The warmth-loving sweet potatoes feel particularly good in pots on the balcony and terrace. When cultivated and cared for correctly, they reward the gardener with blossoms and a rich harvest. We explain how to plant sweet potatoes yourself. Sweet potatoes are easy to grow yourself and also thrive in pots on the balcony.
The sweet potato belongs to the bindweed family and originally comes from Central America. In recent years, the tuber, which is only distantly related to the potato, has grown in popularity so that it can be found in virtually every supermarket.
The main growing areas worldwide are in China, the sweet potatoes in our supermarkets often come from Spain. But even in our part of the world you can grow sweet potatoes in buckets and boxes in a warm place. Especially the balcony and terrace are ideal!
Prefer sweet potatoes from January
You can start growing sweet potatoes as early as the end of January. This gives the shoots enough time to grow tall and strong before being planted outdoors.
Sweet potatoes come from a warm climate zone and are very sensitive to cold. If you have a cold frame, you can plant your sweet potatoes here as early as April. Since the plants do not tolerate the cold well, they must not be taken outside too early. If you want to be on the safe side or plant the sweet potatoes directly in the bed or in pots, wait for the ice saints and only put the sweet potatoes outside at the end of May.
You can easily pull your own sweet potatoes from the tubers that you can buy in the supermarket. Use organic quality, because these tubers have not been treated with germ inhibitors and sprout more easily.
Grow sweet potatoes before planting
To make the sweet potato rise more easily, pierce the tuber in the lower half with 3 toothpicks. Then place the sweet potato on a glass partially filled with water so that the toothpicks hold the sweet potato in suspension and the fruit is about 2 cm deep in the water. Cut particularly large tubers in half before stabilizing them with toothpicks and hanging them in the water with the cut side down. The sweet potato will soon begin to develop shoots and roots!
Alternatively, let the sweet potatoes soar directly in the soil. To do this, place the whole tubers directly in a bucket with good, loose soil and leave them in a light, not too cool room. Keep the soil evenly moist and the first shoots will appear after a few weeks.
Planting sweet potatoes
Before planting, let the shoots grow as large as possible. As soon as the shoots are too big for the jar, place the sweet potatoes in a pot of fresh soil so that the tuber is covered and the shoots look out of the soil. In a bright place, the plants can continue to grow until it is time to plant out.
If the sweet potatoes are planted directly in the bed, they need enough space: there should be at least 60 cm from the next plant. When planting several rows, keep a minimum of 30 cm between rows.
Mulch, straw or a black plant film keep the soil warm, which further stimulates growth. Also, be sure to water the plants regularly. During the summer, the sweet potato will reward you with purple, white or reddish flowers.
Harvest sweet potatoes
Leave the sweet potatoes in the ground for as long as possible so that the tubers grow as large as possible. As soon as the leaves turn yellow, but at the latest before the first frost, it is time for the harvest. A dry, sunny day is ideal for this.
After harvesting, let the sweet potatoes dry in a sheltered place for one to two days – during this period the skin will firm up and the tubers will last longer. Store the sweet potatoes like potatoes and use them within 12 to 15 weeks.
Tip: Put some sweet potatoes aside to allow them to sprout again from January – this is how you lay the foundation for cultivation in the next garden year.