Sweet Slips

Sweet Slips

Sweet potato slips are the easiest way to propogate sweet potatoes. They’re exciting because once you start growing sweet potatoes, you can have a never-ending supply. And, unlike seeds, there are no worries about crossing varieties and growing something that might be inedible.

So, what’s a slip? If you eat sweet potatoes, you might have seen the beginnings of one!

A sweet potato sprouting

Sweet potatoes naturally want to continue growing, so they’ll start sprouting after a while. We just want to encourage this process, making sure the root is convinced it can grow a new plant successfully.

Smaller potatoes (1-2 inches in diameter) seem to be best for making slips, and you’ll want to choose ones that haven’t been treated with anything (the best, of course, are the ones you grew yourself last year). And, guess what else we need? That’s right, light and water.

So, here’s how to grow some slips:

  1. Wash sweet potatoes (we store them in a box over winter at room temperature without washing them).
  2. Cut the potatoes into halves (we’ve also had success leaving small potatoes whole).
  3. Place the cut end of the potato into a jar of water, while keeping the uncut end above. Toothpicks can be used to help hold the potatoes in place.
  4. Store all your potatoes in a warm place with some light (maybe on shelves near a south-facing window).
  5. Sprouts should start to grow in about a week and should be ready in about 3 to 4 weeks. Once the sprouts are 5 to 6 inches long, remove the sprouts from the potato. To do this, grab the sprout near the potato and twist and pull sideways to remove it.
  6. Place the sprouts into a jar of clean water to allow roots to grow.
  7. After about 2 weeks, the roots should be about an inch long and the sprouts are now considered slips.
  8. Plant the slips in loose, well-drained soil, about 4 inches deep. Leave the green leaves above ground.
  9. Water well. For the first week, water daily. For the second week, water every other day.
A small sweet potato suspended with tooth picks in a jar of water

We grow our slips inside under grow lights, on window sills, and in the hoop greenhouse. Start them about 6 weeks before you plan to plant them in the ground. Plant them after the last frost but allow enough grow time to harvest them before the first frost (here in Culpeper, our first frost tends to be mid-October).

A pair of white and purple sweet potato flowers surrounded by leaves

Have fun getting your hands dirty and enjoying all the beautiful colors sweet potatoes have to offer!

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