Growing Sweet Potatoes in 5 Gallon Buckets: How Many to Plant

Since sweet potatoes are becoming more popular, it’s time to talk about how to grow this plant in a bucket. This article will tell you everything you need to know to start growing your own sweet potatoes in 20-gallon buckets, from where to buy your first seed potato to how to harvest a huge crop of potatoes at the end.

Many will argue that sweet potatoes are superior to regular potatoes. For example, the popular paleo diet says that regular potatoes are just starchy carbs and that sweet potatoes are full of good things for you.

I’ve done a bit of research on the differences between sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. These are the five main points I’ve seen people talk about the most.

And in case you haven’t noticed – sweet potatoes can get really big. In other words, growing sweet potatoes in buckets will give you more fruit than growing regular potatoes.

You can use regular grocery store food as seed stock for many plants, like this sweet potato idea. I call this grocery multiplication. One of the best known ways to multiply groceries is with green onions. Just put the bottom inch of a root tip in water or soil, and in two weeks it will grow a new crop of green onions for you. You can also use this method with mushrooms and Jerusalem artichokes.

Sweet potatoes are a nutrient-dense, delicious crop that can be grown easily in 5 gallon buckets. But how many sweet potato slips should you plant per bucket for optimal harvests? This guide covers the ideal number of plants, planting techniques, care tips, and expected yields when growing sweet potatoes in 5 gallon containers.

Why Grow Sweet Potatoes in Buckets?

Sweet potatoes thrive in warm climates and require lots of space since they spread out vines that can reach over 10 feet long. Growing them in 5 gallon buckets allows you to:

  • Grow them in small spaces like patios balconies and porches.

  • Move them to optimal sunlight as needed.

  • Control the soil quality and drainage

  • Avoid pest issues from garden soil

  • Customize care for each plant’s needs.

  • Harvest easily by tipping out the bucket.

Selecting the Right Bucket

Almost any 5 gallon bucket will work but consider these tips:

  • Use food-grade plastic buckets meant for food crops. Avoid chemical containers.

  • Dark colored buckets absorb more heat to keep roots warm.

  • Make drainage holes in the bottom and sides if the bucket doesn’t have them.

  • Add trellising on the sides so vines can climb upwards.

How Many Sweet Potato Slips Per 5 Gallon Bucket?

The ideal number is 2 slips per 5 gallon bucket. Here’s why:

  • 1 slip often doesn’t yield enough.

  • 2 slips give room for robust root growth and spreading vines.

  • More than 2 slips leads to overcrowding and smaller tubers.

  • 2 plants maximize the yield for a 5 gallon container’s space.

Acquiring Sweet Potato Slips

Sweet potato slips are sprouted pieces of a potato tuber or vine cuttings. To get slips:

  • Grow your own by sprouting a potato in water or moist soil.

  • Take cuttings from a friend’s existing vines.

  • Order certified disease-free slips online or from garden centers.

  • Grocery store potatoes work but may be treated to prevent sprouting.

![Sweet potato slips sprouting in water]

Planting and Care Tips

Follow these tips for robust sweet potato plants:

  • Choose a early-maturing, compact variety like ‘Beauregard’ or ‘Georgia Jets’.

  • Plant slips 12-18 inches apart in loose, well-draining soil.

  • Fertilize with a balanced organic fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.

  • Water 1-2 inches per week. Avoid wet leaves which can encourage disease.

  • Grow in full sun. Move bucket to maximize sunlight.

  • Once vines start spreading, guide them up trellising or let trail.

  • Harvest in fall before frost after 100-140 days.

Expected Yields Per 5 Gallon Bucket

With proper care you can expect approximately:

  • Vines up to 10+ feet long per plant.

  • An average of 3-5 tubers per slip.

  • An average tuber size of 4-8 ounces.

  • An estimated total harvest of 2-5 pounds per bucket.

The exact yield depends on variety, care, and growing conditions. But a pair of slips should produce a decent harvest from each 5 gallon container.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

  • Time harvest 2-3 weeks after vines start dying back.

  • Tip the bucket over and roll out potatoes. Don’t dig around with tools.

  • Cure in 80°F heat for 7-14 days to improve storage ability.

  • Store cured potatoes in a cool, dry place for 4-6 months.

![Harvested sweet potatoes]

Container Growing Troubleshooting

Issues you may encounter and how to address them:

Few or no tubers forming: Soil too dense or compacted. Amend soil with compost and perlite for better drainage.

Scraggly vines: Not enough nutrients or water. Fertilize and water correctly.

