How to Grow Sweet Potatoes Indoors?

Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato (Source: Pexels)

If your pantry is full of sweet potatoes that are otherwise sprouting or have a batch you did not get around to cooking, you better not discard them!

Plant these tubers in a container to get wholesome sweet potatoes that you and your family can enjoy around the year!

Here is how to grow them indoors in a container!

Sprout the slips and plant them in well-drained soil mixed with mild organic compost. Place it in the full sunlight and water every week until two months but cut back at least one month before harvesting.

Voila, your batch is ready to harvest in about 90-100 days after planting.

Sweet potato
Sweet potato (Source: Pixabay.com)

Whether you are a beginner or seasoned gardener, you can grow them yourself in just a few easy steps.

Here is the secret to growing healthier and delicious sweet potatoes at home.

Can you Grow Sweet Potatoes Indoors?

Yes, you can grow sweet potato slips indoors.

Keep in mind; these tubers are technically an outdoor plant; thus, they need a sunny outdoor location with at least 6-8 hours of full sunlight to grow.

Mimic these exact outdoor conditions with a proper temperature to sunlight and soil condition! Then, within few months, you will have massive yields ready to consume!

Growing sweet potato
Growing sweet potatoes (Source: Pixabay.com)

Choose a bush variety of sweet potatoes when growing indoors that can quickly grow in a limited space!

Most importantly, you would need to sprout your slips before you can plant them. Otherwise, you can buy a fresh batch of sprouted slips from the market!

Quick Tip: You can quickly “Sprout” slips by placing each tuber submerged into a glass of water until the slips (green vines) start sprouting within a few weeks.

Benefits of Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors

Growing sweet potatoes indoors has an advantage over its counterparts grown outdoors:

1. Warm temperature

Container-grown sweet potatoes can be kept warm at all times. Growing indoors means you can dictate the temperature at all times.

2. Protection from Cold

It also protects the yields from the early frost of the later season.

Slips grown in the container are safe from cold drafts that appear at night.

3. Protection from Pests and Diseases

It also protects them from potential pests, disease, and fungus, including;

PestsDetail
Alternia Leaf SpotFungus infestation that creates brown lesions on the leaves
Fusarium Rot A fungus infestation leading to the swollen and distorted base of stems
Bacterial wilt Bacterial infection that infects healthy sprouts
Sweet Potato Stem Borer A larvae pest that feeds at the crown region of the crop

4. Contain the Massive Size

Growing in a container will help contain the massive size of otherwise growing vines without damaging the yields.

Healhty Sweet Potatoes
Healthy Sweet Potatoes (Source: Pixabay.com)

Sweet Potato Varieties to Grow Indoors

Not all sweet potatoes are created equal!

You can find over 6,000 different varieties of sweet potatoes, but not all of them are ideal for growing indoors.

For indoor gardening, select a bush variety over vining one with shorter and less-proliferating foliage but still gives good yields!

Here is the list of five sweet potato varieties best for growing indoors.

1. Beaureguard

Beaureguard is the king of all sweet potato varieties because it does well even in poor soil conditions!

You will usually find these orange-fleshed sweet potatoes dominating the shelves in the supermarket!

Most farmers choose Beaureguard rooting because it is highly resistant to white grub, a plant-eating scarab beetle, and fusarium wilt.

2. Jewel

Jewel is considered the Queen of sweet potatoes because it is used in many recipes!

These tubers are short and sweet compared to other varieties; thus, perfect for growing indoors.

Expect to be highly rewarded if you can wait longer because it may take well over 120 days to mature.

3. Bush Porto Rico

Also known as “Bunch,” this vineless tuber gives big yields and tastes old-fashioned delicious.

It is perfect for growing indoors because of its compact size. However, it may take well over 110 days to mature.

Bush Porto Rico
Bush Porto Rico

4. Centennial

Popularly known as “Baby Bakers,” this variety reaches maturity in about 90 days and is best for short-season areas!

It has a carrot-like color inside and orange skin. You would mostly find them in the restaurant served as fries.

5. Covington

Covington is a medium-sized grower with short vines ideal for indoor rooting and matures in about 110 days!

