Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors [The Complete Guide]

Growing Sweet Potatoes IndoorsHave you thought about growing sweet potatoes indoors? I really like sweet potatoes but they can be expensive to buy so I did some research to find out how to grow sweet potatoes indoors.

Table of Contents

Growing Sweet Potatoes IndoorsHave you thought about growing sweet potatoes indoors? I really like sweet potatoes but they can be expensive to buy so I did some research to find out how to grow sweet potatoes indoors.

What Are Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are roots while regular potatoes are tubers. They are not even related.

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are in the Morning Glory family while potatoes are in the nightshade family.

They are sometimes wrongly called yams which is a totally different plant. Yams are in the Dioscorea genus related to lilies and grasses.

Sweet potatoes are a tropical plant that requires warm soil and a long growing season of at least 90 days.

Growing sweet potatoes outdoors in most northern climates is difficult at best.

I live in Western Washington where we have a cool maritime climate so this just isn’t possible which is why I have never grown them.

Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors

But the good news is growing sweet potatoes indoors is entirely possible and they are actually easy to grow.

They grow as a leafy sprawling vine and in warmer climates, they can almost be invasive.

So indoors you can grow sweet potatoes in grow bags. Some people use a trellis for the vines too.

Incidentally, the leaves of the sweet potato vine are edible too. They are often added to salads or steamed like spinach.

Are Sweet Potatoes Safe For Pets?

Since we will be growing our sweet potatoes indoors we want to know if they are safe for our pets.

Some say sweet potatoes are considered toxic for dogs and cats but cooked sweet potatoes can be fed safely.

According to the ASPCA, they are safe and nontoxic. Sweet Potato Vine | ASPCA

Sweet Potato Slips

Sweet potatoes are started from slips. These are vine parts that are ready to root or may already have roots on them.

There are a few ways to get sweet potato slips. You can buy them at a garden center or online. They even sell them on Amazon here.

There are quite a few different types of sweet potato plants. Some are white, yellow, orange, and even purple.

Georgia Jet is considered one of the best for northern climates and Beauregard is the leading commercial variety and also does well.

But since we will be growing sweet potatoes inside we can experiment with some different varieties.

Growing Your Own Sweet Potato Slips

You can use a sweet potato from the store for this. Some sweet potatoes are treated with a sprout inhibitor but they will eventually sprout. An organic sweet potato will be easier.

Growing Your Own Sweet Potato Slips In WaterIf you were a kid in school you may remember a science project with a sweet potato growing in a jar of water.

Even if you haven’t seen this you can use this method to grow your own slips.

When sprouts are about 6 inches long break them off the mother plant. Set them in a jar until they start to grow roots. 

Sweet potatoes root really easy so don’t be afraid to break off the slips from the mom.

At this point, you can pot them up with a soil mix or coco coir, my favorite. Once they get a bit larger put them in their final pot.

Growing Sweet Potato Slips In Soil

You can lay a sweet potato on its side and partially bury it in soil. This method will produce more slips than the water method.

A single sweet potato can produce 20-30 slips for you which is more than enough.

Growing Sweet Potato Slips In Soil

This is the method I am using. You want to keep it in a warm place to hasten sprouting and keep the soil moist but not wet.

I was going to buy slips online but most vendors on Amazon wanted too much for their plants.

And eBay was much better price-wise but could not ship to Washington so I will start from scratch. 

Sweet Potato Grow Bags

Sweet potatoes can be grown in sweet potato grow bags. They are readily available on Amazon as potato grow bags here.

They are generally larger and taller than standard grow bags and they have a flap you can open to see what’s happening inside the pot.

Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors

How Do You Grow Sweet Potatoes In A Potato Bag?

I did quite a bit of research on how to plant sweet potatoes in a grow bag. Most folks just plant them straight up in a large fabric pot.

I don’t think that is the best way to plant them. The image below shows a much better way.

Sweet potatoes are roots that grow where the vine touches the ground.

So the more stem in contact with soil the more sweet potatoes you will have.

So planting lower down in a pot and filling it as the plant grows taller makes perfect sense to me.

