How To Plant Sprouting Sweet Potato [ Full Guide ]

Sweet potatoes are not only a delicious addition to your diet, but they are also a rewarding crop to grow. One way to start growing sweet potatoes is by using sprouting sweet potatoes. These are sweet potatoes that have been left to sprout, producing "slips" that can be planted to grow new sweet potato plants. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of planting sprouting sweet potatoes, from selecting the right variety to planting the slips in containers.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Sprouting Sweet Potato

  1. Select a suitable sweet potato variety for sprouting, such as Beauregard or Georgia Jet.
  2. Choose a healthy, organic sweet potato with visible sprouts.
  3. Cut the sweet potato into sections, each containing a sprout, and allow them to dry for a day.
  4. Prepare a sprouting environment with a mix of water and soil.
  5. Place the sweet potato sections with sprouts into the soil, covering the lower portion of each section.
  6. Keep the soil moist and provide adequate sunlight and warmth for optimal growth.
  7. Transfer the sprouted sweet potato slips into larger containers or a garden bed once they have developed roots and leaves.

Selecting The Right Sweet Potato Variety For Sprouting

Not all sweet potato varieties are ideal for sprouting. Some varieties are more conducive to producing healthy slips which will in turn yield bountiful sweet potatoes. The two widely recommended varieties are Beauregard and Georgia Jet. These varieties are known for their ability to produce vigorous and healthy slips, making them excellent choices for sprouting sweet potatoes and subsequent cultivation.

Preparing The Sweet Potato For Sprouting

Start by selecting a healthy, organic sweet potato with visible sprouts. These sprouts are the precursors to the slips that will be planted to grow new sweet potato plants. Once you have your sweet potato, it’s time to prepare it for sprouting.

Carefully cut the sweet potato into sections, ensuring that each section contains at least one visible sprout. It’s important to handle the sweet potato gently to avoid damaging the sprouts. After cutting the sweet potato, allow the sections to dry for a day. This drying process helps to heal the cuts and decrease the risk of rot when the sweet potato sections are placed in the soil.

Creating A Suitable Sprouting Environment

Next, you’ll need to create a suitable sprouting environment for the sweet potato sections. Prepare a container with a well-draining potting mix. A mixture of equal parts peat moss, perlite, and compost makes for an excellent medium for sprouting sweet potatoes. Fill the container with the potting mix, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

Make small depressions in the potting mix, spaced a few inches apart, to accommodate the sweet potato sections. The depressions should be deep enough to cover the lower portion of each sweet potato section, leaving the sprouts exposed above the soil.

Planting Sweet Potato Slips In Containers

Place each sweet potato section into the prepared depressions in the potting mix. Gently cover the lower portion of each section with soil, ensuring that the sprouts remain above the surface. Water the potting mix thoroughly, ensuring that it is evenly moist but not waterlogged.

It’s essential to provide the sprouting sweet potato with optimal growing conditions to encourage healthy slip production. Place the container in a warm, sunny location, such as a windowsill or a greenhouse. Ideally, the ambient temperature should be between 70°F and 80°F (21°C and 27°C) to promote vigorous and healthy sprout development.

Growing sweet potatoes from sprouting sweet potatoes is a satisfying and straightforward process. By selecting the right sweet potato variety, preparing the sweet potato sections for sprouting, creating a conducive sprouting environment, and planting the sweet potato slips in containers, you can kickstart the growth of new sweet potato plants. After the slips have developed roots and leaves, they can be transferred to larger containers or a garden bed to continue their growth journey. With proper care and attention, you’ll soon be able to harvest your own delicious and nutritious sweet potatoes.

Planting Sweet Potato Slips In Gardens

Sweet potatoes are a versatile and delicious vegetable that can be easily grown in your own garden. While most people start their sweet potato plants from slips, which are young sprouts that grow from the tubers, another method is to plant sprouting sweet potatoes directly in the ground. This alternative approach offers convenience and can be a fun experiment for gardeners of all levels.

Before we delve into the steps of planting sprouting sweet potatoes, it’s worth mentioning the traditional method of using slips. Slips are small sprouts that grow from sweet potato tubers and are typically removed and planted separately. However, if you have sweet potatoes that are already sprouting, you can skip the slip production step and directly plant the sprouting tubers. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare the soil: Sweet potatoes thrive in loose, well-drained soil. Before planting, prepare your garden bed by loosening the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. Remove any rocks, weeds, or other debris from the area.

  2. Choose the right location: Sweet potatoes require a sunny spot in the garden with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Ensure the area has good air circulation to prevent diseases.

