Indoor plants are a great way to produce without having to deal with bad weather conditions. It’s a great way to capture the green foliage inside, where you may spend a lot of time, especially during cold winter months. Although this may not be something you have thought about before, have you considered growing a sweet potato vine indoors?
Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) is a good choice if you want a vine that grows quickly and vigorously, and can be used for trailing in pots or beds. Tropical sweet potato vines do best in humid, fertile soil. This plant can grow in various types of soil and climates. The best part about sweet potato vines is that they produce large, exotic leaves in a variety of colors, from neon green to black to pink or purple.
Different varieties of sweet potatoes have different leaf shapes and colors. You could grow multiple types of sweet potatoes in your home to add variety. But a sweet potato vine needs care and space. What are some of the best ways for growing plants indoors?
If you’re looking to grow either sweet potato vines that produce sweet potatoes or ornamental vines solely for their appearance, there are plenty of ways to work them into your indoor container garden.
A sweet potato vine isn’t hard to get started. Each of the available varieties root easily. But they may not survive the harsh cold winter. So let’s go over what you need to do to grow sweet potatoes indoors, and you’ll be able to produce tubers even during the harsh winter months.
Propagating Sweet Potato Vine
To grow sweet potato vines, you have several options. One option for planting flowers is to buy nursery plants in the spring and plant them outdoors after the last frost.
You can also plant sweet potato vine from seed. Fill a seed-starting tray with a light, soil-less starting mix. Sprinkle the seeds over the tray, making sure there is about 3 inches of space between each seed. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of starting mix. Spray the mixture with water from a spray bottle and cover the tray with plastic wrap. Place the tray in a warm area and water it when necessary to keep the soil moist. Wait for the seedlings to emerge before taking the plastic wrap off the tray. Move the tray to a sunny window or place it under grow lights. Transplant the seedlings when they stand 4 inches high. Note: the seeds are highly toxic.
Sweet potato plants grow underground roots that are in the shape of a potato. You can use these roots to propagate more plants. Lift the plant from the ground, taking care to loosen the roots from the soil. After brushing any soil off the roots, place them in a warm and dry location for two weeks. The process of removing moisture from the roots and drying the skin slightly. After 2 weeks, the roots should be stored in straw or sawdust in a cool, dark location, such as a basement closet, over the winter. After the last expected frost in the spring, plant the roots outside. Keep the soil moist. New plants will emerge from the tuber. Cut the plants when they are 4 inches high and plant them in moist, rich soil. They will grow roots and start to grow. Leave the tuber to grow more plants.
Sweet potato vines can be propagated through cuttings. Cut off a few pieces of the plant in the fall when it is healthy. The pieces should be at least 4 inches long. The bottom leaves of the plant should be removed and the cuttings placed in water. Put the cuttings in a room that gets a lot of sunlight, but keep them away from windows where it might be cold, because that will kill them. Change the water once per week. Transplant the cuttings outdoors in the spring.
Growing Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet potato vine is a low-maintenance, vigorous plant that thrives in warm, moist conditions. The most common challenge with this plant is controlling its growth. This plant grows best in containers, where it can spill over the sides. It makes a beautiful trailing plant, but it can overtake other plants growing in the container. You should cut back the sweet potato vine when it starts to get too big. To grow sweet potato vine, mix compost or manure into the soil to improve drainage. Plant the vines one foot apart from each other in an area that gets full sun or partial shade. If growth slows and the leaves appear pale in color, additional fertilizer will probably not be needed for sweet potato vines. Then offer an all-purpose fertilizer, according to package directions.
The sweet potato vine is not very often attacked by insects or disease, although it can get rust and wilt. Be sure that the soil allows water to drain through it easily and do not get the leaves wet. Remove any diseased portions and discard.
‘Margarita’ has chartreuse-green leaves that appear paler in shade. This plant grows to a height of 6-12 inches and can spread up to 3 feet. The sweet potato vine known as Margarita is more tolerant of heat than most other varieties, but it does require a consistent supply of moisture.
This plant, called “Blackie”, has large leaves in the shape of a heart, and comes in various shades of purple, black, and almost black. ‘Blackie’ will do best if it’s kept in full sun and given moist soil.
‘Pink Frost’ is an extraordinary plant. The leaves are a mix of white and green, with pink edges. This plant grows especially quickly, spreading up to 6 feet in a single season. It tolerates partial shade.
Caring For Indoor Sweet Potatoes
What are the specific needs of your indoor sweet potato vines for each of the growing methods? Let’s go over them one by one. Sweet potatoes are fun to grow, and they will thrive if they have what they need.
