Many people are now becoming aware of the benefits of growing vegetables in containers and pots. Growing sweet potatoes and other vegetables in pots is one way to save money on your grocery bill. But it can be difficult to know where to start. A guide for growing sweet potatoes in pots would be extremely useful, especially during winter when fresh vegetables are scarce.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about growing sweet potatoes in pots, from choosing a pot and soil type to planting and maintenance tips. We'll even show you how easy it is with our step-by-step tutorial. Read on if you want to learn all about this fun gardening project that's perfect for beginners.
What You'll Need
- Sweet potato tubers
- Potting soil or compost
- Slow-release fertilizer
- Thin nail
- Shallow dish
Select the Right Spot
Pick a location that gets full sun and has good drainage. Sweet potatoes are ideal for growing in hot weather because they love heat and don't like cold weather. They need more heat than regular potatoes to grow, so if you live in a colder area, you may want to consider growing something else instead. So, after the frost has gone, choose a spot for your pot of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes love warm days and nights, so make sure you place your pot where it can get plenty of sunlight throughout the day and night.
Create Drainage Holes
When potting soil or compost, create small drainage holes to ensure good drainage. You can do this by poking several holes in the bottom of your container with a thin nail before filling it with soil mix. Otherwise, you can fill the container with gravel or rocks to help drainage.
Prepare the Tubers
Look for firm sweet potatoes without any cuts or bruises. Wash the potatoes off and let them dry out for a day or two before you start planting. After that, cut the tubers into pieces slightly smaller than the opening on your pot using a sharp knife.
Locate the middle of each tuber and insert three or four toothpicks to form a square shape. Make sure you insert the toothpicks at a slight angle, so they stand up and don't touch the tuber's center. This will allow you to attach the vines later on. Once that is done, soak your sweet potatoes in water for 24 hours until you plant them.
Fill the Pot with Soil
The next step in growing sweet potatoes is to fill your pot with moist soil. Loosen the soil with a trowel so that it's nice and loose. Potted sweet potatoes thrive well in well-drained, sandy soil added with compost. You can learn how to make a compost bin and use your own manure for planting sweet potatoes. Remember that the pot is your slip nursery because it acts as an intermediate step between your grocery store and your garden plot.
You can also use a fertilizer high in potash, then place about four inches of soil in your pot. After that, place potato slips on top and add more inches of soil to cover them. It's important that you use a fertilizer with low nitrogen because too much nitrogen will only encourage leaves, not roots. The soil should remain moist but not drenched for a couple weeks before transplanting them in your backyard.
Position the Tubers in Water
Place each tuber to allow toothpicks to rest on the edge of the planter. The end of the tuber should face down. Fill your pot with enough water to cover the bottom half of the tuber. Then, place your pot in a sunny area and change the water every day to avoid getting too dirty.
Make sure the bottom of the tuber is submerged in water at all times. It will take a few weeks or even months to see green growth sprouting from the tuber. Once that happens, you're ready to plant your sweet potatoes in the ground. The rooted sprouts from the tuber are called slips. These slips will be what you'll use to create new sweet potatoes.
Separate the Slips
Once you've seen your sweet potato tuber sprouting, you'll want to separate the slips from the mother plant. You can use a sharp knife or simply your hands to do this. Removing the smaller shoots from the main tuber will allow you to have more sweet potatoes later on.
Also, there might be a rudimentary root structure attached to the slip that you shouldn't disturb. Lay each slip in a shallow dish with the bottom half of the tuber in the dish. Keep it in a warm, bright spot away from direct sunlight, but not so hot that it wilts.
Once the new roots are about one inch long, you can move the slips to the potting soil. Remove any wilted slip and the one without roots since they won't be viable.
Plant the Slips in Containers
If you're planning to grow your sweet potato vines as decorative plants, then look for a pot about 4 to 8 inches deep and with good drainage. It can be a terracotta pot, plastic planter, or even a decorative ceramic pot. Once the slip has grown roots one inch long, you can transfer it into a container with rich organic matter, so they have a nice growing medium.
You can also transfer your sweet potatoes to a large container and mix them with other plants if you wish. But if you're growing edible sweet potatoes, then you'll need to transfer the slips to a larger container. You can still plant your edible sweet potatoes in containers if you don't have large enough garden space for them, but they won't produce fruits in just one growing season.
Fill your container with high-quality potting soil until the soil reaches one inch below the rim. Don't firmly compress the soil because tubers need to breathe to grow larger. If your potting soil doesn't contain fertilizer, mix one tablespoon of 5-10-10 fertilizer with an equal amount of potting soil. Once your soil is mixed, place the seeds on top of the soil and cover them with a thin layer of dry dirt or sand.
Spread the sweet potato slips across the container, but don't plant them too close together. Leave enough space to ensure that each slip has enough room to grow into a full plant.
Water your containers every other day to keep the soil moist but not drenched. Once your seeds sprout, increase watering frequency daily so that your slips don't dry out. Don't forget to water the soil below where you planted your sweet potato slips because these underground vines are very susceptible to dry soil.
You will notice that some of your sweet potato slips have roots growing from the stems, while others don't. Discard any plants that grow without roots since they won't yield any potatoes. The only plant slips with roots coming out of them. Test the moisture levels by sticking your hand into the soil. If it's dry an inch down, it's time to water again.
Move Your Plants Outdoors
Sweet potatoes do well in warm weather, so make sure you keep them in an area with partial shade. The soil should be damp but not soggy, so you'll have to check the moisture levels every day. If you're growing your sweet potato vines indoors on a balcony, make sure your pots don't tip over too easily by placing them inside something like a big plastic container that won't tip over when you water.
Start Harvesting Your Sweet Potatoes
Harvest sweet potatoes when the vine dies; that's when the harvest is ready. Cut up your vines into sections about an inch in diameter, and then let them dry for at least a few days. After they've had time to air-dry, make sure there's no dew on them and cut them up into sections about 2-3 inches thick, so you've got something to hold on to while digging.
Also, harvest sweet potatoes only after four months. In most cases, sweet potatoes should be harvested before the first fall for their edibility. Harvesting sweet potatoes is much easier than harvesting regular potatoes because sweet potato tubers are more closely to the stem.
FAQS on How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Pots
How many sweet potatoes can you get from one plant?
You can get three to five slips from one sweet potato.
What is the best month for planting sweet potatoes?
It is best to plant in the fall, although you can plant any time after the vines have died.
What should I do if my sweet potato slips are yellowing?
If they're looking a little sickly, give them a quick spray with water and perk up. If your slip still looks like it's struggling, cut off the yellow leaves.
Final Thought on How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Pot
There you have it! Growing sweet potato plants in pots is a fun and easy way to get your veggies to fix out on the patio all summer long. As you can see, you only need sweet potato tubers, some good soil, water, and a pot, then wait for the next growing season to grow your own sweet potatoes.