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.

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

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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 takes a month (or more) to produce slips. 

How to make sweet potato 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

How 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

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

How to make sweet potato slips
How to make 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 on top of foil pan lid for drainage.
  • 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.

How to make sweet potato slips
How to make sweet potato slips

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.
How to make sweet potato slips
How to make sweet potato slips
How to make sweet potato slips
How to make sweet potato slips

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 planted your sweet potato slips, read this article to learn how to grow sweet potatoes.

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How to make sweet potato slips
How to make sweet potato slips
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4 comments on “A Fast and Easy Way to Make Sweet Potato Slips”

  1. Hi! Thank you for the tutorial! I am starting sweet potatoes for the first time this year, and they look healthy, but I have a question. I put the tapered end of the sweet potato, which was showing little roots already, down into the water and suspended the tuber with toothpicks. More roots showed up at the bottom and a few slips showed up above the water line. However, most of the slips grew up from beneath the water line, with the roots. Is that normal? Are the slips that grew up from underwater just as usable as the ones growing above the waterline? Did I have the potato upside down? What should I do about all that? Thanks for your help.

    • Glad it’s working. Yep, any of the slips are fine to use. If they already have roots, even better. Best of luck to you.

  2. Thank you SO MUCH for this wonderfully well written and illustrated guide!

    Question: I have a sweet potato vine, purchased as an ornamental (I eat the leaves in salads). I harvested the leaves nearer the dirt level, leaving a barren space on the stalk of About 6 inches – so I pulled it up, including the root, and placed it in water – covering the 6” of stalk. I’m happy to report the stalk has re-rooted. I now have about 6 inches of stalk with roots. Can I plant this rooted stalk horizontally? And are there pros/cons to planting the stalk horizontally vs vertically? Thank you again for your expert help!

    • You can plant either way. Sweet potato vine is one of those plants that is so hardy it will root wherever it can. Deeper roots will need watered less often than roots along the top that are more shallow, but either way would work fine.

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