Contrary to common belief, there are no actual sweet potato seeds to grow sweet potatoes from. Sweet potatoes are root vegetables and are grown primarily from tiny shoots from the sweet potatoes. Popular varieties of sweet potatoes include the Beauregard sweet potato, Hannah sweet potatoes, Stokes purple sweet potatoes, and Japanese sweet potatoes. All these variants are grown using similar methods, which we will be discussing at length today.
Can Sweet Potatoes Be Grown in Pots?
Knowing how to grow sweet potatoes in containers is essential if you don’t have a garden or your outside space is very limited. Potted vegetables can be stacked vertically, so you can grow your harvest without taking up too much real estate at home. Growing sweet potatoes in containers is a practical way to ensure that there will soon be some supply of sweet potatoes at home.
- Sweet potatoes thrive in warm and humid climes with plenty of sunshine. Whether they are grown on the ground or in a container, the basic environmental requirements must be met.
- Sweet potatoes don’t have seeds, so you have to order what is called “slips” from agricultural suppliers. Slips are the viable shoots that come from the sweet potatoes that have already matured. You can order slips online or from mail-order catalogs. You can even start your sweet potato plot by extracting the slips from mature sweet potatoes you buy from the market. These slips will work, too.
- If you want to start from your slips, you need many healthy and mature sweet potatoes. The slips sprout from the mature sweet potatoes, and each mature root can produce an average of fifty slip sprouts at a time. To encourage your sweet potatoes to grow these sprouts, place each one in an appropriately sized mason jar filled halfway up and place the sweet potato inside. Place the mason jar by the window where there is plenty of warmth and sunshine and wait for a few weeks. The sweet potatoes will grow leaves alongside the slip sprouts. Once you see the slip sprouts, you can extract them by gently twisting them off the base. Slip sprouts become viable after six to ten weeks.
- Slip sprouts have to be transplanted to a shallow bowl to germinate and grow roots. When the roots are about one inch long, they are ready to be planted.
- The Varmadan and Puerto Rico varieties are best suited for growing in containers or pots. Other varieties need far more space, and you need to plant them outside. Use grocery store sweet potatoes if you can ascertain the cultivar. Otherwise, we won’t know if they will survive being in a container.
- Plant the smooth roots about four centimeters into the pot. They should be 1.5 inches away from each other. Cover with two inches more of loose soil. Regular watering should be done and maintain the temperature of the 24°C or 75°F. Small temperature fluctuations are acceptable (about 3°C or 5°F), but otherwise, you would have to maintain the ambient temperature with grow lights if the need arises.
- Large clay pots are best suited for sweet potatoes. We do not recommend using plastic pots or metal pots. As for the type of soil you will use, we recommend using the loosest soil that you can get (like sand) because well-drained soil is a necessity with sweet potatoes. Whiskey barrels can also be used for growing large numbers of sweet potatoes.
- During the hardening phase, keep your new sweet potato plants indoors for about twelve weeks—the transition for a few weeks after that before ultimately moving all your pots outside.
- Sweet potatoes should be ready to harvest after ninety days. For more mature sweet potatoes, wait 150-170 days. Of course, if you want a much larger harvest, it would be a good idea to start with a larger quantity of slips and containers. It may take more effort, but you will succeed in growing more root vegetables within the year. The harvest time is most fun when there is so much produce to collect.
How Much Space Does a Sweet Potato Plant Need?
If you are planting sweet potatoes outside and straight into the ground, the ideal space creates ridges ten inches high. The ridges have to be spaced 3.5 feet apart as well. The most space available to your sweet potatoes, the better off they will be.
How many sweet potatoes do you get from one plant?
A single row of sweet potatoes can produce anywhere from eight to ten pounds of mature root vegetables in a few months. To encourage your sweet potatoes’ best growth, use more compost but avoid artificial fertilizers that are overfilled with nitrogen.
This is because too much nitrogen in the soil can deform the tubers and cause problems with healthy root development. The vines can also eventually suffer from having too much nitrogen. Remember to keep your soil as warm as possible to ensure that the plant grows well.
Also, keep in mind the common diseases that bedevil sweet potato plants. Common diseases include fungal infections and sweet potato weevils. Scurf also appears sometimes, but these dark, circular inflections on maturing tubers’ skin are less harmful and usually do not cause problems after harvest.
To create a full row of sweet potato plants, be selective with the slips you put to the ground. Diseased or poor quality slips can easily cause diseases and poorly producing plants.
How Long Does It Take for Sweet Potatoes to Grow?
Sweet potato plants usually mature after ninety to one hundred and seventy days of uninterrupted sunshine and average temperatures. Sweet potatoes do not do well with any frost level, so keep this in mind when timing the planting period for this root vegetable.