Roots into Plants

In science class, you have learned how plants reproduce sexually, when male gametes combine with female gametes. But did you know that many plants can also reproduce asexually, from just one parent? In this activity, you and your family members will learn how you can use a sweet potato—which is the root section of the sweet potato plant—to generate a whole new plant.

Materials

A small plant growing from a sweet potato in a glass.

Procedure

Ask an adult to help you insert toothpicks into the sides of the potato, as shown in the picture. Place the sweet potato in a jar of water, with the pointed end down. The top ⅓ of the sweet potato should be exposed. Set the jar in front of a sunny window. Watch your plant grow. Each week, sketch or describe the potato in a notebook. In a few weeks, a vine with several stems will begin to sprout. The sweet potato plants can be transplanted outside in the spring to produce new sweet potatoes, which can be harvested and eaten in the fall.

Results

What part of the plant is a sweet potato? Were you able to grow a whole new plant from this part? Did the new plant have roots, stems, and leaves? Do you know of any other plants that can reproduce asexually, like the sweet potato plant? What do you think might be some benefits of producing plants asexually, rather than sexually?