This orange-fleshed tuber is mainly eaten either roasted or mashed.

Covington Sweet Potato
Covington Sweet Potato (Source: Unsplash.com)

Note: There is a variety known as Georgia Jet that grows well in both warm and cold temperatures. It is best for growing sweet potatoes in cold areas!

Favorable Condition for Growing Sweet Potatoes

Let’s look at a quick summary of the favorable conditions required to grow sweet potato indoors.

ParametersFavorable Condition
Soil pH5.6 to 6.5
Soil TypeWell drained, Sandy Loam, Loamy Sand, Sandy Clay Loam
Soil Temperature60°F or above
Air Temperature75°F to 95°F
Fertilizer Ratio (N-P-K)5-10-10 or 8-24-24
Irrigation1 inch of water every week (Water for two months, but cut back a month before harvesting)
Harvesting90 to 130 Days (Depending on the variety)
Pest InformationFoliar Feeding Insects, Wireworms, Fusarium root rot
Climatic Condition Sweet Potatoes enjoy warm conditions (spring and summer)

Indoor Localities to Grow Sweet Potatoes

There is no doubt that sweet potatoes grown outdoors will increase quicker and yield more, but you can expect a good yield with the right conditions inside the home.

Sweet potatoes grow in the temperature between 75-80℉ and may wither when it drops below 60℉. So keep it in mind when choosing an indoor location!

1. Growing Sweet Potatoes Near the Window

Choosing a well-lit area is essential for both the sprouting and rooting process.

When sprouting sweet potatoes in a glass or jar of water, place it on a windowsill that receives continuous light.

Once you root the sprouts in a soil container, ensure to place it in an area that receives at least 6-8 hours of continuous sunlight, such as near the window.

Ensure to place the container on a raised deck or wall to avoid cold drafts coming from below.

2. Growing Sweet Potatoes in the Terrace or Patio

A terrace or patio is a great location to place your sweet potato container because it will receive an endless amount of sunlight.

However, ensure to protect your tubers from dropping the temperature by insulating them with black fabric.

Grow them on a terrace or patio only when the danger of frost has passed.

Best Container to Grow Sweet Potato Indoors

An appropriately sized container allows the slips to absorb moisture and nutrients more efficiently.

Containers created specifically for root plants work wonderfully. Anything from a bucket, grow bags to pots with an adequate number of drainage holes will work.

Alternatively, you can use the totes or plastic and clay containers lying around the house that is big enough to hold 5-10 gallon of soil.

Otherwise, you can purchase inexpensive grow bags and smart pots online.

NameVarietySizeImage
Berry Blue Smart PotSmart Pot3-10 gallons/15-25 gallon
Gardzen 20-Pack 10 Gallon Grow BagsGrow Pot10 gallon
Root Pouch Grow bagGrow Pot10 gallon
GORDITA Potato-Grow-BagsGrow Pot10 x 2 gallon
Rouffiel Potato Grow Bags with Harvest WindowGrow Pot10 x 2 gallon
Sunnydaze Rustic Villa Fiber Clay PlanterClay5 gallon

Note: Remember, you can plant 1 -2 potato slips in a 5-gallon bucket, 2-4 potatoes in a 10-gallon pot, and 4-6 potatoes in a 15-gallon bag.

Grow Bag vs. Plastic Container vs. Greenhouse

Grow bag is made from fabric that makes it breathable, so the air can reach the soil from all sides, whereas, in containers, only the top layer is exposed.

Additionally, you can use grow bags to maintain the temperature required for growing sweet potatoes, but they may not be as durable as the containers.

On the other hand, plastic or clay container tends to be durable, but you must poke drainage holes before using them.

Alternatively, you can use a cold frame to grow sweet potatoes slips before transplanting them to a larger container or garden soil.

A cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure resembling a greenhouse without the heat source and ventilation typical with greenhouses.

However, you must keep it warm by allowing constant sunlight or by covering it with black fiber.

Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors

Keep in mind the climate, location, container, and availability of potato slips before getting started.

Materials Needed

  • Hand trowel
  • Container/Pot
  • Gardening gloves
  • Sweet potato slips
  • Soil pH test kit
  • Heating map
  • Organic compost
  • A bucket of sand
  • 5-feet Clear plastic, black plastic, or silage tarps

Here is the step-by-step guide to sprouting, rooting, and caring for sweet potatoes at home.

Step 1: Start the Slips

Slips are shoots grown from sweet potato that develops into multiple sweet potatoes when planted.

If you have not grown sweet potatoes before, start with acquiring potato slips.

Grow sweet potato slips
Grow sweet potato slips (Source: Pixabay.com)

Grow Your Slips

To start your slips, you need healthy and clean sweet potatoes. Depending on the variety, one sweet potato will produce about 3-5 slips.

  • Carefully wash your sweet potatoes and cut them in half.
  • Place each piece submerged into a glass or jar of water. Ensure only half of the potato is submerged in water
  • Use a toothpick or thin stick to hold it steady.
  • Place them on a window ledge or sill so they can get enough warmth.

You will notice tiny roots appearing on the slips after 3-4 weeks, followed by the leafy growth coming out of the top.

Now, they are ready to be rooted.

Buy a Fresh Batch from the Market

  • Buying a pack of sweet potato slips from garden centers or order them on Amazon.
  • Ensure that each slip is unblemished and measure 1½ inch in diameter with sprouts on them.
  • The store brought slips are already sprouted, so there is no need to start them.
  • For planting slips bought from the gardeners, thoroughly wash each slip with tap water to remove pesticides and insecticides.

Note: Avoid using supermarket-bought sweet potatoes to start slips because they are often sprayed with a “BudNip” chemical that stops slips from sprouting.

Step 2: Root the Slips

You will have to separate the sprouts into the plantable slips.

  • Carefully hold each sprout with your finger and twist it off.
  • Place them in a glass with the bottom half-submerged in water.
  • The roots will start sprouting within few days. After the roots become an inch long, they are ready to be planted.
  • Change the water in the glass every week with fresh water. You can use regular tap water that has more minor or no minerals.
Sweet Potato Sprouts
Sweet Potato Sprouts (Source: Pixabay.com)

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to tell the sprouting end from the root end.

Look for tiny reddish buds to find the root end; otherwise, leave them in a warm place for few days before the reddish buds start emerging.

Step 3: Find a Suitable Container

You can choose from a grow bag or smart pot to start with your slips.

  • The grow bag and smart pot provide excellent conditions for the root plants to proliferate. They are specifically designed to aerate the roots and provide adequate drainage.
  • Alternatively, you can use clay containers or whiskey barrels.
  • Plastic containers do well with growing sweet potatoes, but you must drill drainage holes in the bottom before using them.

Step 4: Prepare the Potting Mix

Prepare a potting mix with loose, well-drained soil is a must.

Loose soil becomes more critical than any other factor when successfully growing sweet potatoes.

  • Use a container mix amended with compost, sand, and a fertilizer high in potash.
  • Determine the container quantity; 10 gallons of container will fit up to 1.4 cubic feet of soil.
  • Mix one part of organic compost into two parts of soil. Use well-aged organic compost such as Blue Ribbon organics or make organic feed at home by yourself.
  • Test the soil for an appropriate acidity level using a DIY soil test pH kit.
  • Neutralize the soil pH by adding ¼ part pulverized calcite limestone or dolomitic limestone.
  • Cover the soil with clear plastic and secure the edges with bricks or wood.
A Healthy Potting Mix
A Healthy Potting Mix (Source: Pixabay)

Let the soil warm naturally up to 80oF. Then, use a soil or compost thermometer to check on the progress.

Step 5: Plant the Slips

The next step is to plant the slips into the potting mix.

  • Fill a 10-gallon container with the potting mix with four inches of soil.
  • Dig small 4-5 holes using the trawler into the soil to fit your slips.
  • Once they sprout, separate them into plantable slips. Throw away the slip that is not producing roots.
  • Place the sweet potato slips on top and layer them with three more inches of soil to secure them. Place 2–3” (5–7 cm) deep into the pot.
  • Position the slip to ensure the bottom half is covered with dirt while the top half (leafy part) is above ground.
  • Do not overcrowd the slips and ensure not to bruise them when planting. Plant each slip at least 10″ apart to encourage large yields.
  • If your grow pot is small, plant only 2-3 sweet potato slips. Otherwise, transplant the slips after few weeks into separate pots.
  • Gently press the dirt around the plant to set it in place and remove any air pockets.

Step 6: Water Your Slips

Sweet potatoes grown in a container needs frequent watering to encourage significant root growth.

  • Give your slip a thorough soaking until all the potting mix is wet. Do not worry about waterlogging because the drainage holes will let out the excess water.
  • New slips require watering every day for the first week and every other day the second week and so on until you are doing it only once a week.
  • Ensure to provide 1-inch of water once a week.
Watering plants
Watering the Plants (Unslpash)

Cut back on watering a month before harvesting. For example, Cut back on watering after two months for a sweet potato maturing in 90 days.

Step 7: Provide Enough Sunlight

As a rule of thumb, sweet potato requires 6-8 hours of sunlight every day.

  • Find an appropriate place in your house that receives sunlight throughout the day, such as windows, patios, or terraces.
  • Ensure the temperature stays above 60℉ (day/night). Anything colder than 50℉ will kill your slips.
  • Place them away from the windows when the temperature drops.
  • Use a heating map if necessary.
  • For those left in the patio or terrace, use black plastic or fabric to cover the container whenever the temperature drops or heavy rainfall is on the radar.

Tips to Grow Healthy Sweet Potato Indoor

  • Choose a fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphate with lesser nitrogen, such as Lilly Miller Morcrop, for your sweet potato slips.
  • Start fertilizing the slips after 4-6 weeks of planting but cut back immediately about a month before being harvested.
  • Water your slips in the morning to let the excess water evaporate from the soil gradually throughout the day.
  • Always use a non-metal container to grow sweet potatoes. Clay pots, grow bags, and smart pots are good choices.
  • Make sure that the soil temperature is at least 80℉ before planting the slips. Warm the soil quickly by placing it in the sun covered with black plastic or fabric.
  • Ensure the day and nighttime temperature does not drop below 60℉.
  • If the current container seems smaller for the growing slips, consider transplanting each slip into a separate container using the same potting mix.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes from Indoor Containers

Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest after 90 days, while some varieties may take longer to mature, even up to 120 days.

The harvest season will depend on the cultivar (variety) you have purchased and the duration of sprouting, generally not more than 140-150 days.

It is time to pick your sweet potatoes when the foliage starts to turn yellow. Once you see this sign, it is better to harvest it without waiting for the maturity days to end.

Harvested sweet potatoes
Harvested sweet potatoes (Source: Pixabay.com)

Dig up the yields using a fork or trowel but do it gently as not to damage them. Even minor damage could lead to spoilage.

Use your hands to pull them out or dump the container upside down to harvest them without damage.

Each slip could produce at least one pound or 3-5 tubers, but it may also depend on the variety.

Quick Tip: If you planted your sweet potatoes a bit late, it is better to harvest them before the onset of the first heavy frost.

Tips to Cure the Sweet Potatoes

Upon harvesting, the yields must be cured before you can consume them.

  • Leave the newly dug sweet potatoes to dry in the sun and air for few hours.
  • Next, store them inside a dry box in a cool place with good air circulation for a couple of weeks.
  • Once cured, you can store your sweet potatoes in a dry cellar or pantry with at least 75 to 80 percent humidity to prevent them from drying.

Sweet potatoes could survive far into the winter if adequate precautions are followed during harvesting and storage. First, brush off any dirt that may have remained on the potatoes once the curing period has ended.

Place them in a cold pantry or closet and pack them in paper cartons or wrap them in the newspaper.

The ideal temperature for keeping the roots fresh is 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 15 degrees Celsius), but don’t store them in the refrigerator for more than a few days because they are vulnerable to cold damage.

Final Words

Sweet potatoes are a high-yielding crop that yields quality every year, whether growing in containers or outdoors.

Growing them indoors will save you a lot of outdoor space while giving you control over the crop at all times.

Start producing your sweet potatoes at home using the growing tips mentioned above!

Related Article: How to Grow Potatoes in Texas

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