How to Grow Sweet Potatoes- in 5 Easy Steps

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How to Grow Sweet Potatoes. Everything you need to know to start growing sweet potatoes for FREE

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes- in 5 Easy Steps

I’ve never ran 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 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.

Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #1 – Find a nice, medium size sweet potato (organic if possible) that is starting to sprout and a cup of water.

How to grow sweet potatoes

 

Growing Sweet Potatoes Step#2- 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 water a couple times a week with purified water

How to grow sweet potatoes

 

Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #3- 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

 

How to grow sweet potatoes

 

Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #4-With a sharp knife, cut each root (slip) free from the potato (being careful not to cut the stem or roots), include a little of the potato when you are separating the slip from the potato

How to grow sweet potatoes

 

Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #5- plant slips directly in the soil, planter, hanging basket, or pot

How to grow sweet potatoes

 

 

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

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 allow room for the vines to grow, they will create their own tropical ground cover.
  • It takes about 95 days for 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 a potato harvest, grow one in a pot or hanging basket and enjoy the leaves in your salad!

 

 

60 Comments

  1. Rosa Mohtasham on August 31, 2015 at 1:46 pm
    I have retired and am trying to garden in tubs. I have always seen the school projects like this, but never had a follow-up. Thank you. The tip about making them sweeter is something I never knew.
    • The Coastal Homestead on August 31, 2015 at 2:16 pm
      You are more than welcome. Although it is past time time to plant them in the ground here, I am growing one in a pot to harvest the leaves. Keep me posted with your success!
  2. Preserve the Harvest: Let's Talk Sweet Potatoes on September 3, 2015 at 2:27 pm
    […] The Coastal Homestead has an informative step by step tutorial on growing sweet potatoes in 5 easy steps. If you are looking to grow your own, this is a great place to start. Click here—>How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in 5 Easy Steps […]
    • Joe on April 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm
      So the sweet potatos vine does not have to be covered with soil to get sweet potatoes?
      • The Coastal Homestead on April 4, 2017 at 10:34 am
        Hi and thanks for your comment. No, the vines do not get buried after you plant the initial slip unless you want baby sweet potatoes. The vines will get very long an trailing, if you do not lift them off the ground from time to time they will take root and produce sweet potatoes wherever they root. We did let them do this once and instead of getting a lot of big sweet potatoes at the base of the plant, we got a lot of baby fingerling sweet potatoes all over the garden. We did enjoy them.
  3. Marie Mul from the Netherlands) on January 25, 2016 at 8:10 pm
    Thank you for telling about growing sweet patatoes. There is only one thing I do not understand very well. Have I to cut away the roots when the little plants are in pots, to avoid that the patatoe becomes little? Thank you very much in advance.
    • The Coastal Homestead on January 25, 2016 at 9:56 pm
      You are more than welcome and thank you for your reply. You do not have to cut anything, just periodically lift the vines off the ground so they don't take root. One time I did let the entire vine root wherever it (they) wanted and ended up with fingerling sweet potatoes. They were adorable!
  4. Berni on March 15, 2016 at 9:27 pm
    is this the same as the sweet potato vine plant?
    • The Coastal Homestead on March 16, 2016 at 2:31 pm
      This is not the same as the sweet potato vine plant, this is a regular sweet potato. You can read more about the vine here http://www.bhg.com/gardening/container/basics/can-i-eat-sweet-potatoes-from-ornamental-sweet-potato-vines-in-containers/.
  5. Roger Neale on April 7, 2016 at 8:57 pm
    Thank you very much for your informative growing details of sweet potatoes , very interesting. I am new to Pinterest and will use it a lot, many thanks Roger.
    • The Coastal Homestead on April 8, 2016 at 11:28 am
      Roger, thank you for commenting. Get ready to be lost for hours on Pinterest! That site is so inspiring, just make sure you take the time to try all the great ideas that you find on there. Please feel free to comment or contact me any time if you have a questions and happy gardening!
  6. Bareilly on April 11, 2016 at 12:38 am
    Hi I have had my potatoes in water for about 4 weeks. I have lots of roots but no green shoots yet. Has this happened before and if so will there be green shoots coming. Thank you
    • The Coastal Homestead on April 11, 2016 at 9:53 am
      Yes, just give it time and carefully change the water often. Once the green shoots start, they grow quickly. I don't believe mine sprouted until right before it was time to harvest them.
    • Susan on March 8, 2017 at 8:48 pm
      I always use organic sweet potatoes and a heat mat this made slips 8 inches high in a few weeks
  7. Lesia Fumarola on April 26, 2016 at 12:45 am
