If you want to learn how to grow sweet potatoes, I can show you in 5 simple steps! You’ll have your own sweet potatoes in no time!
How I Love Thee, Let Me Count The Ways
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.
Can You Grow Sweet Potato From a Sweet Potato?
YES! This is the amazing part. You can grow them anywhere as long as you have just one potato. You don’t need to go to the store and buy seeds or slips, just a simple sweet potato you get from the grocery store or Farmer’s Market.
It’s really that easy. I will walk you through the steps on how to grow slips from one sweet potato, then how to grow potatoes from those slips in the steps below.
What Is The Best Way To Grow Sweet Potatoes?
Think of sweet potatoes as a tropical plant and what you imagine the tropics to be like. Warm, sunny, humid. Ideally. That doesn’t mean you can grow them elsewhere.
I’ve grown sweet potatoes when we lived by the beach and also in the mountains.
Sweet potatoes prefer a soil PH of 5-7.5 and nighttime temperatures above 55 F degrees.
Sweet potatoes are perennials (they grow for more than a year) in planting zones 8-10, and annuals in colder climates.
If you don’t know your plant hardiness zone, you can look it up on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
They enjoy a bright sunny spot where they get plenty of sun and warm soil.
From plant to harvest will take 90-120 days.
It’s best to plan your planting so your harvest will be before your first frost date.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes- in 5 Easy Steps
The easiest vegetable I’ve ever grown, hands down, has to be the sweet potato.
Of course, I started growing sweet potatoes on the coast of South Carolina. We were in the heart of Hades and had mediocre soil, so that does give me a little advantage with growing this vegetable.
However, we now live in the mountains in planting zone 7a and I’ve still had success in growing them.
Step #1 Find The Perfect Spud
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.
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).
- Keep your potato in a cool dark place until it starts to sprout (see picture).
- Once you see sprouts, it’s time to add it to a cup of water.
- Use a cup of water that is big enough to fit the sweet potato.
#2- How to Grow Sweet Potato 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 sticks outside the water.
- Picture shown is after the potato has been growing for about 4 weeks.
- Place on a windowsill or a shelf for 4-8 weeks
- Change the water every couple of days with purified water
Step #3-Separate 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.
Step #4- Removing The Slips from the 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 (see picture below).
Step #5 Planting The 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.
- Plant in full sun.
- Cover roots and a tiny bit of the base of the slip with good soil.
- Add mulch around the base of the plant to help it retain water.
- Plant slips 10-12 inches apart and allows room for the vines to grow, they will create their own tropical ground cover.
How Many Months Does It Take To Grow Sweet Potatoes?
From plant to harvest is anywhere from three to four months. You will need to harvest before your first frost date or when the leaves start to turn yellow.
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.
They stay green all summer long, making them a beautiful hanging basket.
Sweet Potato Fun Fact
Did you know the sweet potato leaves are edible?? They have a similar taste to spinach and are packed full of vitamins and nutrients!
How Many Sweet Potatoes Will I Get From One Plant?
Typically, in ideal growing conditions, you will yield 1-2 pounds of potatoes from one plant.
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.
Speaking of free food, we have some great tips on how you can get FREE food- even organic, by gleaning the fields.
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 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!
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!
Although there are some similarities to growing sweet potatoes, growing regular potatoes is a little different from the sweet potatoes. But don’t worry, it’s just as easy. I’ll walk you through it.