If you grow sweet potatoes, then you know how fast their vines can wildly take over your gardening space. But that could be considered a good thing, because not only are sweet potato tubers edible, but the entire plant is too! Plus, they can be fed to livestock such as chickens, hogs, cattle, goats, etc. It's important to note that the vine and leaves are toxic to cats and dogs when ingested. However, cats and dogs can eat sweet potato tubers once they've been cooked.
Nutrients in Sweet Potato Leaves:
The leaves of the sweet potato plant are loaded with nutrition; they contain niacin, vitamins B6, B2, B1, C, and E, pantothenic acid, beta-carotene, and biotin. The leaves also contain more riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin C than the sweet potato itself.
Preparing Sweet Potato Greens
Sweet potato greens taste very similar to other popular greens that you may already eat, such as mustard, turnip, spinach, and dandelion greens. The smaller leaves are milder in flavor than the larger leaves, but all of them can be eaten in various ways.
To prepare them, cut as many of the leaves and stems off the plant as you'll want to prepare. Then thoroughly wash them under cold, running water.
The leaves and stems can be eaten uncooked in salads, on sandwiches, or just by themselves after they have been freshly picked and washed well.
Sweet potato leaves and their stems can be steamed, sautéed with onions and garlic, and cooked just like any other leafy green.
Propagating New Sweet Potato Plants
It's extremely easy to grow sweet potato plants from slips. Once the vines become unruly, just snip them off and place the cuttings in a jar of water. They will begin to root within a couple of days. Allow the roots to grow an inch to two inches long, and then transfer them to a container of soil. Water the plants as needed.
If you don't want to start new sweet potato plants in a jar of water, the cuttings can also be planted directly in the soil. From there, they will also take root.
Continue to propagate the stems as each plant matures and you'll be able to keep a constant supply of fresh greens.
Keep the plants in a warm area with good lighting, and they'll continue to grow throughout the year. Water the plants as needed.
I prefer planting my sweet potato plants in larger containers once the slips have rooted so that they can be kept inside during the winter.
Nguyen, H.C. et al. (2021) Bioactive compounds, antioxidants, and health benefits of sweet potato leaves, Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8038024/#:~:text=Leaves%20of%20sweet%20potato%20hold,vitamins%20B2%2C%20C%2C%20E%2C (Accessed: 14 September 2023).