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How to Grow Sweet Potato Greens From Sweet Potatoes

Updated on May 16, 2016

The Amazing Greens

Budding Sweet Potato Plants
Budding Sweet Potato Plants | Source

A little HIstory

Historically the sweet potato is said to have originated from South and Central America between the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. Christopher Columbus and his party of explorers are believed to have brought the vegetable to Europe from where it spread to Asia and its hinterland. North Carolina is the leading sweet potato producer here in the United States. In 2012 North Carolina produced 1.24 billion pounds of sweet potatoes! If you are familiar with the product, it is sold in supermarkets across the country as a fresh root or packaged in cans labeled Yams and sweet potato as a requirement of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Americans may sometimes call the sweet potato a yam because in some countries it is called a Yam, but it is not in any way related to the genus typical Yam family. Sweet Potatoes are in the same family as the Morning Glory and other ornamental plants of the same genus like Nightshade, even if some of those might be poisonous.


Buy The Variety of Sweet Potato You like Most for Propagation

I fell in love with the orange fleshed sweet potato because it is sweet and tasty. A few years back I was given vines and planted a small patch in my backyard garden. I reaped so many sweet potatoes, I could not think of growing new vines from scratch without picking just the right variety of sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Field

Sweet potato field in Taiwan
Sweet potato field in Taiwan | Source

A few seasons ago, I lost my vines after relocating several times and I was just tired of going to beg for some from a woman I know who only plants them for their roots. My ten year old daughter and I decided to experiment with the store varieties we bought. I had this beautiful memory of running in wide open former potato fields as a child. We would wander into an old potato field looking for new shoots of sweet potato leaves. Whenever we saw a shoot, it meant there was a sweet potato underground.From those memories, I had the brilliant idea that I could grow my own container sweet potato leaves without the vines.

Following are the step by step instructions on how to do it and create your owner container garden to enjoy:


Materials You Will Need

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The choice of sweet potato roots to use for your project are numerous. There are some potatoes that will not yield seedlings, I am not sure which ones those are, yet. The ones I am familiar with, all yield seedlings.You will need a reasonably sharp and safe kitchen knife to use to cut off the pieces you want for planting from your chosen sweet potato produce.Growth Compound to start the plants with - growth compound is laced with nutrients and elements that help new plants grow faster and healthier.Alternatively you can use potting mix or other convenient soils that can be potted for starting your crop.You will need a container convenient for starting seedlings. I preferred a rectangular plastic container because it could hold more and provided more space.Smaller round pots like these would also be convenient for starting your crop. One or a couple of pieces to a pot could germinate and take root pretty well, in readiness for transplanting, but would need to be moved faster.
The choice of sweet potato roots to use for your project are numerous. There are some potatoes that will not yield seedlings, I am not sure which ones those are, yet. The ones I am familiar with, all yield seedlings.
The choice of sweet potato roots to use for your project are numerous. There are some potatoes that will not yield seedlings, I am not sure which ones those are, yet. The ones I am familiar with, all yield seedlings. | Source
You will need a reasonably sharp and safe kitchen knife to use to cut off the pieces you want for planting from your chosen sweet potato produce.
You will need a reasonably sharp and safe kitchen knife to use to cut off the pieces you want for planting from your chosen sweet potato produce. | Source
Growth Compound to start the plants with - growth compound is laced with nutrients and elements that help new plants grow faster and healthier.
Growth Compound to start the plants with - growth compound is laced with nutrients and elements that help new plants grow faster and healthier. | Source
Alternatively you can use potting mix or other convenient soils that can be potted for starting your crop.
Alternatively you can use potting mix or other convenient soils that can be potted for starting your crop. | Source
You will need a container convenient for starting seedlings. I preferred a rectangular plastic container because it could hold more and provided more space.
You will need a container convenient for starting seedlings. I preferred a rectangular plastic container because it could hold more and provided more space. | Source
Smaller round pots like these would also be convenient for starting your crop. One or a couple of pieces to a pot could germinate and take root pretty well, in readiness for transplanting, but would need to be moved faster.
Smaller round pots like these would also be convenient for starting your crop. One or a couple of pieces to a pot could germinate and take root pretty well, in readiness for transplanting, but would need to be moved faster. | Source

Step By Step Instructions For Your Project

  1. Select those potatoes that have spores or signs on their skin that they could germinate. Often the most convincing sign is a tiny root spore or a little bulging, showing signs of new l life. Put that potato aside in a dry but warm place where they could germinate.
  2. When the signs of life are unmistakeable like in the following picture;


Identify The Raised Areas On The Sweet Potato

3. Spores like the above are a sure sign of life happening inside the potato. If you keep the sweet potato for a little longer, you end up with more defined outgrowths like the one below. However, you do not need to wait until it is so big, to start cutting off the pieces that you will plant.

