a special soil mix with 20% compost, 30% cocopeat, and 50% garden soil. You can use another mix of soil, sand, perlite, or sawdust and compost.
- Fill the pot or containers with this soil mix. Leave 2-inch empty area on top. This area will e useful during watering and fertilization.
- Place only 1 plant in each pot. No matter how big or small your pot or container is, you should grow only one plant each for the best result.
- Use a plastic sheet or thermal blankets in Zone 6,7, or 8. For best results maintain a temperature above 75F.
- Water regularly and fertilize once in a month. Avoid nitrogen-heavy fertilizers.
How to grow sweet potatoes in a bucket
Growing sweet potatoes in bags or buckets are similar to the container method. You just have to take buckets big enough to support the tuber formation.
- Size: 8-10-inch buckets or grow bag. You can use potato grow bags.
- It should have drainage holes in the bottom.
- Avoid frequent movement. Continuos movement will slow down the tuber formation.
- Special care for soft grow bags. Give proper support to these bags. Make sure your grow bags can hold the weight of soil firmly.
Steps to Grow Sweet potato in a bucket
- Take Some well-developed slips or cuttings for growing.
- Use equal part garden soil, compost, and coco pit for growing sweet potato.
- Plant only 1 cutting into each bucket.
- Cover the surface of the soil with plastic to increase temperature. This is only required if you live in colder frost-prone areas.
- Water the new plants carefully. Try to keep the soil moist every time. Sweet potato is a tropical vine. It loves moisture ut can die in soggy soil.
Water & Fertilizer requirements
- Water every day for the first 2 weeks. Use a sprayer or drip for watering in the initial days. Apply only 100-150ml water every day. 1-2 cups will be fine for the vines.
- Increase the duration between subsequent watering from the 3rd week. Water only in 2 to 3 days. Also, increase the amount of water to balance the requirement.
- Slowly increase the duration up to 1 single watering per week. This should be enough for the mature plant. Adjust the amount of water t fulfill the needs of every vine.
- You should regulate the frequency of watering according to climatic conditions. Stop watering the vines during rainy days and increase when it gets hotter.
- You can easily avoid any fertilization if your soil is well nourished. Still for best results use NPK, organic compost, and phosphorus-based fertilizers. Make a balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium-based diet for your sweet potato vines.
- Use only nitrogen baed fertilizers of decorative sweet potato vines.
Sweet potato plants are very versatile. It doesn’t require much attention. Once grown to its extents, only this thing it requires is water and proper sunlight. Fertilization is not a big problem for sweet potato vines.
Problems with sweet potato cultivation
Sweet potato vines are delicate and are prone to several pests and diseases.
- Flea beetles
- Sweet potato scurf
- White blister
- Fungal leaf diseases (Alternaria leaf spot and blight, Botrytis)
- Stem rot
- Root rot (fungal attack)
Other than these some animals can become a headache for sweet potato gardens.
- Wild hogs, Pigs
It is very simple, those who love green will feed on stem and leaves and those who love sweet will eat the tubers. Therefore, You should prepare your garden for all these known intruders.
It seems a big problem, isn’t it? So what to do Now? Don’t worry these are common with every gardener and there is plenty of advice available to solve such problems.
- Select Disease tolerant cultivars and varieties of Sweet Potato.
- Regularly check for any serious infestation. Check the stems and leaves closely and carefully.
- Make Proper fencing to avoid big Grazing animals. You can easily avoid deers and hogs with proper fencing.
- Grow sweet potato in raised beds or containers to avoid underground dwellers. I don’t know why but it seems mice and moles don’t like my raised beds. Used wooden support for the walls of raised beds.
- Regularly use quality fungicide and pesticide. It is not always recommended but if your plants are highly infected then try these. You can use organic neem oil spray or soap spray if you like.
- Sometimes just reducing watering and increasing temperature will handle most of these problems.
- If a vine seems severely infected and damaged. Then discard the entire plant without wasting any time. You can still save other plants.
After this, we have 2 significantly difficult problems. These are Temperature and moisture.
- You can use thermal blankets and black plastic thermal sheets to increase the soil temperature.
- Organic mulch is a great way to regulate temperature and moisture. It will increase the soil temperature up to 10 degrees and also increase the amount of moisture.
- Sometimes fertilizing also increases the soil temperature. But be careful with fertilizers, overuse can make the soil salty and kill your plants.
Caring sweet potato vines
- Water & fertilize regularly according to the plant’s requirements.
- Prune only when required.
- Don’t let the vines to form roots at each node. This will reduce the size and quality of tubers formed in the main root.
- Checkout for any pests or diseases. Leaf wilting and frequent yellowing can be a symptom of a disease.
- Always harvest the sweet potato tubers in time or it will rot during winters. First to the Second week of October is the ideal time for Harvesting sweet potatoes. You should finish harvesting before the first frost.
how many sweet potatoes per plant? – Ideally, each sweet potato plant should produce 3-8 tubers per node. This number varies greatly due to climatic conditions, proper watering, nutrition levels, and the number of rooted nodes. Overall you can expect at least 3-pound sweet potato from each plant.
I know this post is not enough to talk about the sweet potato. We will continue the discussion in some other post. Till then keep reading keep gardening.
What is your opinion- How to Grow Sweet Potato Vine easily? Share your comments and views with us.
Wait! You should read this before leaving: Everything to know about raised garden beds