Houseplants keep the indoor air clean and offer a beautiful landscape to admire even when it’s too cold to step outside. What’s more? If you have edible indoor plants, you can even harvest some fresh, organic vegetables to enjoy in your daily meals! So, you might be wondering, what can I grow indoors? I’m sure I can’t grow sweet potatoes. WRONG!
Sweet potato is an easy-to-grow, versatile, and productive vegetable to add to your indoor edible garden. Not only does it give large, sweet roots to use in the kitchen, but the foliage is attractive too. Besides, if you want to grow it solely for ornamental purposes, there are specific varieties also.
Whether you’re growing them to bring some flavorsome treats to your kitchen or to uplift the home interior, we have all the guidelines for you. Read this post, and you’ll understand how to grow sweet potatoes indoors.
What Kind Of Plant Sweet Potato Is?
Sweet potato is a warm-weather perennial that’s usually cultivated as an annual for its tuberous roots. They’re not related to regular potatoes, nor are they the same as yams, though the two vegetables are often confused in the US.
How To Cook With Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are a nutritious, flavorful, and staple food in many world regions. The fleshy, sweet roots contain a lot of Vitamin A and C, fibers, and plenty of essential minerals. It makes a great addition to many sweet and savory dishes, including pies, dips, soups, and quiche.
You Can Also Grow Them As An Ornamental
But, if you don’t plan on harvesting the roots, the gorgeous foliage will adorn your home for a couple of years at least! You can grow two types of sweet potatoes: edible varieties and ornamental ones. You can grow them as a trailing vine next to a sunny window or grow a bush variety if you want to keep it compact.
How To Grow Your Sweet Potatoes Indoors?
Both edible and ornamental sweet potatoes can grow well indoors if they have a large pot and get enough sunlight. However, if you’re new to indoor gardening altogether or are nervous about growing sweet potatoes for the first time, there are some essential steps that you can follow. Here’s how to grow sweet potatoes indoors in a pot:
Grow Sweet Potato Vine With A Tuber In Water
- Start with a large sweet potato tuber that hasn’t, preferably, been refrigerated and hasn’t started rotting. Cut it into large pieces without peeling it. Push three toothpicks to the center of the pieces, spacing them evenly around the outer circumference. Place it into a jar of water with the toothpicks resting on the rim and the tuber’s cut side submerged in water.
- Place the jar next to a sunny window and change the water every couple of days, making sure that the cut side is always submerged. It can take a couple of weeks before you see sprouting from the top of the tuber. Many ‘slips’ will sprout from the surface, and you can grow each of them as an individual plant!
- Separate the sprouts by twisting them and place them into separate bowls with the stems submerged in water and leaves over them. The submerged part of the stem will start developing new roots in a couple of days. Once the roots are about an inch (about 2,5 cm) long, you can plant these spouts into potting soil.
How Big The Container Needs To Be To Grow Sweet Potatoes?
If you’re growing them for their edible tubers, you’ll need a big container to plant the slips, preferably 20 gallons (about 76 liters). However, if you’re growing them as ornamentals, you can plant them in small containers or mixed containers, among other houseplants.
Fill the box with potting soil to about an inch (approximately 2,5 cm) from the rim. Dig evenly spaced holes in the dirt deep enough to hold the roots. For example, you can plant six slips in a 20-gallon container (about 76 liters). Place the slips in the holes and cover the roots with soil. Lastly, water the plants.
Place the container at a sunny spot, preferably next to a south-facing window, and check the soil every few days for moisture. Then, water it every time the top 2 inches feel dry.
What Conditions Do Sweet Potatoes Need To Grow Well?
So now you know the basics for planting and caring for sweet potatoes indoors in a pot. But, before getting started, there are some specifics you should know. Please give them the optimal conditions they need to thrive. Here are some care tips:
How Much Sun Do Sweet Potatoes Need?
Sweet potatoes can tolerate partial shade but will perform their best when it’s warm and sunny. They’ll grow quickly when they get to sit next to a sunny window. If you have a sunny balcony, that will also make a lovely home for them.
Many gardeners start the plant indoors when the weather is cold outside and then move it to the outdoors once the last spring frost has passed and the temperatures are warmer. But, before doing this, remember to harden off the plants.
How Much Water Do Sweet Potatoes Need?
Newly planted slips will need regular watering until they have established their roots. Once they are, you may water less frequently. But, do remember to check the plants every other day to see if the topsoil is moist. If it’s still moist, wait another day or two before watering it.
You May Need To Repot Your Sweet Potatoes!
Sweet potatoes may outgrow their pots soon if you give them the optimal conditions! If you see exposed roots on the surface, the chances are that your plants are root-bound. Move them to a bigger container so they can continue growing optimally.
Should You Fertilize Sweet Potatoes?
If you plan on harvesting the tubers, avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers since they’ll promote foliage growth but may, in the worst-case scenario, stunt the growth of tubers. But, if you’re growing it as a decorative plant, it will enjoy a monthly dose of balanced houseplant fertilizer.
What Sweet Potato Types Are Good For Indoor Growing?
You can choose among a variety of types when growing sweet potatoes. The ornamental varieties give attractive foliage to adorn your indoor space, while the edible ones give excellent harvests. Here are some of the most preferred sweet potato varieties to grow as a houseplant:
1. Bayou Belle
This edible variety is resistant to diseases and matures in about 90 to 100 days, producing red-skinned sweet potatoes with deep orange flesh inside. The potatoes taste delicious when served roasted or baked.
2. Bunch Porto Ricos
Perfect for growing in containers, this sweet potato has a bushy growth rather than vining. The copper-skinned potatoes are edible and have red flesh within. You can harvest small potatoes in about 100 days or wait another ten days for full-sized tubers.
3. Sweet Carolina “Purple”
This variety makes the perfect houseplant since it’s compact and grows well in small containers. The growth is slow, so you won’t have to worry about the plant invading your space. Furthermore, the dark purple foliage will add color to your landscape.
Tricolor is an attractive choice, another slow-growing sweet potato with variegated foliage in different green, white, and pink shades.
What Mistakes To Avoid When You’re Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors?
Sweet potato is an easy-going houseplant. There isn’t much that can go wrong when growing sweet potatoes indoors, but here are some things you will need to avoid:
- Avoid soggy conditions when watering your sweet potatoes. While they can tolerate drought, waterlogged soil can cause problems.
- When sprouting the tubers, avoid using heavy water. If your tap water is high in minerals, use distilled water. Heavy water can prevent sprouting.
- If you’re growing it to harvest the tubers, don’t use compact pots, and don’t plant the slips too close. Make sure each plant has plenty of space to expand its roots and grow large tubers.
- If you plan on harvesting the tubers, don’t leave them in the soil for too long. Harvest the tubers while they’re still young for the best texture and flavor.
How To Grow Sweet Potatoes Indoors? – In A Sealed Package
|Temp Required||75 To 95°F (About 23 To 35°C)|
|Type Of Soil||Loamy, Sandy|
|Transplanting Time||4 Weeks After The Last Spring Frost|
|Harvesting Time||90 To 170 Days|
|Light Duration||6 To 8 Hours|
|Watering||Maintain Even Moisture|
|Fertilization||A Balanced Fertilizer Once A Month|
So you now know how to grow sweet potatoes indoors. Starting sweet potato slips indoors isn’t difficult – you can even use the typical sweet potato tubers available at the grocery store’s produce sections to grow new plants. Grow them next to your sunniest window; once the weather is warmer, you can either transplant them into your garden or let them continue thriving as a houseplant.
Featured image credit – © kx59 – stock.adobe.com