Posted by / April 24, 2012

Sack o' Potatoes: Planting Sweet Potatoes in a Bag

Well folks, last time we left off with our sweet potato growing project, we'd just twisted off the slips from the mother potato and placed them in a shallow dish of water in hopes they'd soon sprout roots of their own — and that is exactly what they did:

The roots began growing from the potato slips almost within 24 hours and what surprised us most was how they shot out from all over the stems of the slips instead of down through the bottom where we'd twisted them off the mother sweet potato.

We let the new root growth get about 1 inch long and then took them on outside to plant.

As for how we planted them — we had to go with an above ground container system since we don't have enough ground space to contain the potatoes or vines. We decided to use one of our large burlap coffee sacks we'd gotten from Blanchard's Coffee, our local source for roasted beans here in RVA, and got to it.

Side Note: You may have seen the laptop case and dog bed for Basil we have also made from our supply of coffee sacks from Blanchard's — love these things.

We filled up the base of the bag with a mixture of loose dirt and organic potting soil — sweet potatoes prefer very loose soil or ground as opposed to packed in dirt. Once filled the bag about 1/3 full we rolled down the sides of the sack to just above the dirt and planted both root slips directly into the soil.

We placed the rooted stems into the dirt and loosely packed soil to the tops of the remaining leaves. As the slips grow into longer vines, we can easily roll up the sides of the sack and fill in more dirt if need be. Btw, that's our supervisor performing quality control up there.

We then gave them a generous watering, placed the bag in a low travel zone in our backyard and crossed our fingers.

From here on out, we'll simply leave them be other than some healthy waterings and possibly adding more dirt as the vines grow up. If all goes according to plan, we should see vines forming soon and continuing through the summer into early fall.

Sweet potatoes take a really long time to grow, but we're excited to see if we are able to do it. We hear the actual potatoes don't really start forming until their beautiful purple flowers begin to bud, which could be as long as August. We should be able to harvest these sweet potatoes in early September and also hear the longer you leave them in before the first frost, the larger they will grow. Oh, and by harvest, I mean turn this potato sack over and dump out multiple pounds worth of sweet potatoes!

Should be an interesting adventure from here on out! Keep up with the full sweet potato growing project here.


  1. So much fun! Love the use of the coffee sack. What great recipes will you guys be making this fall with all your homegrown produce? :)

    1. Angie, we are wondering the same thing and pinning away as we come across anything creative with sweet potatoes - that's for sure!

  2. That's awesome!! You'll already have your potatoes in a bag! :D

    1. Hahaha, you are so right! We hoping it will just make it so easy to just dump them out instead of having to dig them up!

  3. My sweet potatoes are finally rooting (after a month) and they are getting a little bumpy above the water...Did the green vine suddenly pop through the skin? I'm trying to be patient... but I'm a little worried they aren't growing as quickly as yours!

    1. Great Gail! Ours definitely sprouted roots first and we saw little dark "eyes" literally pop through the skin that eventually grew into the sprouts. Sometimes they just take time and I would say ours took a good 3 weeks to get some action.

  4. I have a similar question to Gail's - what's your timeline on these sweet potatoes? I have tried this before and it took for-e-ver and eventually some dummy stepped on my plant. So I am keen to try again. How long did it take for you to get 5" stems?

    1. Hey Jenny! From starting the potato in the water to getting the 5 inch sprouts I would say it took about 5 weeks! I hope this helps!


Mary and Tim Vidra, here! Both Richmond natives & do-it-yourselfers by nature, we are continually in search of simple solutions for living more sustainably — sharing ideas, tips and tricks for DIY home decor, urban gardening and cooking.


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