Cut Out The Parts You Need

My Old Sweet Potato Patch

Three varieties of sweet potato greens grow in my backyard garden.
Three varieties of sweet potato greens grow in my backyard garden. | Source

The Sweet Potato Variety I Chose

This is the orange fleshed sweet potato
This is the orange fleshed sweet potato | Source
Up close so you can see the texture and spores
Up close so you can see the texture and spores | Source
A baked delicacy, but it can do far much more before it is cooked!
A baked delicacy, but it can do far much more before it is cooked! | Source

Planting the cutlets

Bury your cutlets in well aerated soil. I used a garden tub designed for growing seedlings.
Bury your cutlets in well aerated soil. I used a garden tub designed for growing seedlings. | Source

Watering your cutlets

Make sure to water the cutlets soon after burying them in the ground. The moisture and soil helps with vigorous growth. I used a special soil I bought from Home Depot. It is loose, thin and rich with soil nutrients that is good for young plants.
Make sure to water the cutlets soon after burying them in the ground. The moisture and soil helps with vigorous growth. I used a special soil I bought from Home Depot. It is loose, thin and rich with soil nutrients that is good for young plants. | Source

The Miracle has happened

After about three weeks!
After about three weeks! | Source

We have Our Greens

These greens are ready to be transplanted to individual containers or the garden where they can continue to grow.
These greens are ready to be transplanted to individual containers or the garden where they can continue to grow. | Source

Sweet Potato Varieties

There are several variety of sweet potatoes all over the world. Not all of them can be grown from sweet potato cutouts. If however you can grow greens from potato cutouts, the greens can also eventually yield sweet potatoes.
There are several variety of sweet potatoes all over the world. Not all of them can be grown from sweet potato cutouts. If however you can grow greens from potato cutouts, the greens can also eventually yield sweet potatoes. | Source

A delicious dish of greens

Sweet potato greens are enjoyed in most parts of the world.
Sweet potato greens are enjoyed in most parts of the world. | Source
These greens are a great source of Protein, Niacin and Calcium. They are particularly great as a source of dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium and phosphorus.
These greens are a great source of Protein, Niacin and Calcium. They are particularly great as a source of dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium and phosphorus. | Source

Those Sweet Potato Greens

Would you try a dish of sweet potato greens?

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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 15 months ago from California

      I had no idea you could get greens from sweet potatoes. Potatoes are easy to grow, so I imagine Sweet Potatoes would be too. Thanks for the idea.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 21 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thank you for the hint about propagation from the vine. I'll look forward to your next hub with a recipe for sweet potato leaves. It might also adapt for our Warrigal Greens.

    • donnaisabella profile image
      Author

      Donaisabella 21 months ago from Fort Myers

      Hi Blossom. If you have a vine, you can cut a piece of it at a joint that is strong and bury it in the soil, it will grow. That is normally the best way people propagate sweetpotatoes (using vines). A lot of people do not know that they can propagate using sweet potatoes themselves in the absence of vines. You would not get much to cook from a single vine, unless it is long and bushy. Sweet potato leaves shrink when you cook them, like a lot of other leafy vegetables.

      I have several sweet potato leaves recipes. I will share one with you soon. Thanks for the feedback.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 21 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Having lived in countries where the staple diet includes sweet potatoes, yams and taro, I often buy and enjoy them but I had no idea that the greens could be eaten. I just have one small vine growing, so I'm wondering - at what stage can I nip off some of the leaves? Also, is there a special way of cooking them?

    • donnaisabella profile image
      Author

      Donaisabella 21 months ago from Fort Myers

      Thanks for the feedback Alpha. It indeed is a delicacy, I hope you like it. Let me know when you get to it. :)

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 21 months ago from Texas

      This was a very interesting and informative article donnaisabella. As much as I love sweet potatoes, I was unaware that the leaves were a delicacy. I will have to give them a try. Thumbs up on your hub.

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