Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 11, 2011

From: Duluth, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Starting a sweet potato in water in Duluth MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to start a sweet potato plant in water. I noticed 3 days after it's in water, there is white finger like(hairy) areas at the tip of the bottom of the potato and also on the sides. I have also noticed the same hairy substance in my good soil, I started as a hot bed for herbs. Can you help me??

ANSWER:

Ipomoea batata, sweet potato,  is related to native Ipomoea pandurata (Man of the earth) and other morning glory vines. The sweet potato itself is native to South America and therefore out of our area of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which the plants grow natively. While we cannot help you directly, since it is not in our Native Plant Database, we have found some websites that give instructions on sprouting the sweet potato. We found no mention of hairy substances, and are presuming that is some sort of beginning rootlet, but don't know for sure.

From Garden Web Forum How to Start a Sweet Potato Vine

Suite 101: Grow a Sweet Potato vine

 

More General Botany Questions

Is Devilsclub related to Gunnera?
March 09, 2009 - Is Devil's Club related to Gunnera?
view the full question and answer

Native North American bulbs
August 19, 2011 - I saw your list of 4 lilies native to the Northeastern United States, which was very helpful. What other bulbs are native to North America? Although I garden in Connecticut, I am interested in learn...
view the full question and answer

Century plant dying after bloom
August 12, 2007 - My century plant is so tall that it is up to the top of the telephone pole top lines that carry our streets electric. I was wanting to know if you knew if I cut the stock off would it save the plant ...
view the full question and answer

Where do snake herb and skeleton-leaf goldeneye get their names?
October 05, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Where does snake herb, and skeleton leaf goldeneye get their names from? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plant for science experiment from Kentfield CA
November 10, 2009 - What is a fast growing plant I should use for a science experiment?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.