How to Root a Sweet Potato for Planting

1 Mar

…and teach little ones about plants and roots!


What you need:

1 sweet potato (a regular russet potato will work too!)
A glass of water

For rooting, you are better off buying organic since some potatoes are treated with a growth retardant in order to stop them from rooting or growing “eyes” while they are sitting in the grocery store. This increases their shelf life and, in my opinion, is another reason to buy organic… I don’t want to eat growth retardants.

What to do:

First, stick 3-4 toothpicks around the center of the sweet potato:

Place it in the glass. the toothpicks should rest of the end of the glass holding the sweet potato up so it is not touching the bottom of the glass:

Fill your glass up with water so about 1/3 to 1/4 of the sweet potato is submerged in the water:

Anywhere from a few days to a week or two you should start to see roots sprout from the submerged part of the sweet potato:

After a while longer, you should see stems (and if you leave it long enough, leaves) sprout out of the top of your sweet potato until you have something that looks like this:

Keep it in a warm sunny window and keep adding water as needed.

If you would like to grow your sweet potato for the vines alone,once you have a good amount of white roots established, you can leave it in a container of water or plant your potato in some soil. Sweet potatoes do well in all types of soil. Make sure the whole potato and all the roots are underneath the soil. If you are planting in a pot, make sure you the soil can drain well, otherwise your sweet potato may rot.

Water and provide sunlight as usual.

If you would like to plant sweet potatoes for, well, more sweet potatoes, break off the little branches that grew out of the top of the sweet potato at the base (these are called slips) and plant them into the soil. Sweet potatoes need a good long, warm growing season so start your sprouts in the winter time and plant them in the spring once the danger of frost has past.

Once the green plant part of your sweet potato dies back (usually around the time the first frost will return) you can harvest your sweet potatoes which, if all went well, should have multiplied!

Now go sprout some tubers!

Happy Planting! ;)


About these ads

39 Responses to “How to Root a Sweet Potato for Planting”

  1. vanessa March 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    im doing this right now

  2. sydney73588 March 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Make sure the potato is really organic. Find one at your local Farmers Market or vegetable stand. There is a real difference in the growth rate.

    • Debbie June 4, 2013 at 2:38 am #

      I bought two at the grocery store and they are going crazy, got beautiful green vines everywhere, at $5.00 for a small pot of them this is much cheaper

      • Lemons June 8, 2013 at 6:33 am #

        That is great! Glad to eat it is working well for you! I just planted a bunch of slips that sprouted from the farmers market sweet potato I rooted ;)

  3. sydney73588 March 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Make sure the potato is organic. Get one at your local Farmers Market or fruit/vegetable stand where your know the quality. The difference in the pant growth is phenomenal.

  4. Anne Huber May 12, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I would like to print out these instructions, Please.

  5. Virginia Allain June 12, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    I’ve had good success just cutting off a portion of the sweet potato. Look for an end or spot where it is starting to sprout in your pantry. Cut off about a golf ball size portion containing the sprouts. Put it directly into the soil and water every few days. It will root there and make a very nice vine.

    • Lemons June 22, 2012 at 6:28 am #

      That is so great to do when the weather has warmed up already! I usually root them indoors when it is still pretty cold outside so they can get a head start. Thank you for sharing! :)

    • Carol Horn July 7, 2012 at 1:15 am #

      I tried this twice. The stems grew but the leaves were itty bitty? What went wrong?

      • Lemons July 7, 2012 at 5:47 am #

        Are they getting enough sunlight? Once the stems sprout up you can cut them off and plant them but make sure you give them plenty of water. Sometimes I cut the slips (the stems) off and place them in water to root them a little before I plant them. My guess is that your sweet potato leaves aren’t growing because they lack something- either sunlight or some kind of nutrients to help them grow. If they are getting plenty of sunlight and still just in water try adding a little plant food to the water or plant them in soil. Also make sure the plant is warm enough. If it is a little chilly or you have an AC running nearby it may hold back growth. Hope that helps!

  6. pixilated2 July 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    This explains why something so easy as growing a sweet potato WAS easy when I was a child in the 60′s and now it has become impossible to do as an adult! That dang treated potato will sit in the water and do nothing! Well, OK, it does ROT, but nothing else happens. THANK YOU!!!

    • bev January 29, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      I it because they spray everything now with that awful “bud nip” to stop the potatoes from sprouting in the store….preserver mine took three months to sprout from the supermarket….organic took one month.

  7. Tawny August 4, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    hi…question. my girlfriend gave me some clippings of the greens of her sweet potato plant. i put them in water and waited until they had a good root and then planted them in soil. do you think i will be sucessful growing a sweet potato that way without the slip??

