Growing new sweet potato vines from cuttings is a great way to get free plants—fast!— and they can last for many seasons.
Growing new plants from existing ones is the simplest form of propagation and perfect for beginner gardeners.
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So Easy It’s Easy
Ornamental sweet potato vine never goes out of style. It’s bright, beautiful, fast-growing, and adds a punch of cheer to any garden container.
And better yet, it’s easy to grow more from cuttings. This easy-going plant can grow in soil or water so your options are wide open. You can also use it as a houseplant, though it can be attractive to various pesky flies that hold parties indoors, so beware of that.
I’ll show you how I propagate it in jars of water.
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- Ornamental sweet potato vine (lime green is the most common colour but also check for the darker varieties too).
- Scissors (clean with rubbing alcohol, bleach (1 part bleach:9 parts water) or your favourite garden-friendly disinfectant).
- Jars or vases with warm water.
Step 1 – Take a cutting below a leaf node
What is a leaf node? It’s the location on the plant where a leaf grows out of the main stem. When leaves are removed, roots can grow in their place. Cool, right? Okay, well, I think so.
I like to have about 6-8″ of vine to use for a cutting. Using clean scissors (I keep rubbing alcohol handy), clip off a piece of vine just below a leaf node. You’ll actually most likely get new roots at every leaf node in the water jar.
Step 2 – Break off the lower leaves
See all the leaf node stubs in the image (above)? I’ve removed the leaves to expose the entire section that will sit in water. New roots will form at those nodes. If you submerge the leaves in water, they will rot. You don’t want that.
Step 3 – Place the stems in fresh, warm water
Warm water is a key to successful gardening. Plant roots do not like the cold the same way we don’t like cold feet.
I keep the jars in a slightly shaded area. They don’t need a lot of sun and you don’t ever want the water evaporating and exposing the roots.
After a week or so, you’ll see white roots start to form at the former leaf node locations. Some sweet potato vines grow really fast—with tons of roots—and others take their sweet time.
Either way, it’s a tough plant to kill. And I hope I didn’t just jinx your efforts by saying that.
Step 4 – Replace the water every few days
You don’t want the water getting gross or murky so keep it fresh. You can use the old water to water other garden plants.
You might notice the remaining leaves wilt slightly for a few days. Don’t panic. They should get perky again soon.
Step 5 – Plant them in containers or keep them in jars
When the roots are at least 3″ long, you can plant your vines in containers or continue growing them in jars.
Various insects will nibble on the leaves but it’s rarely tragic. You can see tiny bite marks in the image below. No big deal. They seem to nip and run.
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Save Them For Next Year
As mentioned, you can bring the cuttings indoors and keep them going all winter long (either in containers with proper container mix) or in water jars or vases. The whiteflies (and their buddies) may show up though. Because I grow other plants indoors (including vegetables), I keep a fan near my growing area and that helps blow them away. Where they go, I don’t know, but they can’t bother the plants when they can’t get to them.
You could also overwinter them in a greenhouse but be careful to keep them in non-breakable containers. If the water freezes, the plants will probably die and the jars may break.
I hope you’ll give this a try. It’s a super fast way to get more plants from the purchase of just a few!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
What Else Can You Grow From Cuttings?
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