I love sweet potatoes, they’re so versatile! You can make a sweet potato into pretty much anything. Curry, stew, chili, fries, chips, even simply baked with some butter. Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of vitamins and growing them is so easy!
Sweet potatoes are easy to grow in containers, they take very little tending, and best yet: they’re two crops in one! Potato leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and are packed with nutrition! Potato leaves can be substituted for kale or spinach in almost any recipe and lend a lot of vitamins with little flavor to green smoothies.
Sweet potatoes are the perfect crop for any container gardener!
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Containers
Step 1: Buy a sweet potato
Some people will tell you that you HAVE to buy an organic sweet potato. If you want to spend the extra money on an organic potato, by all means do so! I am here to tell you, however, that this isn’t necessary. I’ve never used an organic potato and I’ve had great success growing sweet potatoes for years. You need 1 potato per container.
Step 2: Let the sweet potato get old
Some people will tell you that you have to cut the potato and make a “slip” by using toothpicks to prop the potato pieces in a glass of water. You can do that if you want, but again, it’s really not necessary. Toss the potato in the pantry and let it sit for a while, until it starts to grow little white “hairs” (it’s not mold!)
Step 3: Fill a large container with quality potting soil.
I use 30 gallon storage containers than I purchase cheaply after the holidays and during back-to-school season, just poke some holes in the bottom and layer the bottom with some small rocks. You can also use these nifty growing pots:
I use Miracle Gro Potting Mix for Vegetables but you can use whatever you like.
4. Cut the potato in half and toss the pieces in the soil, cover them, then place the pot in a sunny spot. Rotate the pot every week or so.
Sweet potatoes like warm soil, so the sunnier the spot the better! I live in Florida so I typically start my sweet potatoes between February & March (using potatoes from Christmas, LOL!)but if you’re in a cold climate you might want to keep your containers inside near a sunny window until all chance of freezing has past.
5. Tend your plants.
This part is easy, it really, really is. If the leaves start to wilt, water the plant with about a gallon. If the vines grow out of the containers tuck them back in. When the plant starts to take over the world cut the old leaves off and eat them (they freeze well, just like spinach!), just don’t remove more than 25% of the leaves at any time and don’t cut the new leaves.
6. Wait patiently.
Sweet potatoes are not a quick crop (which is why it’s so cool that you can eat the leaves!), they take many months to grow. After about 4 months you can dig one up and see how big it is. I like to leave mine in for closer to 6 months. The good news is that even tiny sweet potatoes can be used and are delicious, in fact some consider them a specialty.
You can harvest them all at once, or one or two at a time. Just stick your hands in the dirt, feel around, and yank them out! Most of the potatoes grown in containers will be small to medium but the bigger the container (and the longer they grow), the bigger you will get…like this baby:
To store potatoes simply wipe them off with a DRY cloth, do NOT rinse them! Allow them to completely air dry & store in a cool, dark place like the back of your pantry or a root cellar. The longer you store them, the sweeter they become.
That’s it! Easy, right?? You won’t find a crop that produces so much with so little work. Growing sweet potatoes in containers is really easy and I hope you give it a try!