    • Lemons August 4, 2012 at 6:40 am #

      As long as you have a good root establishment, it should work. It may just take a little longer. Depending on where you live, It may be a little late to plant them and get an actually sweet potato as they need a long growing season. At the least, you can get a nice green potato plant for now and, depending on how harsh your winters are, maybe you will get a sweet potato by next season if the plantt doesn’t completely die off in the winter. Hope that helps! :)

  8. Monja Smith December 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    I’d recommend submerging the sweet potato in a dark container with water. Roots don’t like daylight and I am certain that results would happen a lot quicker if the roots got to grow in the dark.

    • Lemons December 25, 2012 at 7:06 am #

      Thanks for the tip! That does make a lot of sense ;)

  9. Rachael January 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    I tried this recently and left the potatoe in my window for 3 wks. It never sprouted and actually rotted instead – glad to see that it may have been the growth retardent and I’M NOT retarded. lol – will try again soon!

    • justnotright March 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      that’s just wrong, saying : glad to see that it may have been the growth retardent and I’M NOT retarded. lol

  10. Lori January 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    I have done this before with great success. I purchased the organic sweet potatoes from the grocery store, used the toothpick method to keep them 1/2 way in a canning jar and then put them under grow lights. As the shoots became a good size, I broke the growing shoots off, set them in water until they grew shoots and planted those. Ended up with a pretty good harvest of sweet potatoes.

    • Martha Weisz March 24, 2013 at 8:14 am #

      You mention shoots…do you mean the part of the plant before it becomes leafy?

      • Lemons March 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

        Yes, the shoots of slips are the green, leafy stems that will begin to emerge from the potato. Let them get well established the cut or break them off at the base. You can root the slips by placing them in water if it is still too early to plant outside or just plant the slips right in the ground and keep them well watered.

  11. Jennie February 21, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    I have a mason jar with a sweet potato going, tons of roots and long vine climbing up my blind…….the leaves are drooping an the top of my potato looks tobe rotting……thinking about cutting the top off and planting the rest in soil. Think this will work?

    • Lemons February 22, 2013 at 5:28 am #

      If you have enough roots, you can give it a try! ;) I had a sweet potato plant that was successful when I tried that approach… I didn’t get many sweet potatoes from it but I had beautiful vines growing for a while ;)

  12. Martha Weisz March 24, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    I am interested in planting them for more potatoes. You mentioned planting the slips. Are these the green leafy parts at the top? Not quite sure what you mean?

    • Lemons March 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

      Yes, the slips are the green, leafy parts that sprout from the potato. Break them off at the base (where they are sprouting out from the potato) and place them in water until they root and then plant them in the ground or just plant them straight in the ground depending how cold it is outside.

  13. Milan Mei Li April 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Very cool!!

  14. Candyce April 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    That’s going to save some money this summer. Instead of buying the vines for my containers, I can grow them, thanks!

  15. Floyd May 6, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    It was clear as day in the Bruce Lee story.

  16. Lino May 7, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    I every time used to read paragraph in news papers but now as I
    am a user of internet therefore from now I am using net for content, thanks to web.

  17. Maluadi August 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    thank you for sharing!

  18. Gina Johnson September 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    I have tried to this twice and all I get is moldy water with rotting sweet potatoes! What am I doing wrong? I have used organic potatoes both times. All I want is the plants, not a harvest.

    • Lemons March 15, 2014 at 6:45 am #

      The potatoes may not be fresh enough… I have found that some “organic” sweet potatoes rotted as well and it was because they were too old. This is another reason why I have been buying them from the farmers market – where I know they are nice and fresh because I can ask the farmer when they were harvested.

  19. kendyl December 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    hi there, I bought a sweet potato from an organic shop and cut the top part off that had some eyes. i put that in a vase and it grew roots and slips. I then planted the whole thing in a bucket and the slips have grown so well. Is this method just for growing slips or do you think i’ll find more sweet potatoes in the bucket in a few months? thanks

    • Lemons March 15, 2014 at 6:42 am #

      I an not really sure. I would imagine that you would need soil and the nutrients from the soil for more sweet potatoes to grow. :)


  1. Süsser Kartoffelkopp | LinaLunas Welt - January 27, 2013

    [...] Kollegin hier versuche ich jetzt mal Beine zu machen. Nachdem ich nämlich eben auf Pinterest diesen Artikel hier gefunden hatte, fiel mir ein, dass noch eine halb-verschrumpelte Süsskartoffel in meiner Küche [...]

  2. Searchable Saturdays | V - March 23, 2013

    [...]     [...]

  3. More On Rooting Sweet Potatoes | The Organic Lemon - April 4, 2013

    [...] “How to Root a Sweet Potato” has, by far, been my most popular post. I have also received a lot of comments and emails with questions about the whole process. As a result, I decided to conduct a couple of experiments to hopefully help those who are having a little trouble getting their sweet potatoes to root… [...]

  4. How To Root A Sweet Potato For Planting - Plant Care Today - July 31, 2013

    […] How to Root a Sweet Potato for Planting […]

  5. The HomeSteading Post | Ideas, Snippets, News & Thoughts About Homesteading - August 19, 2013

    […] Read the rest of the article here […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers

%d bloggers like this: