Sweet potatoes are generally considered to be one of those sprawling, allotment or garden vegetables that need a lot of space to grow in. But did you know that you can grow them in pots or containers, indoors? Read on to find out more of this fascinating growing process, and how it can actually be easier, and in some cases more rewarding, than growing them in a garden!
What You'll Learn Today
How To Grow Sweet Potatoes Indoors
1. Get Some Slips
The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t grown sweet potatoes before, is to get your hands on some slips. These are the sprouted part of the sweet potato that the rest of the plant grows from. These are available from large garden centres, or you can order them from garden centres online.
You can grow your own slips, if you buy a sweet potato that hasn’t been treated to prevent it from sprouting, as most supermarket varieties will have been.
- Take a large jam jar and fill it with water, then place the sweet potato into it so that the bottom half is covered by water
- After 3-4 weeks you should notice little roots appear, then the leafy slips will grow out of the top
- Carefully remove these slips and plant them.
2. Plant The Slips
Fill a 5 gallon (20-25L) bucket with good quality potting soil, and dig small holes to fit your slips into (you can plant several in one buckets, especially when they are small and developing). Just take care not to crowd them too much while they are developing.
3. Water Daily
Water the soil daily, and keep the temperature warm and stable – sweet potatoes like warmth, and will respond better to warm soil than cold. A warm soil is more important than a warm outside temperature to these guys, so you can warm up the soil before you plant them and then keep them at room temperature.
4. Give Them Sunlight
Give them as much sunlight as possible, and make sure they stay above 50 degrees F – any colder and they will not survive. As long as they keep warm, sunlight is not not the most important thing – but keep them in the lightest area of your house for the best results.
5. Transplant Them Into Pots
When the slips start to grow bigger and look as though they are getting crowded, you should transplant them into individual pots or containers, so that they can have a bit more space to spread out their roots.
Your sweet potatoes should be ready to harvest in about 100 days. Keep an eye on the foliage, as this is a good indicator of their ripeness. When the potatoes are ready, the leaves will yellow and die back
Best Sized Containers For Sweet Potatoes
Remember that sweet potatoes grow fairly big, and their tubers will be spread out through the soil. They don’t go down too deep, but they do spread out to the sides, so a wider container is more important than a deep one. 4-5 gallons is a bare minimum for sweet potato plants.
Large bags are also a great bet for growing sweet potatoes. Not a supermarket carrier bag; think Ikea bag sized, or use an old builder’s bag (cleaned, of course!) As long as your sweet potatoes have space to spread out, they should reward you with a great crop.
Benefits Of Growing Sweet Potatoes In Containers Indoors
Growing sweet potatoes in containers indoors actually has advantages over panting them outdoors in a garden or allotment:
- You can keep them warm. Sweet potatoes like to be kept warm, so growing them indoors means that you can maintain the temperature and prevent them suffering from changing temperatures outside.
- It’s easy to keep an eye on them. You can make sure that your plants aren’t succumbing to any pests or diseases if they are right there in your house, and if they do become infested by anything you have a chance to get on top of it quickly.
- They won’t take over your garden. Sweet potatoes are voracious growers, and can easily cover an allotment with their foliage and choke other plants and prevent the sunlight getting to them.
- The crop is more contained. If your sweet potatoes are grown in containers or bags, you won’t accidentally miss a stray potato and have it grow wild in the plot the following year – you can be sure that you have harvested every last one.
Harvesting Sweet Potatoes From Indoor Containers
When it is time to harvest your crop, you should probably move your containers outside, as digging through the soil can create a fair bit of spillage which can get ground into your carpets!
If you can’t manoeuvre the heavy containers outside, the place some newspaper around the containers to catch the displaced soil.
- If you are harvesting outside, you can simply tip the containers up and pick the sweet potatoes out from underneath.
- If you are doing it inside, then you need to carefully dig them out, the same way you would if you were harvesting from an allotment or garden plot, and dispose of the soil afterwards.
Once you have harvested them, you will need to wash off the dirt, and leave them out for a couple of weeks in a cool, dark place to allow them to “cure” so that they offer the best taste experience, and will keep well, when you get around to using them.
Sweet potatoes are a really lovely crop, and one which is surprisingly easy to grow. You may have been put off from growing them because you only have a small garden, or no garden at all – but don’t let this stop you!
As long as you have a little space in your house which gets sunlight and warmth, and you have a few large containers, you can grow sweet potatoes.
And, now that you know about growing sweet potatoes in containers indoors, you can produce your own crop of delicious, healthy tubers!