  3. Plant sprouting sweet potatoes: Once you have prepared the soil, dig a hole in the ground that is wide enough to accommodate the sprouting sweet potato tuber. Place the sprouting tuber in the hole with the sprouts pointing upwards and cover it gently with soil, leaving the sprouts exposed.

  4. Spacing considerations: Sweet potatoes require ample space to spread and grow. Space your sprouting sweet potatoes at least 12-18 inches apart to provide them with enough room to develop.

  5. Watering: After planting, water the sweet potatoes thoroughly to settle the soil and provide initial moisture for the sprouting tuber.

  6. Mulching: Cover the soil around the plants with a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips. Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil, suppresses weeds, and maintains an even temperature.

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Caring For Sprouting Sweet Potatoes

After planting your sprouting sweet potatoes, they will require proper care throughout their growing season. Here are some essential tips to ensure your sweet potatoes thrive:

  1. Watering: Sweet potatoes require consistent soil moisture, especially during their initial growth stages. Make sure to provide enough water to keep the soil slightly moist but not waterlogged. Mulching the area around the plants helps retain moisture and reduces water evaporation.

  2. Weeding: Regular weeding is crucial to prevent competition for nutrients and resources. Be diligent in removing any weeds that grow near your sweet potato plants. Hand pulling is the best method to avoid damaging the shallow roots of sweet potatoes.

  3. Hilling: Sweet potatoes benefit from hilling, which involves creating mounds of soil around the base of the plants. This technique helps with weed control, improves aeration, and enhances yield. Approximately three weeks after planting, gently mound the soil around the base of the plants, leaving a few inches of the sprouts exposed. Repeat the hilling process every two to three weeks as the plants grow.

  4. Temperature considerations: Sweet potatoes are warm-weather crops and require a consistent temperature range of 75-85°F (24-29°C) for optimal growth. Ensure your garden location provides the necessary warmth. In cooler regions, using black plastic mulch or fabric row covers can help raise the temperature around the plants.

  5. Pruning: Sweet potato plants can become sprawling and dense as they grow, which can hinder air circulation and increase the risk of diseases. To promote proper airflow, gently prune back excessive foliage, especially if the plants appear overcrowded.

  6. Harvesting: Sweet potatoes are ready to be harvested when the foliage starts to turn yellow and die back. This usually occurs around three to four months after planting, depending on the variety. Carefully dig around the base of the plants to avoid accidentally damaging the tubers. Lift the sweet potatoes from the ground, brush off any excess soil, and allow them to cure in a warm, dry area for a week before storing.

Watering And Fertilizing Tips For Healthy Growth

Proper watering and fertilization are essential for the healthy growth of sprouting sweet potatoes. Here are some tips to ensure your plants receive the necessary nutrients and moisture:

  1. Watering frequency: Sweet potatoes require consistent moisture throughout their growing season. During periods of dry weather, water the plants deeply once or twice a week to ensure the soil remains slightly moist. However, avoid overwatering, as excessively wet conditions can lead to rot and other diseases.

  2. Drip irrigation: Using drip irrigation is an efficient way to deliver water directly to the plants’ root zones, minimizing water waste and reducing the risk of leaf diseases. Install a drip irrigation system in your sweet potato bed for optimal water distribution.

  3. Fertilization: Sweet potatoes are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. Before planting, add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil to improve its fertility. Additionally, apply a balanced organic fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at planting time and once again approximately six weeks later. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application rates.

  4. Avoid excessive nitrogen: While sweet potatoes require a balanced fertilizer, avoid excessive nitrogen. High nitrogen levels can lead to lush foliage growth at the expense of tuber development. Look for a fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to ensure balanced nutrition.

Managing Pests And Diseases In Sprouting Sweet Potatoes

Like any garden crop, sprouting sweet potatoes are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. However, with proper management and preventive measures, you can minimize the impact of these issues. Here are some common pests and diseases to watch out for:

  1. Sweet potato weevils: These insects are a significant threat to sweet potatoes, as they can cause extensive damage. To prevent infestation, examine both the sprouting tubers and the slips for any signs of weevils before planting. If you notice any infestation, dispose of the affected plants immediately to prevent the spread of the pests.

  2. Wireworms: These soil-dwelling pests feed on the roots of sweet potatoes and can lead to stunted growth and reduced yields. To prevent wireworm infestation, practice crop rotation and remove any potential breeding sites, such as decaying organic matter. If the infestation is severe, consider using nematodes or other biological control methods.

  3. Fungal diseases: Sweet potatoes can be susceptible to fungal diseases such as black rot, damping-off, and powdery mildew. To prevent these diseases, provide adequate air circulation by spacing your plants appropriately and avoiding crowded conditions. Remove any infected plants immediately and dispose of them away from the garden area. Applying a copper-based fungicide according to the manufacturer’s instructions can also help control fungal diseases.