    I'm starting a garden/greenhouse. I really want to plant sweet potatoes. So just about how many potatoes will you get with one plant?
    • The Coastal Homestead on April 26, 2016 at 1:34 am
      There are really a lot of variables to that question, how hot your weather gets, what type of soil you have, how many people you want to feed, if you pull the vines off the ground or is you let them root, etc. You get a lot of slips off of one sweet potato so if you like a lot of sweet potatoes, I would start with 12 or more sweet potatoes and let them root. You can always eat the leaves too.
  8. Sandra Ruttan on May 4, 2016 at 11:03 pm
    Thank you for the info. I thought growing sweet potatoes would be more complicated. I knew they had to age to become sweet but I thought that took months. Do you have to 'hill' sweet potatoes like you do regular potatoes? Do you continue to bury the stalk as they grow?
    • The Coastal Homestead on May 4, 2016 at 11:25 pm
      Thank you for your comment. No, you do not hill sweet potatoes. They will grow very long vines and those vines will try to root if you don't pull them off the ground every so often. If you let the vines root, they will produce small sweet potatoes everywhere they root, if you prevent the vines from rooting, you will get larger sweet potatoes. No, you do not plant the vine. Best of luck, they really are fun to grow!
  9. Lori on May 7, 2016 at 11:06 pm
    Ok, so I have my sweet potato in water, roots are growing on the bottom, in water, but I'm getting sprouts on top, out of water...should I turn this potato upside down in the cup of water?
    • The Coastal Homestead on May 8, 2016 at 10:24 am
      No, the potato will sprout leaves out the top and you don't want to get those wet. When the stems and leaves get a couple inches high (see picture), cut them off and plant in soil. When I say them, I mean the root section that is connected to the stem and leaves, make sure to include a tiny bit of the potato with it when you cut the slips so you make sure you get the root and the stem together.
  10. Mary on May 9, 2016 at 1:16 pm
    Sweet potatoes need to be grown in the poorest soil available. If not, you'll have a lot of nice vines but small amounts of potatoes. Here in FL I planted in sand. The plants didn't get big or vineyards but I had Huge potatoes. Some were way too big. I just stuck a potato that was already growing roots in the ground. I'll need to try this way too.
  11. Alice on May 12, 2016 at 10:10 am
    Thank you very much. Cheers!!!
  12. Eileen on May 12, 2016 at 5:20 pm
    Roger, I tried growing sweet potatoes because a sweet potato I left in a dark corner of my counter started sprouting leaves. My vegetable gardening book suggested cutting a "slip" but didn't say what a slip was. So I left a piece of the potato with the growth and it suggested planning it on a "hill" with the green stem buried 2/3 of the way. They really took off and I wound up with a huge blanket of leaves. I was a nervous nelly worried about a cold snap before harvesting because they can get black spots if this happens. So I bought a "garden quilt" cover to put over them and extend my growing time. When it came time to harvest I got 26 pounds of sweet potatoes (some huge) from 3 little slips. When I cut the leaves back I discovered a large cantaloupe that came from my compost! The leaves protected it from the night chill (I live in southeast PA). I saved one of the potatoes for next year's crop! I can't wait to try again this year.
    • The Coastal Homestead on May 12, 2016 at 5:46 pm
      What a great sweet potato story!!! Thank you so much for sharing it with me. You did an amazing job at caring for your potatoes in the colder climate. I'm not sure if you tried them, but sweet potato leaves are edible too. You already know how prolific they grow, they taste good and are very nutritious. Here is a link about eating the leaves. http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/sweet-potato/are-sweet-potato-leaves-edible.htm
  13. sweet potato on May 13, 2016 at 1:38 am
    I planted a bed of ornamental sweet potato one time and tried cooking them, but they never tasted good.
  14. Rosalie on May 16, 2016 at 8:42 pm
    Thank you for these 5 easy steps. I think I am going to let one of the plant's vines root in the dirt so that my grandchildren can have the neat experience of digging up some cute little sweet potatoes....too cool! I'm not feeling confident about the type of soil to use for planting them. I am disabled and don't do digging and mixing. I usually purchase bagged garden soil. Will you recommend a bagged soil that will be best to grow sweet potatoes in please......thank you. Oh, I'm in Austin, Texas.
    • The Coastal Homestead on May 16, 2016 at 8:57 pm
      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 acid pH to 5.0. That said, I have a higher ph in my soil 6.5 and the sweet potatoes do just fine. If you buy a bagged soil, I recommend getting an organic compost like a mushroom compost. Honestly, I haven't bought soil in so long, I don't know what is available on the market but I do know not to buy anything from Miracle Grow. Your grands will love digging up the baby potatoes, best of luck!
      • Rosalie on May 17, 2016 at 8:01 am
        Thank you. Have a wonderful growing season! :)
  15. Laurie on June 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm
