Worth Doing: Save your Sweet Potato Vines for Next Year

Kansas Country Garden

It's coming! You knew it was. We all do. One day soon there will be a freeze and the garden will be over. As that day approaches a scramble ensues. 

Pick the last of the veggies! Prepare houseplants to return indoors! Save the ornamental sweet potatoes for next years vines!


Preparing for a winter inside














Of those jobs, the biggest and most cumbersome one is the houseplants. It involves cleaning pots, spraying for insects, finding places to put them all, recruiting some muscles to help move the big ones and maybe a little whining. At my house there are too many and yet I am not even going to pretend that I will leave a few out and lose them to the freeze. I've tried that before only to run out at the last minute to save another plant. You, I'm sure, have more sense than I do and are not making a huge production out a simple change in seasons. 


Sweet potato vines do great in containers!
There is a simple seasonal job that requires no muscles or whining. Though I've grown ornamental sweet potato vines (Ipomoea batatasfor years, it was only last year that I learned to save them for next summer. 

If you grow ornamental sweet potato vines I don't have to tell you what a great plant they are.  Perfect for containers and hanging baskets, they thrive  during our hot summers as long as they get plenty of water. I don't think you can ever have too many of them. 




There's usually a tuber under that plant. 







If you take a look below your sweet potato vine, you'll most likely discover that they have produced tubers, just what you might expect from any sweet potato plant. These tubers are your key to next year's plants. 

Simply:

  • dig them
  • cut off any foliage
  • allow them to dry
  • dust off the dirt 
  • store them until next spring in a cardboard box (potatoes shouldn't touch)
  • pick a date in late March or early April and note it on your calendar so you don't forget them (optional, and maybe only necessary for me)
Last year I stuck mine in a shoe box and stored it in the basement.

The light colored tubers were from green plant, the red tuber was from a lime colored plant.
Once spring comes, you have some options.  I think you could plant them in the ground or a pot once the weather is warm, but it would take some time for them to sprout, perhaps several weeks. 

Only half of the tuber should be in the water.







A better option, I think, is to root your tubers inside in containers and grow slips. It's easy. 
  • Place the tuber in a container with half the tuber in the water and half above the water
  • Sometimes toothpicks are used to secure the potato above the water
  • Check occasionally to add water if needed
  • In a few weeks when slips form, they can be snapped off and placed in another container with water to be rooted 
  • Once the weather is settled, rooted plants can be planted outdoors
  • You can also plant your rooted sweet potato and it will quickly produce a vigorous plant. 
The slips are place in a glass to root

May your sweet potatoes multiply and thrive! You really can't have too many in your garden and next year you may have more than ever!








5 comments:

  1. What a great idea, Bev! I always just let them go. Thank you...I will dig mine up today!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dana! I only wish I'd figured it out sooner.

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  2. These vines look so nice in pots with a mixture of other plants. I'm going to begin planning now!
    Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I have also overwintered ipoema cuttings in glasses of water on a windowsill. Just snip, dip, and wait for spring. No need to save the tuber. They grow roots and are ready for planting when you are.

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  4. This is wonderful news, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I always let mine go and am so sad at that.

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