Lighting & Temperature
They are a bit more tolerant of cold than sweet potatoes, but they will still need to be wrapped or brought inside if temps dip below 50 degrees F. Although sweet potato vines can withstand cold weather better than sweet potatoes, they should be wrapped in brought indoors if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. To help your sweet potato vine flourish, give it as much sun as possible. This means that sweet potato vines can still grow even if they don’t get full sun. If you grow sweet potato vines in a shady spot, the foliage will be dull. If necessary, supplement with a grow light. When growing sweet potatoes, give the container a quarter-turn daily. This provides your sweet potato leaves with the light they need to appear bright, and gives the roots the strength they need to survive.
If you are using grow lights, make sure they are high intensity and have at least three fluorescent bulbs. If possible, put the light so it is a few inches above the tallest plants. If your grow light isn’t producing enough heat for growth, change the settings or extend the amount of time it’s on. The same goes for a grow tent. Brighten the lights as needed so that they are sufficiently bright.
Sweet potato vines need a warm climate to grow well, so it is best to grow them indoors. They will only grow well if the temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is common for most homes. A warm 75 degrees is the most optimal temperature. If your power goes out during a winter frost or hot summer, find a way to shelter your plant. If the temperature is either too hot or too cold, it can damage the leaves. Most air conditioners in homes also make the air very dry, which causes the soil to dry out quickly.
Water & Humidity
Water is essential for healthy sweet potato plants, but they are not fussy about soil and can even be grown without it, in a container of water. It is important for gardeners to water sweet potato vines at least once a week, especially in the first 30 or 40 days after planting. In containers, they’ll need more. Soil should remain moist, but not wet throughout growth. Don’t let the soil dry out if you’re growing for food.
If they are dry, add water. If the leaves of the plant are wilted, add water. If you have grow lights in your setup, they can make the area hotter and cause water to evaporate more quickly.
Humidity isn’t a huge concern for sweet potato vine. A moderate size for your grow room is just perfect. There is no need to include a water pan to increase the humidity in your growing space, and you won’t need to adjust the humidity as often as you’ll need to adjust the light.
This plant can grow in poor soil, but it will be healthier if you fertilize it, especially if you want it to live longer. You should start with a good, fertile soil base, then add a well-balanced full spectrum slow-release fertilizer at the beginning. Every few weeks during the growing process, you should fertilize with a high phosphorous mix. Some good options for amendments are bone meal, sea kelp, and green sand. Dry fertilizers are a good option for indoor situations. It keeps the mess away!
If you don’t trim sweet potato vines, they will become long and thin. To make them fuller or keep them within a certain area, cut them back. After your plants have grown to be 3-4 inches tall, you can cut off the new growth and plant it elsewhere. This strategy allows you to both control the size of your plant population and create new plants in the process. You can plant your cutting directly in moist soil, or you can put it in water to allow it to root.
Regular pruning is necessary because this plant has a lot of vines. This goes for an indoor and outdoor garden. If you want your plant to grow into a mound, cut off a few pairs of leaves. This will encourage the vine to split. Pruning promotes stronger development of stems and tuberous roots. This goes for plants that are trellised too. Overall, prune and eat the green leaves as needed.
You can sprout your sweet potato vine by placing it in a container of water or by planting it in moist potting soil. To grow potatoes, you can either plant potato slips or grow them from a whole potato. To grow slips from an organic sweet potato, store it in a box with sand or peat moss over winter. To propagate sweet potatoes, cut the sprouts from the tuber in spring or summer and plant them in your indoor garden. Once the leaves and stem have grown to four inches tall, you can treat them as you would a mature vine.
Sweet potatoes are spring and summer-loving plants. They will die if they get too cold. Too warm, and they’ll scorch. If you see brown leaves, it may be a sign that the temperature is incorrect. Remove damaged foliage and adjust the temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is sweet potato a creeper or a climber?
If you want your ornamental sweet potato vines to climb, plant them on a trellis spaced two feet apart. They tend to trail, which can look nice in hanging baskets, window boxes, or at the edges of large containers. In garden beds, they function as a groundcover.
Is sweet potato vine drought tolerant?
The sweet potato vine does best when it gets a lot of water, but once it is established, it can survive periods of drought because it stores water in its roots. Be sure to water your plants generously, especially within the first 30 to 40 days after planting. They will need at least one inch of water per week.
What is the difference between potatoes from an edible sweet potato vine and an ornamental sweet potato vine?
The difference between the two types of potatoes is the flavor of the potatoes. The difference in the foliage is how attractive the leaves are. Short versions of sweet potatoes that are edible have been bred to create large harvests of the sweet potatoes we enjoy eating. This text is saying that ornamental sweet potato vines have been bred to produce pretty leaves, and not for the quality of their tubers. Ornamental varieties of potatoes typically have a bitter or flavorless taste, and may be smaller in size than those that are edible. Despite being an ornamental plant, the sweet potato vine can be dug up and eaten. However, it will probably need a lot of seasoning to make it taste good.