    Hi! I came to your site when looking for what to do AFTER having TONS of slips coming up from a sweet potato, that's been sitting in a window for a couple of months (my son's teacher did this, so he wanted to give it a try). I wasn't sure what to do with the slips once they grew. Some are now VERY long (some as long as 3 feet!), but there are also plenty that are 6-18", too. I have a few questions. Should I cut back the longer slips or just use the shorter ones? I am going to plant them in a large bucket...do I need to drill holes in the bottom of the bucket for drainage (I'm hoping not, as I don't want to ruin the bucket by drilling holes in it)? I am in Memphis, TN, where temps are 90-105 degrees (daytime...nighttime isn't that much cooler...maybe 80-85 degrees) during the summer...do I need to water them if we don't get rain, or just let them be? Sorry for so many questions...we're really excited to grow our first batch of sweet potatoes!!!
    • The Coastal Homestead on June 20, 2016 at 1:22 am
      HI There Laurie, Thank you for your comments and questions. Yes, I am in Pawleys Island. What is your brothers name? You never know, we might know each other, it's a small world. You can plant the short and long slips. Yes. you should add drain holes or the water can go rancid and you may get root rot. Sweet potatoes like the heat so you should be goof with the temperature, we have similar to yours. Yes, you should water weekly if you don't have rain. Remember the leaves are edible too. Nice to meet you and best of luck with your sweet potatoes!
  16. Laurie on June 19, 2016 at 9:05 pm
    Ooops...forgot to ask where you live in SC...my brother lives at Pawley's Island!!! LOVE it there!!!!!
  17. Laurie on June 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm
    I have had my sweet potato in the window for about six month's. I have little leafs on top and just one little root on the bottom. Can you help me. Sincerely frustrated!
  18. Dr B. N. Sinha on August 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm
    Thanks a lot. I think to grow sweet potato require suckers, but it is not easily possible to get suckers, however sweet potato is available every time in the market. so this is the way i can produce suckers for my lovely garden. Thanks a lot, i ll try than provide result and photographs.
  19. Billie on August 11, 2016 at 4:28 am
    This was the first year that I've ever grown sweet potatoes however, I do love them. So when I came across them when shopping for my tomatoes and pepper plants at my local garden center, I thought why not. Yesterday I was doing some yard work and thought that I would check and see if there were any potatoes there. I was giggling and having a blast digging up sweet potatoes on my hands and knees in the dirt just tickled pink that I was finding sweet potatoes. So much so that I thought that in retrospect I would try and learn now how I should have done it, LoL. I harvested I guess about half bushel or so, but they were curled round and round. I think because the ground here in middle Tn. is hard. I have no idea what the ph is but now I'm curious. They looked like the potato was growing like curly fries. Didn't know about how long to dry them or to wait for the sweetness to come, so for that I thank you. Also, to pick up the vines so they don't replant themselves or that the plant part was eatable. Thank's for the info, and I will be growing more next season, I'm searching now for a good tool to help me harvest my potatoes and have learned some interesting things about that as well. What fun... I've said way to much so I'll stop now. Thank's fellow sweet potato lovers...
    • The Coastal Homestead on August 11, 2016 at 11:37 am
      Your comment tickled me! You never know, you might be on to something with the curly sweet potatoes and can market them to make a fortune!!! You think I'm joking but I'm not, you would be surprised. I like to grow them just for the aesthetics and edible leaves as well. Garden on and best of luck! Ps. Keep me posted
    • Jo on May 7, 2017 at 4:29 am
      A garden rake has 3 short prongs. At the hardware store you can ask for a potato hook or rake. It has 4 longer prongs and catches the potatoes just right.
  20. Karen Nicholson on October 24, 2016 at 12:30 am
    I have been planting sweet potatoes in kitty litter buckets with great success for a couple years. This year my dog pulled off a piece of the vine and i threw it in my compost pile. Instead of wilting it took root. Will a plant started by a cutting produce potatoes?
  21. Karen Nicholson on October 24, 2016 at 2:30 pm
    Thank you for the information!
  22. Harold Pare Jr on November 5, 2016 at 11:26 am
    Can sweet potatoes be grown in containers. If so, would you recommend a size and depth of a container per slip. Thank you
    • The Coastal Homestead on November 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm
      Yes they can and they make great hanging baskets! I would recommend 1 gallon bucket per slip. You could get away with 3 slips per gallon if you want to harvest the leaves for eating or fingerling sweet potatoes- which are amazing.
  23. Deddeh Dukuly on November 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm
    How do I grow sweet potatoes in the house during the winter. I want to get more leaves. Thanks
    • The Coastal Homestead on November 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm
      You can start by making slips (directions in the article) then transfer the slips into a 1 gallon pot or hanging basket. Since you are wanting the leaves I would place 3-4 slips in one pot. Place in a South facing window and warm spot. Sweet potatoes thrive in the heat so it is important they stay at 70° or above to produce.
