Sweet potatoes aren’t grown from a seed – they are grown from slips. A slip is a rooted sprout from a mature sweet potato. You can order sweet potato slips online or you can grow your own. If you’re wondering how to grow sweet potato slips, you’ve come to the right place.
How to grow sweet potato slips
There are a few methods for growing sweet potato slips. I’m sharing two successful methods I’ve used.
1. The traditional method of suspending the sweet potato in water. This method works, but takes a month (or more) to produce slips.
2. The soil method of making sweet potato slips. In my experience this method is a much faster way to make sweet potato slips.
The first step for both methods is to choose a healthy sweet potato – preferably organic. Do you have a sweet potato beginning to sprout in the cupboard? Perfect! Now you have a head start in whichever method for sprouting sweet potato slips you choose.
Traditional "water method" of making sweet potato slips
Suspend half the sweet potato in a jar of water using toothpicks.
Does it matter which half of the potato is submerged in water when making sweet potato slips? Yes, the rooting end should go in the water. Here are a few ways to determine the difference between the rooting end and the sprouting end:
- Look for small thin roots on one end. This is the rooting end.
- One end may be larger with more eyes. This is the sprouting end.
- The end of the sweet potato that tapers is typically the rooting end.
You want the bottom (rooting) half to be immersed in water and the top (sprouting) half above the jar. Roots will form in the water, and sprouts will form in the top part of the potato.
Keep the water level up in the jar and keep water fresh by replacing it every week or so. Within a few weeks, roots will develop first and then sprouts will start to form on the suspended potato. Once several 5-6 inch sprouts have formed, see the rest of the directions below.
Faster "soil method" of making sweet potato slips
In about a week, if you wiggle the sweet potato you will feel that roots are forming in the soil. Within another week or two, small sprouts will begin to grow from top of sweet potato. Once several sprouts have grown to 5-6 inches long, you are ready for the next step.
Whichever method you choose for making sweet potato slips (the water method or the soil method), the next steps are the same:
- When sprouts are about 5-6 inches tall, remove sprouts from sweet potato by carefully twisting off or cutting off at soil level.
- Remove lower leaves from sprouts and let “root” in a jar of water. Roots will develop quickly; you should begin to see roots in 1-2 days.
- Placing jar on a seed germination mat for warmth and under a grow light will speed up the process of developing roots.
- Keep the water level high in the jar. Switch out the water about once a week to keep water fresh. Discard wilted or rotten slips.
- Once roots are fully formed and several inches long, it’s time to plant.
- Plant rooted sweet potato slips about 12-18 inches apart and 4 inches deep.
- Water newly-planted slips well and feed with a starter solution high in phosphorus to ensure the plants continue rooting.
One sweet potato will produce a dozen or more sprouts. Allow sweet potato to continue rooting and producing slips until you have as many as you (and your neighbors) need.