Overwintering Sweet Potato Vines for Next Season

In my earlier post Growing Sweet Potatoes in the North, I described how to grow short-season sweet potatoes in a northern Zone 3-2b garden. I also mentioned overwintering the vines for the next season.

This is a very easy process and you can bring these slips into the house for the winter, and treat them the same as you would any other pretty houseplant while you wait for warmer weather. If you read my previous post, you will notice the process is almost identical to what I do in spring, except on a smaller scale.

Roots growing on slips from sweet potato vines

Roots growing on slips from sweet potato vines

Small (TASTY) tubers harvested from the overwintered vines in spring

Small (TASTY) tubers harvested from the overwintered vines in spring

Growing new vines from cuttings is much easier than trying to grow shoots from the tubers themselves, and cheaper than buying new slips and stock each spring. Growing from cuttings is done by taking a cutting from the vine at harvest, rooting it in some water, and planting it in some potting soil for the winter. The bonus with taking cuttings is, all the tubers you grew can be eaten. And a second hidden bonus is, often the overwintered vines will grow tiny sweet potatoes over the winter months, and you get to harvest these again in the spring when you prepare fresh cuttings and vines for your summer season!

There are a couple things to consider.

  • Use loose soil so the vines have a chance to grow healthy roots, and possibly even tiny tubers.
  • Make sure you give the vines enough nutrient in the soil to stay healthy and growing
  • Plant the vines when the roots are not very long, to prevent them from being coiled and preventing tubers from developing.
  • Keep the pots in a warm area with enough light, so they don’t try to go dormant or the vines think they need to die-off for winter.

In this (slightly blurry) recorded Periscope broadcast video, I discuss the process I use for overwintering sweet potato vines.

I’m always happy to answer questions, or hear your thoughts in comments. Have you grown Sweet Potatoes in the North?  Had luck?

 

 

2 thoughts on “Overwintering Sweet Potato Vines for Next Season
  1. Nawahl

    Thank you!

  2. Dani

    Hi! I run a small organic farm in California and wondering if you could help me with a problem: I bought two acres worth of sweet potato slips but, one farm/equipment disaster after another and I missed my opportunity to plant them this year. They’re currently heeled together in one big ditch in our rich farm soil and growing large and bushy. I’d like to overwinter them so I can plant next year , but it isn’t practical to store so many individually in pots. What are your thoughts about my building a small hoop house over the plants and trying to keep them for next spring? Or any other ideas/tips on how to keep them alive?

    Thanks in advance for your help, and if you could respond via email or phone that would be great! My name is Dani and I’m a young farmer who could use all the help I can get.

    Looking forward to hearing back,

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