Leaves turning yellow: Too much water. Allow to dry out between waterings. Or not enough nutrients. Fertilize.

Rotting tubers: Overwatering. Check drainage and amend soil. Water less.

Pests: Manually remove insects. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil if needed.

Diseases: Improve air circulation. Keep leaves dry when watering. Apply organic anti-fungal spray.

Key Tips for 5 Gallon Sweet Potatoes

  • Plant just 2 slips per 5 gallon bucket for best results.

  • Use quality potting mix and fertilize regularly.

  • Guide vines upward or trail them. Avoid congestion.

  • Water deeply but infrequently. Don’t oversaturate soil.

  • Harvest carefully after vines die back and cure before storage.

With the right planting techniques and care, you can grow an abundant harvest of sweet potatoes in 5 gallon buckets even in small spaces.

When to Plant Sweet Potatoes

If you’re growing outside, you’ll want at least a 100 day long growing season to grow sweet potatoes. If you’re growing in buckets, of course, you can “extend” your growing season by starting them indoors.

You never want the soil your sweet potatoes grow in to go below 50 degrees. They will morph into inedible brown mush quickly below this level. So plant them after last frost, once the soil has warmed up. Check with your local agricultural extension to find the best planting dates for sweet potatoes in your area.

In the beginning, sweet potatoes grow slowly. But when the hot summer months come around, they grow like crazy.

A Heat Loving Tuber

Unlike conventional tubers like carrots and regular potatoes, sweet potatoes love the heat.

If you want your sweet potatoes to sprout, don’t store them below 50°F (10°C). If you do, they will quickly go bad and turn into mush. Make sure your sweet potatoes are stored at room temperature. I’ve also noticed that sweet potatoes kept in a plastic bag rot quicker. So remember – keep them warm and let them breathe.

In fact, sweet potatoes that are kept in cold storage may never sprout. Check to see if your grocery store does the same.

Heat is even more important to a sweet potato at harvest time. We’ll get into that more closer to the end of this article.

The first order of business with growing sweet potatoes is getting a nice crop of sweet potato slips. Place your single seed potato in a 5 gallon bucket of moist soil, tops exposed. This is your “slip nursery” – an intermediate step between your grocery store shelves and your garden plot.

As with anything planted in buckets, make sure to drill adequate drainage holes in the bottom.

Before long, your “slips” will start rocketing out of your sweet potato. Once the slips are ready to plant, this is what they should look like.

You want to pull these shoots out and transplant them in larger 20 gallon containers. In each 20 gallon bucket, plant 6 sweet potato slips.

For sweet potato slips planting best practices, watch this video from the great Rob Bob.

How To Grow Sweet Potatoes In A 5 Gallon Bucket! We did it!


How many potatoes should you plant in a 5 gallon bucket?

I added 2-3 into each bucket. You want a high yield, so 2 seed potatoes per 5 gallon bucket is perfect. Once you have them in the bucket, add about 2 more inches of soil to completely cover the potatoes.

Do sweet potatoes grow well in buckets?

Thankfully in a container, you are able to control the water and drainage as sweet potatoes want to remain moist, but with good draining soil so that rot does not occur.

How many sweet potatoes can you plant in a container?

That being said, a max of one plant per 5 gal container is your best bet, I say this because later on when the pepper or sweet potato plant grow large it will keep you pretty busy watering the plants.

How many sweet potatoes can you plant in a bucket?

The roots of your sweet potatoes need a lot of room to grow, so experts advise planting only 1 slip of sweet potato per 5-gallon bucket. However, keep in mind that one slip will result in between 5 and 10 potatoes at harvest time.

Can you grow sweet potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket?

In addition, when you grow sweet potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket, you can place your plants outside on warm sunny days and bring them indoors during cooler or less sunny days. Also when you grow sweet potatoes in a bucket or other containers indoors you can actually grow 2 or 3 crops per year. How Many Sweet Potatoes Can I Plant Per 5-Gallon Bucket?

How big should a sweet potato container be?

However, ensure that it leaves ample space for the sweet potato vines to spread out comfortably. A 36-inch wide and 12-inch deep container is a good starting point for growing sweet potatoes. Generally, the larger the container, the more room your sweet potatoes will have to grow and yield tubers.

How do you grow sweet potatoes in a container?

Master the art of container gardening with LED lights, coco coir, and simple steps for a bountiful harvest. To grow Sweet Potatoes in containers, select a large pot with good drainage and fill it with well-draining, loamy soil. Plant the sweet potato slips about 12 inches apart, and place the container in a sunny location.

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