Growing Sweet Potato

How to grow Sweet Potato leaves

Sweet potatoes are quite easy to grow. All you need is one sweet potato or a few to start with.

The sweet potato plant can also be eaten 2 ways.

Firstly you can eat the sweet potato tuba. Secondly, you can eat sweet potato leaves (IMPORTANT: Do NOT eat regular potato leaves). Potato (and tomato) leaves and stems are poisonous, but sweet potato leaves are safe! They are delicious stir-fried with belachan or some chopped garlic.

Just note that some commercially grown sweet potatoes sold in stores might have been chemically treated to prevent regrowing. Sometimes this notice is printed on the packaging which I have seen on a pack of Australian grown sweet potatoes sold in my local Fairprice supermarket.

The​ sweet potatoes I used for regrowing are Japanese purple sweet potatoes organically grown by Zenxin Organic Farm. These can be bought in Cold Storage or Giant supermarkets in Singapore and Malaysia.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes

I tried growing with ​3 sweet potatoes, cutting some into 2 pieces and trying different propagation methods using water and soil.

At first I put all 3 into water.

Growing sweet potatoes in water

22 Sep 2016: I tried growing these 3 sweet potatoes in water.

Nothing happened to 2 of the sweet potatoes even after 2 weeks, but the long one on the right started growing new roots after a few days! Let's call this "Sweet Potato 1".

Growing Sweet Potato 1​

Sweet potato in water

26 Sep 2016, Day 4: This sweet potato was placed in a small bottle with about 2 cm (1 inch) in water. You can see the new white roots that grew.

On 28 Sep (Day 6), I took this sweet potato out of the bottle, cut it into 2 pieces and half buried each piece in soil in a container made from a $5.90 IKEA  box.

On the left side:

Growing sweet potato

Top section of the sweet potato that was not in water and had no roots.

On the right side:

Transplanting rooted sweet potato into soil

Bottom section of the sweet potato that was in water and had roots.

Sweet potato half buried in soil

14 Oct 2016, Day 18: After 16 days in soil, some shoots have started to grow. 

Notice the 2 shoots in the middle? They are "stem cuttings" that I plucked from the piece of sweet potato in front and transplanted. Curious to see if they die or continue to grow!

I water these twice a day but do not use much water each time. About 15 to 20 sprays each from a $2 spray bottle​ bought at the gardening section in Daiso.

Sweet potato shoots start continue to grow

16 Oct 2016, Day 18

Sweet potato sprouting stems and leaves

16 Oct 2016, Day 18: This is the section of the sweet potato that had no roots when it was first placed in soil. It now has 3 shoots sprouting!

How to grow Sweet Potato leaves

21 Oct 2016, Day 25: This half piece of sweet potato is growing many more stems and leaves.

Sweet Potatoes growing

27 Oct 2016: Both halves of the sweet potato are growing well and the 2 little "stem cuttings" are still alive, but growing much more slowly compared to the stems attached to the sweet potato halves. (Those are spring onions at the back)

2 Sweet potato plants growing fast

29 Oct 2016: The sweet potato plants are continuing to grow very fast! The stem from the right plant is starting to twine like a vine around the left plant.

Next let's take a look at the next sweet potato - Sweet Potato 2.

Growing Sweet Potato 2

If you look at the picture near the top of this post with the 3 sweet potatoes in water, Sweet Potato 2 is the smallest one on the top-left.

Half a sweet potato completely covered in soil

27 Sep 2016: Planted Sweet Potato 2  in this takeaway box. It's completely covered by the soil.

Sweet Potato planted in soil

Covered the box with a small plastic bag to keep the moisture in by preventing evaporation. This also helped to minimize the need to water everyday.

Day 8:

Sweet potato propagation in soil

5 Oct 2016: After 8 days, I noticed a little bulge pushing the plastic bag up!

Sweet potato shoot starts to grow

5 Oct 2016, Day 8: I removed the bag and saw this sweet potato shoot that had grown in 8 days.

sweet potato shoot on day 8

5 Oct 2016: Here's a closer look at the 8 day old sweet potato shoot.

Day 11:

Small sweet potato leaves on day 11

8 Oct 2016: By Day 11, the sweet potato leaves have grown a little.

Day 19

Sweet potato plant after 19 days

16 Oct 2016, Day 19: After another 8 days, look at how tall the sweet potato stem has grown!

20cm tall sweet potato stem

16 Oct 2016, Day 19 evening: After almost 20 days, this sweet potato stem is 20cm tall!

Day 27

How to grow sweet potatos

24 Oct 2016, Day 27: Today I will pluck this 20+ cm tall stem off to transplant.

How to grow sweet potato from stems

Day 27, Step 1: I removed the sweet potato from the soil. This is the base of the stem that I am about to pull off from the tuba.

Sweet Potato stem

Step 2: Hold the base of the stem. Firmly but gently pull the stem off the sweet potato with a twisting and pulling action.

Preparing the sweet potato stem for planting

Step 3: Pinch off the leaves from the stem. Leave 2-3 leaves at the top. Notice the little notches or growths along the stem? These should each grow new roots and sweet potatoes when buried in soil.

Sweet potato stem ready for propagation

The sweet potato stem is ready to be planted!

Preparing soil for planting sweet potato stem

Step 4: Prepare a shallow trough to place the sweet potato stem in.

Sweet potato stem planted in soil

Step 5: Place the prepared stem into the trough and cover with soil. Leave the top with leaves exposed. Water as usual and let it grow....

Growing Sweet Potato 3

Sweet Potato 3 is the one in the middle of this picture.

Growing sweet potatoes in water

Sweet Potatoes on 22 Sep 2016

I cut a satay (kebab) stick into 3 pieces and used them to set the sweet potato up in a recycled cotton bud container. Unfortunately, after more than 2 weeks, there was absolutely no sign of growing roots or shoots 🙁

The only thing that was growing was what looked liked white fungus ​on the bottom that was soaked in water.

I decided to remove it from the container, took out the satay sticks and left the sweet potato alone.

After about a week, I decided to try growing it again.

First I washed the sweet potato, then​ I placed it lying horizontally in a plastic takeaway box with water that was approximately half a centimetre high. This time it started to grow lots of roots after several days!

Forgot to take pictures of it :p but the process described from the picture above to the picture below took 32 days.

Day 1 of transplanting the rooted sweet potato:

Transplanting rooted sweet potato

24 Oct 2016: Transplanting this rooted sweet potato into a planter in the balcony.

Day 5 after transplanting:

How to grow sweet potato leaves
How to grow sweet potato
How to grow sweet potatoes

29 Oct 2016: The rooted sweet potato has grown several shoots just 5 days after being transplanted.

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