Sweet Potato Vine Winter Care: Tips On Winterizing Sweet Potato Vines

Image by LynGianni

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

If you live in a warm climate between USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and 11, sweet potato vine winter care is simple because the plants will be fine in the ground year round. If you live north of zone 9, however, take steps to care for sweet potato vines over winter to prevent them from freezing. Read on to learn how.

Sweet Potato Vine Winter Care

If you have space, you can simply bring the plants indoors and grow them as houseplants until spring. Otherwise, there are several easy ways of overwintering a sweet potato vine.

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Overwintering Sweet Potato Tubers

Bulb-like tubers grow just beneath the surface of the soil. To overwinter the tubers, cut the vines to ground level, then dig them up before the first frost in autumn. Dig carefully and be careful not to slice into the tubers.

Brush the soil lightly off the tubers, then store them, not touching, in a cardboard box filled with peat moss, sand or vermiculite. Place the box in a cool, dry location where the tubers won’t freeze.

Watch for the tubers to sprout in spring, then cut each tuber into chunks, each with at least one sprout. The tubers are now ready to plant outdoors, but be sure all danger of frost has passed.

Alternatively, instead of storing the tubers over the winter, pot them up in a container filled with fresh potting soil and bring the container indoors. The tubers will sprout and you’ll have an attractive plant that you can enjoy until it’s time to move it outdoors in spring.

Winterizing Sweet Potato Vines by Cuttings

Take several 10- to 12-inch cuttings from your sweet potato vines before the plant is nipped by frost in autumn. Rinse the cuttings thoroughly under cool running water to wash away any pests, then place them in a glass container or vase filled with clean water.

Any container is suitable, but a clear vase will allow you to see the developing roots. Be sure to remove the lower leaves first because any leaves that touch the water will cause the cuttings to rot.

Care for Sweet Potato Vines Over Winter

Place the container in indirect sunlight and watch for roots to develop within a few days. At this point, you can leave the container all winter, or you can pot them up and enjoy them as indoor plants until spring.

If you decide to leave the cuttings in water, change the water if it becomes cloudy or brackish. Keep the water level above the roots.

If you decide to pot the rooted cuttings, place the pot in a sunny spot and water as needed to keep the potting mix lightly moist, but never soggy.

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