Posted on 23 June 2008 by

UGC Reader Question: Can You Grow Sweet Potatoes in a Container?

By Vanessa Richins

Many vegetables are suitable for planting in a container, and sweet potatoes are no exception!

These relatives of the Morning Glory plant are very easy to grow this way.

First, you should get your sweet potato sprouting. If you can, try to find locally or organic grown sweet potatoes, as the ones you find in regular grocery stores are often chemically treated to keep them from sprouting. All you need to do is place the root end (the smaller one) in a jar of water and wait.

They like it hot, so keep it somewhere that is warm in the house. Just a caution – these do not have ‘eyes’ like potatoes, so don’t cut them up. You should get several sprouts (called slips) growing soon after. Once they are about 6″ long, they are ready to be planted.

Second, you need a suitable container. I would suggest using at least a 2 gallon size. You can even use a hanging basket if you like, since sweet potato vines are long and trailing and would look lovely planted this way.However, if you’re like me, and you want to grow many sweet potatoes, buy one of the larger tote bins.

Next, you’ll need to prepare the container properly. If it doesn’t already have drainage holes, be sure to drill several as sweet potatoes need to be well drained. Add in compost and soil, and you are ready to plant.

Carefully break a slip off of your sweet potato and bury it in the soil, leaving about 1/3 of the plant above ground. As the vines grow, you can bury them beneath the soil. The vines root very easily…and the more roots you have growing, the bigger the possible harvest becomes. Plants should be spaced at least 1.5′ apart.

Congratulations! In about 3.5-4 months, you should be able to dig out your very own batch of sweet potatoes. Don’t eat them right away though – set them in a warm, shady spot for a few days to dry out. Enjoy!

Incidentally, here’s one of my favorite random bits of horticulture trivia that I love to go around telling people (what can I say? I’m a garden geek.) : There are no such things as yams in America. Those yams you buy in the store are merely another kind of sweet potato. True yams are gigantic and grow in Asia and Africa.

6 Responses to “UGC Reader Question: Can You Grow Sweet Potatoes in a Container?”

  1. LivingSimple47 Says:

    Thank you SOOOOOOOOOO much for this information. It was very informative and simple enough for this novice to grasp.

  2. Courtney Says:

    Wow, that sounds really easy! Thanks for posting that. 🙂

  3. Uncle B Says:

    Thank you for this very clear sweet potato method. This will add one more veggie to my huge collection of new-found foods that I can and do grow in my backyard garden. I fear an oncoming depression and great deprivation for my North American people. I promise to develop this into good simple methods that I can pass on to others in need. God Bless

  4. Rekha Says:

    Sweet potato also useful for the persons who are health conscious

  5. jim wilson Says:

    You must age sweet potatoes for at least 10 days at 85 -95 degrees. If you don’t, they will not have their natural sweetness. One hill of Beauregard S/P will yield up to 40# of fruit and they do not need good soil. They do require water at 1 1/2″ per week but none the last 3 weeks before harvesting as this will cause the actual tubers(fruits) to sprout and sap their nutrients. If they are properly aged and stored at 55-65 degrees, they will keep till nearly the next harvest season. This season can start early as you can ‘rob’ the hills after only 75 days from planting. The plants will do very much better if you mound the dirt over the original planting spot several times during the season. In solid clay soil this is essential but otherwise they do fine in clay. Don’t worry if you cut them while harvesting. The aging process will cause a clean covering to form over the wound and they will not spoil. Also never refrigerate S/P as it causes the sugars to return to starch form and the accompanying loss of taste. If they get to cold a re-ageing process will return them to high sugar content.

  6. William Irvine Says:

    I have been told that the leaves of the sweet potato can be eaten as well as the potato itself. Is this true? What is the procedure for doing so without hurting the plant?

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