Sweet potatoes can be grown by either planting a sweet potato from the supermarket or buying one already with sprouts from a nursery.
For gardeners wanting a different ground cover, some varieties are grown for their attractive lime or purple leaves. These varieties are developed for their foliage and used as a ground cover or a hanging plant, but the edible crop is not abundant.
Sweet potatoes can be planted all year round in warmer areas in Australia. For temperate and cooler gardens, plant root after the last frost. Choose a sunny, sheltered position in the garden or large pots.
For sweet potatoes bought at the supermarket, make a mound in the garden, lay it flat on the ground and only half cover it with soil. This will prevent it from getting too wet and rotting, the main reason for the plant not flourishing. Use Searles Herb & Vegetable Specialty Mix, which has excellent draining properties and contains 9 months of control-release fertiliser. This mix can also be used in the garden to create the mound to grow your sweet potato. New shoots will appear after a few weeks.
Growing a plant from the nursery already sprouted is just a matter of planting it up into the garden or a container. If growing in a container, ensure it is large enough for the sweet potato to develop. Use a pot at least 40cm or larger.
Water plants consistently to allow good growth and stop the soil from compacting.
The leaves eventually turn yellow to signal it is time to harvest. Growing sweet potatoes is for the patient gardener as it can take up to 4-6 months to harvest a crop. If growing for a delightful foliage groundcover or hanging basket, they will eventually need to be replanted or wait until they reshoot, but the leaf colour is spectacular.
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