Sweet Potato Vines, Which Part of The Plant You Can Eat and Questions & Answers

Here is a sweet potato vine garden which first started planting in the summer of 2020 by my dad. That was the first time I’ve ever seen my dad planting sweet potatoes and also the last. I bought some sweet potato roots from the store and left them in the garage and then they turned up the baby plants (sprouting). My dad took them to the back of the garden and planted them there.

Japanese sweet potato plants on August 1, 2022.

Last year, I didn’t uproot them. I just left them there and cut off all the vines three or four times to clean up. They regrow again and again every time I cut until their season is over. Here is a picture of this year’s sweet potato vines just right after cutting. I cut down to the ground.

Sweet potato vines from a garden bed and ready to trash on August 1, 2022.

How to know which part of a sweet potato plant is the right young part to eat? Just simply use your bare hand to cut it off. The part which your hand can cut to that is where you can eat. Here are how many young sweet potato plant shoots I got from 2 small chunks of a sweet potato garden, one in the above picture (in a garden bed) and a second one not pictured (next to the fence).

Young sweet potato plant shoots on August 1, 2022.

I kept only the young shoots to eat and trash the rest of them. For those I don’t eat or are unable to eat, I recycle back to the earth and soon become fertilized for other plants; that is what I learned from my dad and what he usually did.

I heard some people saying they eat leaves and vines of sweet potato plants too, but our family and people I knew back in where I came from eat only the young parts. We never ever eat other parts except the young shoots. We left the rest for the pigs to eat back then…

To me, I found that you must be careful about eating other parts like potato vines, not the young ones because I saw they seem to be creating sticky somehow and might make you constipated… and then you already know, too much constipation might cause hemorrhoids. That’s what I see and think; I might be wrong about that.

So far, I cut twice this year. These pictures are from a second time cutting on August 1, 2022.

Here are some questions and answers might help some of you seeking to know about sweet potato plants/vines.

  1. What if you don’t cut back sweet potato vines? They will continue to climb to wherever space is available for them.
  2. What happens after cutting sweet potato vines off? They will regrow again and again until the end of the season.
  3. What if you don’t uproot sweet potatoes this season? What happens if I don’t harvest my sweet potatoes? Can you leave sweet potatoes in the ground for too long? Do sweet potato vines come back every year? They will sleep under the ground until next season and grow again that happens where I live, no snow.
  4. Should sweet potato vines be cut back? If you don’t want them grow crazy.
  5. Do you need to fertilize sweet potato vines? I don’t fertilize them because they are already growing crazy and we don’t have many spaces available for them or other plants and trees. However, if you want them to grow vigorously, then fertilize them; that’s what I think.
  6. How do you know when it’s time to dig up sweet potatoes? When they look unhealthy, yellow leaves…
  7. Do you need to water sweet potato plants? I have never water them; sometimes, the rain took care of them (look at the above pictures which are proving to you how no watering sweet potato vines look like).
  8. What happens to vegetables under sweet potato vines? When they are raw over your vegetables, your vegetables which are stuck under them will die. So far, I have seen my pennywort vegetables, Asian chives, Vietnamese herb fish-mint…

I will write a post in deep detail about how to grow sweet potatoes soon.