It may seem a little strange that this post is about how to root a sweet potato since it is the middle of winter, BUT I have a really good reason for sharing it now.
Sweet Potato Planting Terms And A Few Facts
Let’s start off by speaking the same language and understanding some terms.
A sweet potato can refer to two different things. The definition of a sweet potato is:
- a tropical vine of the morning-glory family with leaves in various shapes and often white and purplish flowers
- a large thick sweet and nutritious tuberous root that is cooked and eaten as a vegetable
A few facts about the sweet potato:
- The sweet potato plant is a native to tropical America and is widely cultivated in warm temperate climates.
- The sweet potato plant is a trailing vine with stems that have funnel shaped flowers.
- The sweet potato vine has glossy, green leaves.
- The flower that grows on the sweet potato vine is tinged with pink or rose violet.
- Sweet potato flowers are made of five fused petals.
- The main pollinators of a sweet potato flower are honeybees and bumblebees.
- The sweet potato vegetable is not related to the white or Irish potato.
- A sweet potato vegetable grows underground.
- The root end of a sweet potato usually comes to a sharper point than the stem end which tends to be flatter.
- Sweet potatoes are tuberous roots that are oblong or pointed oval.
- The color of the sweet potato skin ranges from light buff, brown and purplish red.
- The pulp of the sweet potato is usually orange, but can also be purple or white.
- A sweet potato with white pulp is the highest in starch.
- A sweet potato with orange pulp is high in carotene
A gardening term:
The definition of slip in relation to a sweet potato: a small shoot or twig cut for planting or grafting.
How To Root A Sweet Potato
Now that we have established what a sweet potato is and know a gardening term, it is time to learn how to root a sweet potato.
Most vegetables are started by using seeds for the plant. That’s not how it all begins with a sweet potato. A sweet potato is started from slips that are grown from a mature sweet potato. You can use a sweet potato from your garden or from the grocery store. Sometimes the non-organic sweet potatoes take longer to “start” because they have been sprayed with insecticide, so if you are worried about that then just buy an organic sweet potato.
The goal is to grow shoots of growth or slips off the sweet potato. Each sweet potato can produce up to 50 slip sprouts.
So this is what you need to root a sweet potato:
- A sweet potato
- Several toothpicks
- A jar
- A warm place with indirect sunlight
To begin, make sure that your sweet potato can fit at least half way into the jar. I was lucky because it not only fits halfway into the jar, but it is bulbous enough on the other end that it also won’t fall through the opening of the jar. In case you aren’t that lucky, put the sweet potato in the jar and judge where the halfway point is on the sweet potato.
Now poke three evenly spaced toothpicks partially into the sweet potato to act as a hanger on the jar. The toothpicks will also keep the root end from touching the bottom of the jar.
Fill the jar up to the halfway point with clean, room temperature water. Rainwater works best because it is “natural,” but tap water will also work just fine too.
Set the jar in a warm, bright place with indirect sunlight like near the radiator or on a window ledge. The temperature needs to stay above 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and should not get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
While we are waiting for slips to grow, be sure to keep the jar rotated so that all sides of the sweet potato will be exposed to about the same amount of sunlight.
Also, keep an eye on the water. Try to keep the water at the same level and clean. Completely dump the water out about ever three to four days and fill back up to the same level again. This will prevent the sweet potato from rotting and when roots grow, it will prevent root rot.
That is how we start rooting slips on a sweet potato to prepare it for gardening or…Oh yeah. I didn’t tell you exactly why I am rooting a sweet potato in the middle of winter, did I?
Well, I’m not going to tell you right now either. This is our little adventure and as we watch this sweet potato grow, not only will you learn a thing or two, but eventually you will get to see what I’m going to do with it! You should grow one with me at the same time too!
Aren’t you just so excited?!!!
Humor me and leave a comment telling me that you just can’t hardly wait to see where our adventure is headed!