A Guide to Successfully Cultivating Sweet Potatoes in Soil Bags

Growing sweet potatoes in soil bags is an innovative and space-saving method that can yield a bountiful harvest even in small gardens or urban environments. This approach offers numerous benefits, including easy management, improved drainage, and the ability to move plants as needed. Here’s a comprehensive guide to successfully cultivating sweet potatoes in soil bags, providing detailed steps and tips to ensure a plentiful and healthy crop.


Sweet potatoes are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, making them a great addition to any diet. Traditionally grown in the ground, sweet potatoes can also thrive in soil bags, which offer the flexibility to grow them in limited spaces like balconies, patios, or small gardens. This method is particularly useful for gardeners looking to maximize their yield in a controlled environment. By following these steps, you can enjoy homegrown sweet potatoes with minimal effort.

Choosing Quality Slips

The first step in cultivating sweet potatoes is selecting high-quality slips. Slips are young shoots grown from mature sweet potatoes. Here’s how to ensure you start with the best:

  1. Purchase from Reputable Sources: Buy slips from garden centers or reputable online suppliers. Ensure they are healthy, vibrant, and free from any signs of disease.
  2. Start Your Own Slips: Alternatively, you can start slips from a mature sweet potato. Place a healthy sweet potato in water, partially submerged, and keep it in a warm, sunny spot. In a few weeks, shoots will sprout. Once they reach about 6 inches, gently twist them off and place them in water until roots develop.

Preparing Soil Bags

Soil bags are essential for this growing method. Choose bags that are large enough to accommodate the growth of sweet potatoes:

  1. Select Durable Bags: Use heavy-duty fabric grow bags or sturdy plastic bags with good drainage. Bags should be at least 15-20 gallons in capacity to allow ample space for tuber development.
  2. Ensure Proper Drainage: If using plastic bags, poke several holes at the bottom to ensure excess water can drain out, preventing waterlogging and root rot.

Filling the Bags with Soil

The right soil mix is crucial for the healthy growth of sweet potatoes. They prefer well-draining, nutrient-rich soil:

  1. Prepare the Soil Mix: Combine equal parts of garden soil, compost, and sand or perlite. This mix provides the necessary nutrients and ensures good drainage.
  2. Fill the Bags: Fill the soil bags with the prepared mix, leaving about 4-6 inches from the top. This space allows for watering and adding more soil as the plants grow.

Planting the Slips

Proper planting technique ensures your sweet potato slips take root and thrive:

  1. Plant the Slips: Make holes in the soil about 12 inches apart. Plant each slip deep enough to bury the stem up to the first set of leaves. This encourages the growth of more roots and tubers.
  2. Firm the Soil: Gently press the soil around the slips to remove air pockets and provide stability.

Watering Regularly

Sweet potatoes need consistent moisture to grow well:

  1. Keep Soil Moist: Water the soil regularly to keep it consistently moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can stunt growth.
  2. Water at the Base: Water the plants at the base to avoid wetting the foliage, which can reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Providing Full Sunlight

Sweet potatoes thrive in warm conditions and need plenty of sunlight:

  1. Place in Full Sun: Position the soil bags in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. This ensures optimal growth and development of the tubers.
  2. Move as Needed: One advantage of soil bags is the ability to move them. If necessary, reposition the bags to ensure they get adequate sunlight throughout the day.

Fertilizing Periodically

Regular fertilization helps promote healthy growth and a good yield:

  1. Use Balanced Fertilizer: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. Look for a fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  2. Avoid Over-fertilization: Too much nitrogen can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of tubers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over-fertilizing.

Monitoring Growth and Health

Regular monitoring can help identify and address potential issues early:

  1. Check for Pests: Inspect the plants regularly for pests like aphids, whiteflies, and beetles. Use organic insecticides or natural predators to manage infestations.
  2. Watch for Diseases: Be vigilant for signs of disease, such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth. Remove affected plants promptly to prevent the spread of disease.
  3. Prune as Necessary: Trim back excessive foliage to ensure the plant’s energy is directed towards tuber development.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

Knowing when and how to harvest is crucial to getting the best yield:

  1. Timing: Sweet potatoes are typically ready for harvest 90-120 days after planting. The foliage will start to yellow as a sign of maturity.
  2. Harvest Carefully: Gently dig into the soil bags to locate the tubers. Use your hands or a small garden fork to avoid damaging them.
  3. Cure the Tubers: After harvesting, cure the sweet potatoes by placing them in a warm, humid environment (85°F and 90% humidity) for about 10 days. This process helps to heal any cuts and improves the sweetness and shelf life of the tubers.


Growing sweet potatoes in soil bags is a practical and efficient method that can yield a bountiful harvest even in limited spaces. By choosing quality slips, preparing the right soil mix, providing consistent care, and ensuring adequate sunlight, you can enjoy a successful sweet potato crop. This approach not only makes gardening accessible to those with small spaces but also offers the satisfaction of homegrown produce.

Ready to start your sweet potato growing adventure? Let’s get planting and enjoy the fruits of your labor! 🍠🌱

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