how to grow sweet potatoes


Sweet potatoes grow from “slips,” or vines that sprout from the potato’s buds. One sweet potato can produce up to 50 slips, so it’s easy to start growing your own using this simple method. Read the steps below to learn how to grow your own sweet potatoes at home to use in all kinds of nutritious sweet potato recipes.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Knife
  • Toothpicks
  • Wide-mouth jars
  • Shallow bowl
  • Potting soil and planters

See more: 5 Tasty Sweet Potato Recipes

Prepare the Sweet Potatoes

First, inspect your sweet potatoes for any bad spots or signs of damage. Make sure you’re using firm sweet potatoes without any bruises or soft spots, as damaged sweet potatoes are more likely to mold when rooting.

growing a sweet potato in a jar

Photo credit: iStock/rudolfoelias

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut any large potatoes into pieces slightly smaller than the opening of your wide-mouth jars.
  2. Insert four toothpicks around the middle of each sweet potato, spacing them evenly around the circumference.
  3. Place each potato in a jar so that the toothpicks are resting on the mouth of the jar and half the potato is inside. The narrower end of the potato should be facing down.
  4. Fill the jar with enough water to cover the bottom half of the potato.
  5. Put the jar next to a sunny window and replace the water every couple of days. After a few weeks (up to a month), you will see green growth sprouting from the top of the potato. (If you don’t, try replacing the tap water with distilled water.)
See Also:  Guide to Alternative Flours

Preparing the Slips

  1. Carefully separate each sprout from the sweet potato.
  2. Place each slip into a shallow bowl filled with water so that the bottom of the slip is fully submerged and the leaves are hanging over the edges of the bowl.
  3. Wait a few days for roots to start growing from the bottom of each slip.

See more: 6 Interesting Facts About Sweet Potatoes (Infographic)

Planting the Sweet Potato Slips

  1. Once the roots are 1 inch long, the slips are ready to be planted in potting soil. (Discard any slip that hasn’t produced roots.)
  2. Fill a container up to 1 inch below the rim with potting soil.
  3. In the center of the soil, make a hole deep enough to cover the roots of the slip. Place one or two slips into the hole and cover with soil, patting the soil firmly around the plant.
  4. Water the slips thoroughly and place your container/s in a sunny spot indoors. Keep the soil moist but not too wet, and water the slips when the soil feels dry

Planting Outside

  1. Wait until the outdoor soil reaches at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit and any chance of a frost has passed before planting your sweet potatoes outside.
  2. Plant them in loose soil (preparing the soil is key) and wait 100 to 140 days for them to fully mature before harvesting.
  3. Be sure to harvest before the first frost in the fall.


  1. You actually just plant the sweet potato vine, not the potato. We’ve clarified the steps above.

    Jessy Yancey
    Editor, Farm Flavor


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