  4. Slugs and snails: These pests can cause substantial damage to sweet potato leaves and tender shoots. To control slugs and snails, practice good garden hygiene by removing any plant debris that could serve as hiding spots. Additionally, consider using barriers like copper tape or diatomaceous earth, or employ natural predators such as ducks or beneficial nematodes.

  5. Viral diseases: Sweet potato viruses, such as sweet potato feathery mottle virus and sweet potato leaf curl virus, can impact plant health and yield. Planting certified disease-free slips or sprouting tubers is the best prevention method. If you notice any symptoms of viral infection, promptly remove and destroy the affected plants to prevent further spread.

Planting sprouting sweet potatoes can be an exciting alternative to traditional methods of growing sweet potato slips in gardens. By following the steps outlined in this guide and implementing proper care practices, you can successfully grow healthy sweet potato plants and enjoy a bountiful harvest. Remember to provide the necessary conditions such as sunlight, well-drained soil, and consistent moisture. Take precautions against pests and diseases through preventive measures and timely intervention. With a little effort and attention, you can enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own delicious sweet potatoes at home.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes From Sprouts

Planting sprouting sweet potatoes is an excellent way to grow your own delicious and healthy tubers. Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutritious crop that can be used in a variety of dishes, from roasting to mashing and everything in between. Starting sweet potatoes from sprouts is a cost-effective method that allows you to propagate your plants without the need for seeds or expensive equipment.

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Before you can plant sprouting sweet potatoes, you will need to harvest the sprouts from your existing sweet potatoes. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Select the right sweet potato: Choose a healthy sweet potato from your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Look for large, firm tubers with no signs of decay or damage.

  2. Preparing the sweet potato: Place the sweet potato horizontally on a tray or container, and expose it to indirect sunlight. This will encourage the sprouts to grow.

  3. Wait for sprouts to appear: It may take several weeks for the sprouts to appear. Be patient and check the sweet potato regularly. Once the sprouts are around 6 inches long, they are ready to be harvested.

  4. Gently remove the sprouts: Carefully detach the sprouts from the sweet potato by gently pulling them away from the base. Be cautious not to damage the sprouts or the sweet potato.

  5. Trim the sprouts: Trim the sprouts to about 3 inches in length, using a sharp knife or scissors. This will encourage stronger root development.

  6. Prepare for planting: Fill a container or a seedling tray with a well-draining potting mix. Make small holes or furrows in the soil, about 2 inches apart.

  7. Plant the sprouts: Place the trimmed sprouts in the prepared holes or furrows, ensuring that the roots are positioned downwards. Gently cover the sprouts with soil and pat it down lightly.

Storing And Preserving Harvested Sweet Potatoes

Once you have successfully harvested your sprouts and planted them, it’s important to know how to store and preserve the sweet potatoes after they have grown. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Curing the sweet potatoes: After harvesting, it is crucial to cure the sweet potatoes to enhance their flavor and increase their storage life. To do this, lay the harvested sweet potatoes on a flat surface, such as a wire rack or a newspaper-covered countertop, in a warm (80-85°F) and well-ventilated area. Allow them to cure for about 10-14 days. This process allows the sweet potatoes’ skin to toughen and their sugars to convert to starch, resulting in a sweeter flavor.

  2. Proper storage conditions: Once cured, sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area. The ideal temperature range for storing sweet potatoes is between 55-60°F (13-15°C) with a humidity level of 75-85%. Avoid temperatures below 50°F (10°C) as it can cause the sweet potatoes to degrade quickly.

  3. Avoid moisture: Sweet potatoes are susceptible to rot if exposed to moisture. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or containers that can trap humidity. Instead, use burlap bags or ventilated containers to allow air circulation and prevent excessive moisture accumulation.

  4. Regularly inspect the potatoes: Check your stored sweet potatoes regularly for any signs of decay or disease. Remove any spoiled ones immediately to prevent further spread.

  5. Preserving sweet potatoes: If you have a surplus of sweet potatoes, you can preserve them by canning, freezing, or dehydrating. Canning involves cooking the sweet potatoes before placing them in jars with the addition of syrup or liquid. Freezing requires blanching the sweet potatoes before freezing them in airtight containers. Dehydrating involves slicing the sweet potatoes thinly and drying them in a dehydrator or an oven at a low temperature.

Troubleshooting Common Issues In Sprouting Sweet Potatoes

While sprouting sweet potatoes can be a rewarding process, it is not without its challenges. Here are some common issues you may encounter and how to troubleshoot them:

  1. Lack of sprouts: If your sweet potato is not producing any sprouts, it may not be the right variety for sprouting. Some sweet potato varieties are not as suitable for sprouting as others. Try using a different variety or look for sweet potatoes labeled specifically for sprouting.