How to grow sweet potatoes in potato bags

Growing Sweet Potatoes In Containers Indoors

I really like the idea of growing sweet potatoes in grow bags but growing sweet potatoes in containers indoors is another option.

Grow bags are a bit easier to manage because they allow for easy drainage and allow more access to oxygen for the roots.

But buckets should work really well too. So if you have a bunch already you might give them a try instead of potato grow bags.

I am considering using 5-gallon buckets and planting this way. I may even train the vines into a second pot as the plant grows.

If you decide to use buckets make sure to drill some holes for drainage and put them in a saucer to catch any runoff.

Indoor Sweet Potatoes

Here is a video from a northern grower. He grows sweet potatoes indoors in a grow tent.

This is a good idea if you have trouble keeping your sweet potatoes warm. He is in a garage.

Best Soil For Sweet Potatoes In Containers

Sweet potatoes need warm soil to grow best after all they are tropical plants.

If your floor is not 75 degrees or more you might want to consider putting your plants on a heating mat like these.

They say sweet potatoes like a light sandy soil but I tend to ignore that kind of advice.

I just want a well-draining soil mix that doesn’t compact easily, especially for root crops.

You can use a regular potting mix to grow sweet potatoes. But my preference is to use coco coir.

I like Canna Coco it is available loose but the bricks don’t seem to be available lately. Just make sure it is pre-buffered. Here is a good one.

Coconut coir is from the husk of coconuts. It is a renewable product and is an excellent substitute for peat moss.

Roots absolutely love growing in coco coir too.

I do not use peat moss. They deplete our wetlands to harvest it. It can take 1000s of years for peat bogs to form. So please choose coco.

How Much Sun Do Sweet Potatoes Need?

Sweet potato plants require full sun and a warm climate to grow well. While they will tolerate some shade they are sun-loving plants.

To grow sweet potatoes indoors you will need supplemental lighting. Full-spectrum LED grow lights will be the best choice.

They are very close to natural sunlight and much easier on your electric bill than HID lighting.

I will be using my Spider Farmer SF 2000 over my sweet potato plants.

It is affordable and can cover a 2 x4 square foot area easily. Check it out here.

Here is a review I wrote about this LED grow light: Spider Farmer SF2000 Unboxing And Review (indoorvegetablegrower.com)

Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors In 5 Gallon Buckets

I am going to grow my sweet potatoes in a 5-gallon bucket. I planted it near the bottom and will fill in around the vines as they grow.

Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors In 5 Gallon Buckets

It took a couple of months for my sweet potato to grow shoots. It was from the grocery store, so it was probably treated with a sprout inhibitor.

I did not buy starts because they were sold in lots of 25 and I only needed one. So I decided to plant my sweet potato whole.

Sweet Potato 5 Gallon Bucket Grow Update

Sweet Potato 5 Gallon Bucket Grow Update

My sweet potato plant is being grown in a 5 gallon bucket of coco coir.

As the vines grow I fill in around them with coco. Eventually, the bucket will be full.

I plan on training the vines vertically up my trellis frame and then back down again.

Vines can grow 8 feet or longer so at some point I will bring them back down again.

Everywhere the vine can root new sweet potatoes can grow. So once the vines reach back to the bucket I will bury a node on the top of it.

I can repeat this process as the vines continue to grow.

Indoor Sweet Potato Update Video

Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors In 5 Gallon Buckets

Here is a video update on growing sweet potatoes indoors in 5-gallon buckets.

The vines are starting to grow now and one vine is already climbing my trellis.

I have a second vine about to do the same. Meanwhile, I have been gradually filling the bucket up with more coco coir.

Growing Sweet Potatoes Vertically

Growing Sweet Potatoes VerticallySweet potatoes produce a lot of long vines that want to crawl along the ground.

Where the vine makes good contact with the soil the vines will grow roots and produce more sweet potatoes.

You can prune your unruly vines and the leaves are edible. But many people prefer to grow sweet potatoes vertically.

They can be trained up a string or into an upright wire trellis. I see this done to save space indoors or in the vegetable garden.

