Posted by / July 12, 2012

Update: Our Sweet Potatoes & More

Some of you have been asking for updates on our houseplant projects — today we’re bringing you a progress report on our sweet potatoes!

Last we checked in, they were hanging out all happy in their coffee sack bag planters, but not really showing any major growth (pictured above). After letting them sit and do their thing for about a month, the vines have really begun to take off:

We’re at the point now where we’re considering filling more dirt into the bag to cover the lower portion of the vine and just roll the sides of the bags up as we add dirt.

We haven’t been squeezing or poking the bottom of the bag to feel if any potatoes have begun to form — though we will admit it’s been tempting. We’re just patiently waiting and watching, in hopes it will flower in late August and produce something in the early fall.

In the meantime, we decided to see if we could get the same project to work with a couple purple potatoes we had laying around that had begun sprouting from their eyes:

Without doing any research first, we just put toothpicks in the sides of the potatoes and suspended them in a glass filled with water to sit in the windowsill:

After a couple weeks, they kind of went crazy!

We like to call these the mad scientist project — what a difference from what the sweet potatoes looked like when they were beginning to sprout at this stage.

While the slips grew in thicker with smaller leaves on these guys, they pretty much sprouted and grew in the same way our sweet potatoes did — except the roots took shape right off the potato instead of having to twist off the slips and let the roots grow in water.

Once the purple potato vines were about 5-6 inches tall, we twisted them off the root potato and transplanted them into a new rolled up coffee sack planter next to our sweet potatoes.

So far they seem to have taken root and continued to grow:

Here they are after about 1 1/2 weeks in the bag:

We are hopeful something will come of these little potato plantings and will be sure to keep updating their progress here on the blog!

Keep up with our full container potato growing experiment and learn how to get your own started here.

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  1. That is so cool! I keep wondering what I can plant now because It's mid-summer. You discovered sprouting potatoes in water! How cool. :)

    1. Thanks Jasanna — we are also keeping an eye on Sprout Robot to let us know what we can plant this late in the season. Looks like me might be right on time for a second planting for a fall crop:

  2. I love your updates. Thanks for sharing!

    1. So happy to hear that — we have fun with these little projects!

  3. Hello Folks!
    If you don't want wait for sweet potatoes harvest, try the leaves. Yep! You can eat the sweet potatoes leaves in cakes, mexican tortillas, braised in olive oil and garlic as the same way you braise bok choy. Indeed, sweet potatoes leaves can be a substitute to spinach. Try, they're delicious and very healthy!

    BTW, don't try to taste commom potatoes leaves. These are poisonous!

    Greeting from Southern Brazil!

    1. We have had someone else tell us that and we are certainly going to give this a try in the fall. Thanks for stopping by and we will certainly report this to all once we try it!

  4. I had a sweet potato that I have been doing the same with. I started it in some water a couple months ago. I just need to get it planted in a planter so that I can keep in the house as I doubt there will be any potatoes till after the first frost here.
    I also have stated a celery plant from the end of the celery stalk. I need to also plant that in some dirt.
    Lastly I have the top of a pineapple plant that I have in some water. It seems to be producing some roots. I have read that they take a couple years to produce. So again I am putting it in a planter to be able to keep inside during the winter.

    1. Cheri, wonderful! Please keep us posted on the progress.

  5. Just found your site today and I love it. Look forward to having a bountiful garden next year. Thanks for being here. Barb

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Barb! So glad you found some of the posts helpful — we have a lot of fun with the gardening!

  6. Thank you for all the information! I'm learning so much from you. But what did you do with the potato, after snapping off the shoots? it looks like it had its own roots, too?
    And how did they turn out?! Thanks again :)

    1. We continued to keep it water producing more shoots the we put it in our compost bin. Here is the big reveal on sweet potatoes!

  7. This is so awesome. I have a parrot and yes to be healthy, I spend ALOT of money on fresh vegetables, sweet potatoes, especially Kale and red chard. Can I sprout those too? And I can't use fertilizer and pesticides because of toxins... Please any sprouting ideas for dark leafy veges, broccoli? Anything? I love the sweet potato thing! Wow, maybe I won't be so broke and I'll beable to eat myself again!!

  8. I know this is a bit late, but....
    Your sweet potatoes and blue potatoes don't look alike because they are not related. Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family and "regular" potatoes are in the nightshade family.
    Only the sweet potato babies are called slips. As far as I know, baby potatoes are just called potatoes.
    Regular potato plants produce more potatoes if you keep burying them (hilling). This is not necessary with sweet potatoes.


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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