Growing sweet potatoes is one of the easiest and most rewarding crops in our garden. The rapidly growing vines will quickly fill your garden while producing their delicious tubers below ground. The young leaves and shoots are also edible and can be a tasty treat as well.
Sweet potatoes are a staple in a southern garden. They thrive in poor clay soils and tolerate the heat like a champ. We added them to the long list of edibles in our gardens last year. We started out ordering a pack of 12 slips from Sow True Seed last winter and had a great harvest (you can read more about that here). We knew immediately that we wanted to grow A LOT more, and in true form, we decided that we needed to grow our own slips for transplanting into the garden.
how to grow sweet potato slips
- Organic sweet potatoes
- Containers for water
To grow your own sweet potato slips, start by getting an organic sweet potato. Non-organic sweet potatoes will likely be treated with chemicals that suppress new growth. Stick with organic, and if you can, get a locally grown sweet potato from a grower or farmers market where you might be able to get information about the variety. You want to get a locally adapted variety that does well in your neck of the woods. In our Georgia garden, we grow ‘Beauregard’ because it is very adaptable and is resistant to cracking.
Rather than purchasing a large amount of slips from a grower, we set aside sweet potatoes we harvested to use as seed for the next year. We ate the largest sweet potatoes and saved enough small and medium sized sweet potatoes to give us plenty of slips this year. Expect to get anywhere from 10-30 slips per sweet potato.
Larger sweet potatoes can be left whole or cut in half. We cut ours in half to fit our containers.
Place the sweet potatoes sliced side down in the container. Place any non-cut sweet potatoes in the container to hold the sweet potatoes upright so that more than half of the sweet potato can be up out of the water.
Fill the containers with water. Keep at least half of the sweet potato exposed out of the water. Set the container near a sunny window or under lights. Change the water every few days and replenish as it dries out. After a few weeks, your sweet potato vines should start budding out.
Many of the small slips will begin to grow roots over the next few weeks. Let the vines grow about 4-5 inches long. This will take 4- 6 weeks. Then, gently pinch or cut the small starts off the main sweet potato regardless of whether it has roots yet.
The sweet potato slips that have roots should get planted in potting soil. The slips that have not yet grown roots can be placed in a cup of water and placed with the rest of the growing sweet potatoes. They will quickly grow roots in about a week. The main sweet potato will continue to produce many slips over the next few weeks so keep coming back for more as they grow.
Once the slips have grown roots, plant them in potting soil. I use an entire tray of pots filled with soil adding the sweet potato slips as they are ready to plant.
Continue growing the slips in soil until it is time for planting. Sweet potatoes slips should be set out into the garden well after any threat of frost once the soil has warmed up.
Since we choose to stick with a plant based diet, sweet potatoes are often can’t wait to see our harvest. We use it in all kinds of dishes. Growing our sweet potato slips has given us many more starts in our garden. We are so excited that we will be eating up these sweet potatoes all fall and winter.