  2. Weak or stunted sprouts: Weak or stunted sprouts are often a result of poor growing conditions. Ensure that your sweet potato is exposed to enough indirect sunlight and is placed in a warm environment. Additionally, make sure you are using a well-draining potting mix to prevent waterlogged roots.

  3. Pest infestations: Sweet potatoes can be susceptible to pests such as aphids, cutworms, and weevils. Monitor your plants regularly and take appropriate measures to control pests. Natural pest control methods such as companion planting or introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs can be effective.

  4. Disease issues: Sweet potatoes can suffer from various diseases, including fungal infections and viruses. Ensure proper sanitation practices, such as disinfecting tools before use, and avoid planting sweet potatoes in the same area where they were previously grown. If you notice any unusual symptoms, consult with a local agricultural extension office for appropriate diagnosis and treatment options.

  5. Poor tuber development: If your sprouting sweet potatoes are not producing robust tubers, it may be due to inadequate nutrients or overcrowding. Ensure that your plants are adequately spaced and provide them with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth.

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Tips And Tricks For Successful Sprouting And Growth

To maximize your chances of successful sprouting and growth, here are some additional tips and tricks:

  1. Select the right location: Sweet potatoes thrive in warm and sunny environments. Choose a location in your garden that receives full sun for at least six to eight hours a day. The soil should be well-draining, loose, and rich in organic matter.

  2. Start indoors: To get a head start on the growing season, consider starting your sprouts indoors about four to six weeks before the last expected frost. Use biodegradable seedling pots or egg cartons filled with a high-quality potting mix. Transplant the sprouts outdoors once the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost has passed.

  3. Provide proper support: Sweet potato vines can spread vigorously and take up a lot of space. To save space and provide support, consider using trellises, cages, or stakes. This will also help prevent the tubers from sprawling on the ground and becoming susceptible to pests and diseases.

  4. Water judiciously: Sweet potatoes require consistent moisture, especially during the initial growth phase. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can cause root rot. Water deeply once a week, allowing the top few inches of soil to dry out between watering. Mulching around the plants can help conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

  5. Use organic fertilizers: Avoid using synthetic fertilizers, as sweet potatoes prefer nutrient-rich soil. Instead, use organic fertilizers such as well-rotted compost, aged manure, or fish emulsion. Apply the fertilizer in moderation to avoid excessive vegetative growth at the expense of tuber development.

  6. Practice crop rotation: To prevent the buildup of pests and diseases, avoid planting sweet potatoes in the same spot in consecutive years. Practice a three-year crop rotation, planting sweet potatoes in a different area of your garden each year.

  7. Harvest at the right time: Sweet potatoes are typically ready for harvest between three to four months after planting. Look for signs such as yellowing leaves and withering vines. Carefully dig up the tubers, taking care not to damage them. Allow the harvested sweet potatoes to cure before storing them.

Conclusion

Planting sprouting sweet potatoes is a rewarding and cost-effective way to grow your own tubers. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully harvest sprouts from sweet potatoes, store and preserve the harvested tubers, troubleshoot common issues, and implement helpful tips for successful sprouting and growth. With a little patience and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of sweet potatoes that will bring flavor and nutrition to your meals.

FAQS

What Is The Best Time To Plant Sprouting Sweet Potatoes?

The best time to plant sweet potatoes is in late spring or early summer, when the soil has warmed up to at least 60°F. This will give the tubers enough time to grow and mature before the first frost in the fall.

Where Can I Find Sprouting Sweet Potatoes?

You can find sprouting sweet potatoes at most grocery stores or farmer’s markets. Look for ones that have small sprouts or "eyes" growing out of them.

Can I Use A Whole Sweet Potato Or Do I Need To Cut It?

You can use a whole sweet potato or cut it into pieces with at least one "eye" each. If you choose to cut the potato, make sure to let the cut pieces dry out for a few days before planting to prevent rotting.

Do I Need To Prepare The Soil Before Planting?

Yes, it is important to prepare the soil before planting sweet potatoes. They require loose, well-drained soil with a pH between 5.8-6.2. You can amend the soil with compost or aged manure to improve its texture and nutrient content.

How Deep Should I Plant The Sweet Potato?

You should plant sweet potatoes about 4 inches deep, with the sprouting "eyes" facing up. If planting in rows, space the sprouts about 12 inches apart with 3-4 feet between rows. If planting in a mound, mound up soil around the base of the sprouts to promote better root growth.