propagate sweet potato vine

Propagating Sweet Potato Vine

My sweet potato vine is growing like stink in my container garden and I’d like to start my own

Next year I would like to start my own sweet potato vine — — how do I go about this?

Some of the ones you buy are lime green, while others are a reddish colour. Can you tell me more about these vines.
Thanks so much.


Sweet Potato Vines In Containers
Sweet Potato Vines In Containers: Image Doug Green

Doug Says

The different colours are simply different varieties and these range from the light lime-greens right through to blackish leaves. They are stunning plants for sure in hanging baskets.

Not Grown From Seed

To begin with, sweet potato vines are not grown from seed but rather from cuttings or rooting up sections the tuber. So in order for you to have your own — buy the varieties you like right now. Grow them on this summer and plan on overwintering them.

Here’s what you need to know.

Tip cuttings are best

Home gardeners are going to have the best luck with taking tip cuttings

Or, some gardeners have success by taking an 8–12 inch long section of a side-shoot (a growing vine off the main stem) and rooting this up in a glass of water. This is going to be a variable success rate but hey, it’s really easy to try.

Use warm water! Cold water will kill the shoot.

Tuber propagation

The other thing you can do is grow them, and propagate from the tuber itself. Treat it as you would a regular sweet potato and produce your own vines. You do this by:

  • Laying sweet potato roots on their sides in hotbeds (temperatures between 75–80F) and cover with 2 inches of moist sand.
  • The sweet potato will sprout and you remove each of these slips with a bit of a twisting motion to pull it away from the main root.
  • Pot each slip up as you remove it from the mother plant and keep it very warm until new leaves and shoots develop.
  • Leave the mother plant in place to continue producing baby shoots.

Click here for more information on plant propagation

sweet potato vine growing wild
A sweet potato vine that escaped from a garden in Georgia. They can be weedy! where frost is a stranger. Image: Doug Green

Glass of Water

I have also seen home gardeners stick toothpicks into the tuber and suspend it in a glass of water (bottom in the water, top out) and the eyes will sprout new vines.

We’ve done this on our kitchen window — suspend the tuber so the bottom is just in the water by using toothpicks to stop the tuber from falling into the glass.

But you have to keep them warm to do this — chills kill

When the roots are well developed and tops starting to grow…

Once the roots are well developed and the tops are growing well, take out of the water and pot up into a 6-inch pot of soilless mix.

You have to give them

  • full sunlight,
  • lots of water (for at least the first few weeks keep the soil damp at all times and then back off to regular watering) and
  • warm temperatures. (nothing less than 70F — remember this is a tropical plant)

It’s not hard — it just takes a bit of attention to keeping the tuber in the water and keeping it warm.

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