How To Grow Sweet Potatoes In 5 Easy Steps!

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How to Grow Sweet Potatoes- in 5 Easy Steps

I’ve never run across a sweet potato I didn’t like; Sweet Potato Fries, Sweet Potato Casserole, Sweet Potatoes and Beets, Sweet Potato Noodles, Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows, Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Quiche, Sweet Potato Butter, Sweet Potato Chips– you name it SWEET and I like it *insert Bubba Gump voice here*! What I really like about sweet potatoes is their versatility, affordability, and ease of growing.

The easiest vegetable I’ve ever grown, hands down, has to be the sweet potato. Of course, I live on the coast of South Carolina in the heart of Hades and have mediocre soil so that does give me a little advantage with growing this vegetable, but I do believe anyone can have success with growing them.

I call the sweet potato the beginner vegetable because it is perfect for any color thumb; green, black, brown or new. This is also a great vegetable to grow with your children for a school project or 4-H.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes Step #1

Sweet potatoes are grown from sweet potato slips. You can make your own slips easily at home by following these simple instructions. 

Find a nice, medium size sweet potato (organic if possible) that are starting to sprout (see picture) and grab a cup of water that is big enough to fit the sweet potato.

 

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How to Grow Sweet Potatoes Step#2-Growing The Slips

Place your sweet potato in a cup of chlorine-free water with the sprout side down in the cup. Make sure 1/4- 1/2 of the potato sticking outside the water (picture shown is after the potato has been growing about 4 weeks) and put on a windowsill or a shelf for 4-8 weeks

Change the water a couple of times a week with purified water

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How to Grow Sweet Potatoes Step #3-Separating the Slips

When your potato starts to grow a plant on the topside and the roots look well established in the cup, it is time to separate the slips.

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Step #4- Removing The Slips from the Sweet Potato

  • With a sharp knife, cut each root (slip) free from the potato.
  • Be careful not to cut the stem or roots.
  • Include a little of the potato when you are separating the slip from the potato

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Step #5 Planting The Sweet Potato Slips

Once you have your slips cut, it’s time to plant them. Plant slips directly in the soil, planter, hanging basket, bucket, or a pot. As long as you have good drainage and follow the growing tips below, you can grow sweet potatoes pretty much anywhere. 

Growing Sweet Potatoes In A Container

I’ve had a lot of success with growing sweet potatoes in a container and hanging basket. I’ve always thought they make a lovely plant, even if you didn’t want to harvest the potatoes. The sweet potato leaves are edible and they stay green all summer long, making them a beautiful hanging basket. 

 

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That is it, you can grow sweet potatoes in 5 easy steps!

The best part is, the cost of this easy to grow vegetable could be free if you ask around, I’m sure someone you know has a sweet potato already sprouting in their bin somewhere. Free food is the best food.

Bonus Tips for growing sweet potatoes

  • Growing sweet potatoes works best in loamy, well-drained soil that is not too rich. Ideally, the pH is between 5.8 and 6.2, although, they will tolerate a more acidic pH to 5.0
  • Plant slips 10-12 inches apart and allows room for the vines to grow, they will create their own tropical ground cover.
  • It takes about 95 days to harvest.
  • Plant your sweet potato slips in Spring/Summer after the soil is nice and warm and all danger of frost is gone, sweet potatoes love the heat.
  • As the plant grows, lift the vines off the ground periodically to avoid letting them root. If you allow your vines to root, it will cause your sweet potatoes to be smaller. I have heard fingerling sweet potatoes are all the rave now so maybe that’s a good thing?
  • Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow.
  • After harvesting, allow your sweet potatoes to cure in a warm dry place for two weeks to increase their sweetness. Sweet potatoes are not sweet right out of the ground but become sweet in a short period of time.
  • Once cured, store your potatoes in a cool, dry place- 50-60 degrees is ideal. Do not refrigerate.
  • Sweet potato plants make amazing hanging baskets for aesthetic value.
  • Sweet potato leaves are edible and nutritious. If you have missed the window to grow sweet potatoes for potato harvest, grow one in a pot or hanging basket and enjoy the leaves in your salad!

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Preserving The Harvest

Once you have an abundance of sweet potatoes, you will want to preserve the fruits of your labor. This article from the Purposeful Pantry shows you how to Can, Freeze, Dehydrate and Preserve Sweet Potatoes. 

