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A Fast and Easy Way to Make Sweet Potato Slips

How to make sweet potato slips

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.

Begin the process about 8-12 weeks before your planting date for sweet potatoes. Here in the low desert of Arizona our planting window for sweet potatoes is from March – June.

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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 often takes a 6-8 weeks (or more) to produce slips.

How to make sweet potato slips2. The soil method of making sweet potato slips. In my experience this method is a much faster way to make sweet potato slips. This method usually takes around 4-6 weeks. 

How to make sweet potato slips

The first step for both methods is to choose a healthy organic sweet potato. Organic potatoes are less likely to be treated with a sprout inhibitor. 

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

Once you’ve planted your sweet potato slips, read this article to learn how to grow sweet potatoes.

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. 

Providing warmth (a seedling warming mat or on top of the refrigerator) and light (a grow light or sunny window) will speed up the process considerably

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.Once you’ve planted your sweet potato slips, read this article to learn how to grow sweet potatoes.

Faster “soil method” of making sweet potato slips


  • Poke holes in the bottom of a foil pan
  • Fill foil pan with potting soil or seed starting mix.
  • Moisten soil. 
  • Nestle sweet potatoes in soil, covering about half the potato with soil.
  • Place the lid under the pan to catch any excess water coming out the holes.
  • Keep soil moist as roots and sprouts form.

Once again, providing warmth (a seedling warming mat or on top of the refrigerator) and light (a grow light or sunny window) will speed up the process considerably

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.

Once you’ve grown sweet potato slips learn how to grow sweet potatoes in this blogpost. How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

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Monday 20th of June 2022

Hi - I "topped" a sweet potato by cutting off the part with several sprouts on it. I ate the potato. I put the top with sprouts in the sink (side I don't use) & have sprinkled water on it here & there. The orange "top" is sprouting roots. Can I plant sections of that top with the sprouts rather than just cutting off the sprouts, thereby utilizing those roots? If so, how long do those roots need to be, before doing so? The sprouts are beginning to make leaves as well.

Tina Leonard

Sunday 20th of November 2022

@Melanie, I did the exact same thing as you did. I cut the part of the potato that was sprouting and put it in a shallow dish with toothpicks suspending it in the water. It grew leaves and then roots grew from the bottom. I have planted them in a large indoor pot and placed it in my south facing window in my living room. I live in Wisconsin and thought I’d try growing sweet potatoes indoors through the winter. They are growing like crazy! I’m praying for success and by the looks of all the vines, I believe it will be a great harvest!

Angela Judd

Thursday 30th of June 2022

It's best to have a rooted slip, but you could always give it a try.

Minister Marc C.

Tuesday 14th of June 2022

Hello ! I have around 600 or so (purple) sweet potato 'seeds'. I plan on planting them in raised containers in the garden. I do NOT have 'slips' ! I have seeds. Is there anything special I need to do with these seeds, in order to have a successful harvest? This is my first venture into growing sweet potato's? Thank you in advance!!

Angela Judd

Tuesday 14th of June 2022

I haven't ever grown them from seed. I'm not sure of the process. Please let me know how it goes.


Thursday 19th of May 2022

I started my sweet potato in water and I have a couple of leaves that are dropping. It looks really sad.

Angela Judd

Saturday 21st of May 2022

Change out the water - make sure it's getting enough light.

Christina Abrams

Monday 14th of March 2022

Yes, I am excited to start growing the purple sweet potato slips, thank you for showing both ways in jars or in soil. I will be putting mine in the window.

Angela Judd

Tuesday 15th of March 2022



Sunday 3rd of October 2021

My Japanese sweet potato’s are growing purple flowers on the top. Happened quickly. The two I have in the pan soil method are doing nothing. Any advice I’m in sunny South Florida I’ve done the water method before and actually got the slips from the bottom of the potato. Plenty of sunshine and rain water Help!

Angela Judd

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Hmmm - not sure. I'd try again with different potatoes. Maybe they were treated with sprouting inhibitors.