But people who enjoy eating the leaves also use a vertical sweet potato trellis to keep the soil off the leaves and keep them clean.

The only downside I can see to this is the vines don’t get a chance to root and make more sweet potatoes.

However, keeping the vines healthy will help feed the sweet potatoes you have in your container.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

When the leaves on your sweet potato vine start to turn yellow it is a sign of harvest time.

It will take at least 90 days for this to happen. Some strains take another month to ripen.

If you started your slips with a store-bought sweet potato you won’t know the variety or its maturity though.

Carefully dig up your sweet potato roots. They can be brittle at first so dig them slowly and carefully.

Sweet potatoes need to cure in the open air for several days and they will become tougher skinned over time.

They also taste better if they are stored for a couple of months if you can wait that long.

Of course, you can eat them right away but don’t judge their true flavor until they have aged.

Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors FAQ

Here are some FAQs about growing sweet potatoes indoors with some answers too. Remember there are no dumb questions only dumb answers.

What size grow bag should I use for sweet potatoes?

Generally, people will use 5-10 gallon grow bags for sweet potatoes. You want to use a  tall container for best results.

How do you grow sweet potatoes in a potato bag?

You would put your slips in the bottom of the bag and add soil around them as they grow.

Do sweet potatoes grow well in containers?

Yes, they do. I am growing mine in 5-gallon buckets but you can also use potato grow bags for sweet potatoes too.

What is the best container to grow sweet potatoes?

There is no best container but a large container with a loose potting mix is best. I would also use taller containers.

Can you grow sweet potatoes in buckets?

Yes, you can as long as they are at least 5 gallons.

How deep should a container be for sweet potatoes?

It should be at least 12 inches deep to work best.

How many sweet potatoes do you get from one plant?

One sweet potato can make 20 – 30 slips. A single plant can produce 50 pounds of sweet potatoes under ideal conditions.

How much sun do sweet potatoes need?

Sweet potatoes do best with full sun although they can tolerate some shade.

Can I eat sweet potato leaves?

Yes, you can. Sweet potatoes leaves are used in salads and also used as a steamed vegetable like spinach.

What kind of soil do sweet potatoes like?

Sweet potatoes prefer warm and light sandy soil that is well-drained. They do not like heavy clay or cold wet soils.

What is the best way to grow sweet potatoes?

If you live in a warm area with a long growing season they will do best outdoors.

But sweet potatoes can be grown indoors with containers using supplemental lighting.

How do you start sweet potato slips?

You can start sweet potato slips from a store-bought sweet potato and putting one end in a jar of water or by laying them down and partly covering them with soil.

Can you grow sweet potatoes in the winter?

You can grow sweet potatoes indoors in containers during the winter. Keep them warm and provide supplemental lighting.

How do you know when sweet potatoes are ready to harvest?

The leaves on the vine will start to turn yellow. You will need to dig them carefully and expose them to air to cure.

How long does sweet potato take to grow?

Early varieties will take at least 90 days to mature but some may take as much as 120 days to mature.

How many sweet potato slips can you plant in a 5 gallon bucket?

I would only plant 1 slip in a 5-gallon bucket but some people put 3 or 4 in a 10-gallon pot.

Should I trim my sweet potato vines?

You can trim your sweet potato vines if they get too long. The leaves are edible too.

Do sweet potato vines climb?

Sweet potato vines don’t really climb. They prefer to crawl along the ground. But they can be trained to use a vertical trellis.

Final Thoughts On Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors

Sweet potatoes are a great crop to grow indoors. I really like sweet potatoes but they are often seasonal and their quality varies.

They are often expensive so I want to grow my own. Not only are the sweet potato roots edible but the leaves are also edible.

The vines also make an attractive houseplant and sweet potatoes are easy to start either from store-bought slips or those that you raise yourself.

Most of us don’t really have a good outdoor climate that will allow us to grow sweet potatoes outdoors.

But growing sweet potatoes indoors can provide us with them year-round and they are not really that hard to grow.

So why not give growing sweet potatoes indoors a try? 

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Sweet potato – Wikipedia