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The sweet potato has been known for centuries, but only in recent years has it become increasingly popular with European gardeners. The reason for this is not only the use of the tuber, which is used for numerous dishes, but also the flower, which, although short-lived, is particularly picturesque. If you want to get the Ipomoea batatas or batata through the winter, you should use cuttings for the winter, as this is much easier.
Sweet potatoes are extremely sensitive Plants that prefer high temperatures and are in no way suitable for the German winter. The morning glory plant is already damaged at around 10 °C. Even with the right location, the plant quickly suffers from too little light in winter, weakens and is susceptible to diseases, fungi and pests. Cuttings have the advantage that you can grow several specimens from one plant and plant them in the bed next spring. Since sweet potatoes develop a lot of plant material, you will have large quantities of sweet potatoes available within a few years, which you can either plant out or keep in pots.
tip: An exception is the cultivar 'Indica', known for its beautiful flowers, which is the only one that can overwinter indoors. This is possible as long as you allow a constant temperature of over 10°C up to a maximum of 24°C and sufficient light via grow lights, and still come to terms with the fact that the sweet potato can die in a matter of days, especially over a particularly dark winter.
Overwinter sweet potatoes with cuttings
The most important thing about the preparation is getting the cuttings you need for the new plants. Since the batata itself does not take a winter break and is becoming weaker by the day, you must obtain offshoots from the mother plant early enough. The best time for this is late summer from mid to late August, as the plant still has sufficient strength. However, you can easily wait with the cuttings until you are greeted by the first frosts in your region. To obtain the sweet potato cuttings, do the following:
1. mother plant
Choose a healthy mother plant. She should not have had any problems with pests or diseases as this will result in non-germinating cuttings. It should also not suffer from a nutrient deficiency, as this also causes rotten cuttings.
Choose scissors that are sanitized and sharp. The reason for this is the health of the offshoots, which are more sensitive to disease vectors than the mother plant. This prevents viruses, bacteria or fungi from collecting at the interfaces and penetrating the plant material over the winter.
3. Separate cuttings
Select shoots ten to twenty centimeters long. The offshoots are cut off under the leaf axes, the nodes. Leaves will later form from the nodes, which are signs of successful germination over the cold season.
4. Clean cuttings
After you have separated the sweet potato cuttings, you must wash them thoroughly once. Remove any form of dirt as best you can and make sure that the interfaces in particular are clean. Then dry the offshoots well.
5. Remove leaves
Finally, remove the lowest leaves so that the offshoots begin to germinate and develop roots. If there were still leaves on the underside, this is not possible.
Immediately after preparing the cuttings, you must germinate them. There are two methods available to you that work equally well and promise great success. Batata cuttings are very growing, especially if the necessary requirements for germination are allowed. With either method, new roots should form within a few days. If not, germination didn't work and you'll have to start all over again. Don't worry if leaves fall during germination. This is completely normal.
Cultivation trays are particularly suitable for seedlings. As an alternative to the seed tray, you can choose pots. Proceed as follows:
- choose classic potting soil as substrate
- Place 1 cutting per pot in the substrate
- the leafless side goes into the soil first
- Temperature: 20°C - 25°C
- Mini greenhouse is ideal for growing
- alternatively cover pots or seed trays with cling film
- air regularly
- keep sufficiently moist
For the method, you will need a jar that will fit the sweet potato cutting and water. The following steps explain the procedure:
- Fill the water glass with slightly warm water
- Place the cuttings in the water glass
- Leaves must not touch water
- place in a bright place out of direct sunlight
- change water regularly
Make sure that the sweet potato cuttings are never too cold. The warmer the location, the better the young sweet potato will germinate and you will have a better chance of rooting.
tip: You can easily use the old water to water other plants.
The actual overwintering of batata depends on several factors. You can choose to keep the plant in either a vase filled with water or a pot over the winter. No matter which variant you choose, the sweet potatoes will sprout so vigorously in the first two months that they can be planted in the bed in late spring after the ice saints. If you have chosen a sweet potato variety that produces beautiful flowers, you can of course continue to keep them in a pot or vase. From late summer, the whole work starts all over again.
Overwinter in pots
Overwintering in a flower pot is no problem. For this you only need a larger vessel than the growing vessel and potting soil. This does not have to be of high quality, but a better substrate has a positive effect on growth. Follow these instructions:
- Fill pots with potting soil
- after rooting, transplant offshoots into these containers
- Location: bright and warm
- no direct sunlight
- Window sills are particularly suitable
- Keep substrate slightly moist throughout winter
- watch out for waterlogging
- fertilize normally from March
Overwinter in a water bath
When overwintering in a water bath, transport the cuttings to a larger vase after the roots have formed. You will need to change the water at regular intervals throughout the winter to keep slime from forming. Likewise, too much water must not evaporate so that the roots are not covered. If this is the case, the young plant can dry up within a short time because it only absorbs water through the roots. A warm, bright place on the window sill that is protected from direct sunlight is also chosen as the location.