  24. Hazel Rönnestig on December 6, 2016 at 11:39 pm
    Hi, thank you for a great tutorial. I have a question about growing from the vines. How long does it take for a slip to produce enough vines that can be cut away? Will the timeframe of 95 days be about the same if growing from wine? I live in Sweden and the growing season is quite short. Even getting the 95 days in without a greenhouse will be tricky but I will give it a try this summer!
  25. Leonard Spiers on December 7, 2016 at 9:29 pm
    I really enjoy sweet potatoes and your article is very helpful I hope they will grow in UK Thanks
  26. Ana on January 6, 2017 at 10:22 am
    Thank you so much for sharing, I use to let the vines to root and come up with many small potatoes. I am ready to plant and harvest the large ones this year.
  27. Jane on March 5, 2017 at 8:02 pm
    Hi! I love your 5 steps to growing sweet potatos. Now that my kids are grown, I am starting a new hobby which is vegetable gardening in containers. I have one question, do the sweet potatoes need to already have some sprouts before putting them in water? Thanks so much!
    • The Coastal Homestead on March 6, 2017 at 11:38 am
      Congrats on your decision on growing food- -it is addictive! Yes, you need to have some eyes on your potatoes, but it doesn't take long for a potato to grow them, once you see the buds you can place in water. Best of luck!
  28. Marin Rands on March 20, 2017 at 2:00 am
    I love growing veggies in pots. After stumbling on this post I'm so excited to try this!!!. I'm in Deerfield Beach zone 10 and my soil is very sandy and full of lots of coral rock (which I don't have ability to rototil) l'm going to plant my slips (when they're ready) in several 15 gallon pots. What kind of soil would you suggest since you don't recommend the Miracle Grow Moisture Control potting soil; which is what I've always used for my potted tropical fruit tree collection to keep the risk lower of them dehydrating in our hot summers.
    • The Coastal Homestead on March 20, 2017 at 11:44 am
      Hi Marin and thank you for commenting. We have very sandy soil as well (I live by the ocean in zone 8b) and high temps, our soil never holds moisture or nutrients. I'm not sure what commercial brands of soil you have available but I would buy an organic compost soil mix, mix the soil with: coconut core, vermiculite or peat moss, add a little worm casings, mushroom compost or seasoned manure. After planting I would add a couple of inches of mulch to help maintain moisture. Good thing is sweet potatoes love heat so they should do really well for you. They were virtually maintenance-free for me and after planting them I did little to care for them. Best of luck and keep me posted!
  29. Cheryl licata on April 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm
    Started sweet potatoes in water in jars. One has rotted from the bottom. ??????
    • The Coastal Homestead on April 4, 2017 at 10:30 am
      Is it still sprouting? How often are you changing the water? If you are changing water often and it is still sprouting, I wouldn't worry about it. If you already have some slips growing on that potato, I would go ahead and transplant them into the soil. I have had some potatoes rot from time to time and I'm not sure what the difference is since I always do it the same? Best of luck and keep me posted.
  30. Barbara Wood on April 11, 2017 at 10:52 am
    Could I grow these in the North East of England ???
    • The Coastal Homestead on April 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm
      I'm not sure what zone you are in. They need 4 months to grow with a min soil temp of 70°.
  31. Katie Johnston on April 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm
    Thank you for your information I will start my slips in the greenhouse as I can't plant them outside yet. I am also excited to try them. My soil is somewhat alkali being up North and is probably pretty rich as I have composted for years. But we'll see. Katie
  32. Lisa on April 30, 2017 at 2:07 pm
    Great info here! I'm in Charleston S.C. and still not clear on a time frame of curing and the easiest way to cure them??? Of course, its hot as hades here during the planting and growing time and by my calculations they will be ready in Sept sometime. I'd love to get an "oldtimers" method of curing them:) Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    • The Coastal Homestead on May 1, 2017 at 10:32 am
      Hey there neighbor. I'm in Pawleys Island just north of you towards Myrtle beach. Curing should be six weeks for optimal sweetness. You will want to place them on newspaper or a towel in a cool dark place. I harvest mine in September but if your leaves start to turn yellow before then, harvest sooner. Now is a good time to plant them here as it is already quite warm. Best of luck and keep me posted with your progress.
  33. Edna on May 9, 2017 at 9:20 pm
    This is my first attempt at growing sweet potatoes. I'm excited because you make it so easy to do. I'd like to say thank you. Never knew you can eat the leaves. Since I want lots of tatters how many leaves can I remove without damaging my harvest. My salads will be much healthier too.
    • The Coastal Homestead on May 9, 2017 at 11:00 pm
      Thank YOU!!! The rule of thumb is never to harvest more than 1/3 of a plant. Best of luck and please let me know how it goes!

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