I was at one of our local grocery/department store and I came across the section of all the flower bulbs, fruit bushes, onions, potatoes and I found sweet potatoes. I have never grown sweet potatoes, so I had to do some research to find out how to grow sweet potatoes in containers. Since these grow in the ground like any other potato, I purchased grow bags specific for potatoes. This will be perfect for growing sweet potatoes in containers.
Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Many people are not aware of the nutritional value of eating sweet potatoes. Check out the nutrients per serving.
**Nutrition of the Sweet Potato sited from www.webmd.com**
Nutrients per Serving
One sweet potato has:
- Calories: 112
- Fat: 0.07 grams
- Carbohydrates: 26 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fiber: 3.9 grams
Vitamins and Minerals
Just one sweet potato gives you 400% of the vitamin A, you need each day. This helps keep your eyes healthy as well as your immune system, your body’s defense against germs. It’s also good for your reproductive system and organs like your heart and kidneys.
Sweet potatoes are rich in:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Natural compounds called carotenoids give sweet potatoes their rich color. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, which means they have the power to protect your cells from day-to-day damage.
Risks and Warnings
Sweet potatoes are high in
carbohydrates. Some methods of cooking, like baking, roasting, and
frying, will raise their glycemic index and cause your blood sugar to
spike. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor or a dietitian about how to safely include this veggie in your meals.
Soil to Grow Sweet Potatoes
Now that we have learned about the health benefits of eating sweet potatoes, let get to how to prepare the soil to grow them. When growing sweet potatoes need loose, well-drained soil to be able to form large tubers. Having loose soil is a big deal to be successful in growing this taste treat and at least 12″ deep.
Sweet potatoes like warm soil. The soil needs to be at least 60 degrees or higher, some information I read said to have the soil at 70 or 80 degrees. There is a misconception that sweet potatoes can only be grown in warm climate, with container gardening you can grow them indoors.
Prepping Sweet Potato Before Planting
When planting a sweet potato you can get an untreated, non-GMO potato or get from a garden center. Do you remember when you were a kid in school and they showed you how to grow sprouts on a potato by sticking toothpicks on all sides then put in water, by a sunny window, and wait for sprouts? Well that is what you do with a sweet potato.
Find a small jar and fill it with cold water. What we are trying to do is grow slips. The sweet potato needs lots of water to grow slips. A canning jar or old jelly jar would probably do the trick. Put the sweet potato jar in a sunny window and wait 3 to 4 weeks for sprouts. During this time, make sure the water in the jar doesn’t go below 50 degrees as the sweet potato needs warmth.
The other method is set your seed sweet potato in a warm location (between 60 to 70 degrees) in full such in a window sill that gets full sun for one to two weeks. This will induce sprouting. Cut the potato into planting pieces or seeds.
Each piece should be approximately 1 1/2″ – 2″ squares and must contain at least 1 or 2 eyes. You can tell the eyes by the indentations or dimples on the sweet potato. Small potatoes with a minimal amount of eyes may be planted whole. Allow the seeds to dry and form a callous over their cuts.
Keeping the Sweet Potato Warm
If you are doing the water method. You need to keep the water temperature up you may need to change the water in the jar by replacing the water with warm water twice a day, or put in a warm spot and use a grow light, to help regulate temperature and get the light it needs. In 3 to 4 weeks, the sweet potato will grow leaves and reach 6 inches long.
The cut method, is to leave the cuts of sweet potato in the warm spot and allow the slips to grow.
The leaves may appear before the proper height of the slip, Don’t remove them too early, until both signs of maturity have met. The growing time can be extended to get proper slips.
When its time gently twist the slips until they separate from the sweet potato. If you live in a warmer climate, you can continue to make slips for a longer growing season. Once you are done making slips you can throw away tuber you used as the seed to make the slips.
Place the slips in 3 to 4 inches of water for a few days until new roots form at the base of the stems. When several roots are over an inch long you slips are ready to plant. Keep fresh water for the slips until they can be planted.
Be careful not to cut or knick the stem of the slips, while trimming the leave, you could have sprouts grow from that spot.
Time to Plant the Sweet Potato
Find the container of your choice. I prefer the containers for potatoes, (I will put the link on the bottom of the post). Depending on how many sweet potatoes you want to grow, you can get 7 gallon 10 gallon, and 15 gallon, grow bags for potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and any onions. I read a 20 lb container is needed for 6 sweet potato slips. So if you are trying to figure out which gallon size bag to get, you can use that as a guide. You could get 2 10 gallon bags and put 3 or maybe 4 slips in each container. These grow bags are perfect for anything that grows underground. You harvest from the bottom of the bag.
You will need to get a big bag of good organic potting soil. Fill your container about 3/4 full of soil. Compact the soil a bit and then add more soil to get to the 3/4 full again. Avoid soil or compost rich in nitrogen. Nitrogen will produce nice leaves but not tubers, we want big tubers. Depending on how many slips you are planting in each container, for example, 1 – 10 gal container, you can have 3 to 4 slips, spread them out evenly when planting in the container. You can wear gardening gloves while you are planting to keep soil from getting in your finger nails.
Water regularly for 100 days and keep the temperature up, the soil can’t drop below 50 degrees. Sweet potatoes take 100 days to harvest. Each slip grows its own sweet potato. Some may grow bigger or smaller than other, it all depends on sunlight, and water on how each will grow.
Sweet Potato Harvest Time!
You will want to harvest the sweet potatoes before the first frost or maybe when the temperatures go below 50 degrees or bring them indoors. Sweet potatoes don’t like cool temperatures and can reduce the quality of the potatoes and their ability to keep. It is recommended to harvest the sweet potato on a dry and overcast day.
If planted in the ground or traditional container, try to avoid injuring the tubers, find the primary crown and loosen the soil in a wide circle around the plant. The crowns of the plants can be pulled up if you are using a regular type container or raised bed. To make digging out the tuber easier, you can cut the vines and remove them.
If you are using the grow bags where you harvest from the bottom, you should be able to just remove the tubers.
Let the potatoes dry on the ground for a couple of hours, but do not leave the roots out overnight. After drying them outside, cure the potatoes by keeping them in a warm, humid, and ventilated place for 10-14 days. If you live in a warm climate you might be able to keep them outside if the temperature is 80 degrees for 2 weeks.
If you live in a cold climate, you might want to consider transforming a shed or basement area with a heater to cure the sweet potatoes. Also, adding a humidifier to add humidity for curing. The process causes a thin protective layer to form on the outer part of the skin of the sweet potato, called suberin. If you allow the process of suberin to take place the sweet potatoes can remain unspoiled for up to a year in room temperature, dry, well ventilated and round 60 degrees.
Sweet potatoes are my favorite of the potato family. They have awesome health benefits but also is known to raise your glucose levels. I didn’t know about creating slips first from an actual sweet potato first and 1 slip for 1 sweet potato. The other thing I found interesting is the curing process. I am not sure if I can come up with a place for 2 weeks, 80 degrees and humid. The only thing going is our fall seasons have been pretty warm, so I might be able to do it.
Here is the link for the Grow Bags from Amazon, I talked about earlier. These are the best for container gardening vegetables that grow under ground.
As an Amazon Associate. I earn from qualifying purchases.
I hope you found this information helpful! How to grow sweet potatoes in containers. Please leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve grown sweet potatoes before or plan to this year. I would love to hear from you!
Also check out my Review for Raised Bed Garden Kits