All this sweet potato talk got your mouth watering? I have a wonderful recipe for you to try using your home-grown sweet potatoes. Sweet Potato Quiche!  It’s gluten-free and Amazing!

Love Growing Potatoes? We have another great article for you to enjoy about how to grow potatoes- in 5 easy steps!

How to Grow Potatoes in 5 Easy Steps

 

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16 Comments

  1. Kathi on August 9, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I’m growing sweet potatoes this year for the first time. Well, I did try once before but some critter dug them up and ate them, so this is the first time I’ve made it through most of the summer. Yesterday I noticed a baby sweet potato growing right at soil level – so it’s working! They’re growing! They may not be very big, but it’s encouraging!

    • Amber Bradshaw on August 10, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Congratulations! It is very encouraging and empowering when you can grow your own food.
      When you harvest them, make sure you allow them to cure for optimal sweetness.
      I love to grow them because they are fun- my kids love seeing how they sprout in water and they make a beautiful potted plant as well.
      Best of luck and thanks for commenting.

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  3. Lydia on April 4, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I really want to try growing some this year, I can’t wait to get started! Thanks for posting this!

  4. Karen on April 15, 2018 at 1:16 am

    I can’t wsit to start my “ tarot” tomorrow in a cup of water!

  5. Dina on May 25, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    Can this method be used with yams ? What is the different? Thanks!

    • Amber Bradshaw on June 3, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      So sorry for the delayed response. We have been in the process of moving and time on the internet has been limited.
      To be honest, we’ve always used the term to describe the same potato when in fact, they are very different.
      This article (link below) goes into better detail about the differences than I could describe to you. Being that yams and sweet potatoes are both root vegetables, the same sprouting method should work for both. Let me know if you try it and how it works out!
      https://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/sweet-potatoes-101/difference-between-yam-and-sweet-potato/

  6. Stephanie on July 4, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    How many potatoes grow from each slip?

    • Amber Bradshaw on July 5, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      In all honesty, that question is very hard to answer. Too man variables to consider to give you a straight answer. An old saying is “one for the rook, one for the crow, one to rot, and one to grow”. On average, with proper growing climate and soil, one slip should produce four to ten tubers. We once let our sweet potato vines root all throughout the garden, we harvested them early for baby sweet potatoes and got many baby fingerling sweet potatoes, too many to count.
      I know this doesn’t answer your question directly but it should give you some idea.
      Best of luck

  7. Yoda on January 15, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Do not know without a doubt but I have been told (and read on internet) that sweet potatoes and yams- the kind you find in the grocery store are the same thing. Horticulturaly they are not and a true yam is not the same. So when that bit about the two being the same only applies to what you see in the store. Was confused about that for 60 years. At any rate I let some sit on the counter too long and they sprouted, am anxious to see if I can keep some of the plants one enough to put into the ground in spring. If not I will simply buy more. I think the yam is really more of a tropical plant. Beyond that I don’t know.

  8. Jim miller on March 5, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Hi, I’m started to late to grow slips in water this year. Could I just plant a whole sweet potatoe in the container and have a few potatoes by the end of the season? Thank You for your help, first time container gardener.

    • Amber Bradshaw on March 9, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      Hi Jim and thanks for reaching out. Not sure what planting zone you are in, but it shouldn’t be too late to grow slips. Sweet potatoes love warm weather and I usually wait right before summer to put them in the ground. In my personal experience, planting the whole potato turns to much and rots and didn’t produce any potatoes. You can let the eyes grow a bit, cut the potato into sections, let them dry out for a few days and plant those like you do regular potatoes to see if that works? I’ve never tried it that way but it would be a fun experiment. The slips really don’t take long to grow, if you start now you should have time.
      Keep me posted with your progress.

    • Terri Miller on April 2, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      Your soil should be really warm when you plant the starts into the soil. We usually don’t do that until June. (We live in Iowa.)

  9. Jim Miller on March 9, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Thank You for your help, I’ll start my slip making today. Jim.

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  11. Kim on July 5, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    I started my sweet potato’s for the showy vines in the landscaping. Will they grow sweet potatoes underneath? That would be an additional bonus!

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