sweet potato slips..how to start?

anniew(4-5/PA)March 12, 2004

I want to try some sweet potatoes this spring, and want to start slips from potatoes from the store. How do I do it? In water like an avocado, in soil, or just on top of the soil?

Thank you,


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tbolt76(Z7-8 NC)

Cover the potatoes in a flat with soilless mix and keep moist and warm, probably 80 degrees and in the light. You should start getting sprouts growing and when you do just cut them off, plant in moist soil in a pot, and wait for roots to develop. Also, try this link.....In NC, farmers don't plant until May when the daytime highs are in the upper 70's to 80's......

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Georgia Commercial Sweet potato production

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 9:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thanks, tbolt76.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 8:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, my mother in Ohio used to just stick sweet potatoes in canning jars full of water, with maybe the bottom third in the water. When they sent out sprouts, she'd let them get about 6 - 8" long and then snap those off and stick them in another jar of water. When those grew roots, they were ready to plant. (She knew when to start them to have the plants ready in time to plant.) When she had as many sprouts as she wanted, she'd just let any sprouts remaining on the potatoes continue to grow and let them vine all over the kitchen windows. Nice late winter greenery.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2004 at 10:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Harold do you remeber when she planted em?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
flowermanoat(Z9, Central.CA)

I've been planting them both today and yesterday. I put stroe tubers near the bottom of a 5 gallon nursery can and cover them with soil. In time, numerous shoots emerge and when they are over a foot long, I cut them back halfway with a hedge shear. Then the root and soil ball is removed from the can and the shoots with roots are pulled of and planted. The potato and soil are then put back for another generation to grow. This can probably continue until the remaining growing season gets too short.

Best wishes,

John Warner
Madera Whole System Agriculture near Fresno, CA
No tractor, no tillage market grower since 1996

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 11:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jimihendrix(5b Ont.)

I grew Sweet potatos in Ontario i started them in Jan 07 2004 from two Sweet Potato`s i bought from the farmers market. Started them in a Canning Jar of water with toothpicks it took about a month before i got roots and then transplanted to pots one plant died and the other produced 9 slips about 2ft long then root these slips in water and about a month before my slips produced roots.I was careful to harden off the slips good. Then took the slips to plant in the comunitie garden in late May. I used peat to mix with the soil and planted the slips one slip died and the others where ok. It took a long time before the slips took off i think they grow first underground. When the leaves finally took off i had to remove my pea plants to make room they where about three ft. wide full of leaves and choked out most of the weeds. It was very rainy and kinda cold this year i had a good crop of Sweet Potato`s. The 8 slips that lived produced a decent yeald and i will try to grow them next year. I dug up my crop in the middle of Sept. Store the Sweet potato`s at room temp. and they do not require refridgeration as that will ruin them. "Happy Gardening"

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 1:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

The glass jars and water work very well. You have to remove the shoots and place them in shallower containers of water to root them.

Also you can plant the whole potatoes on their side....barely covered like the big growers. However in the north they have to have extra heat to get middle of May rooted slips. I cover each potato with a plastic cloche. They really respond to that in mid April plantings.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2004 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

While this is just my creative side coming out,
here's how I grow slips:

I line plastic cups in a row on a shelf in
my greenhouse. Using the smallest sweet potatoes I
can find in the store, I simply stand one up in each
cup, adding enough water to cover the bottom third of
the 'tater.

Making sure to keep the bottoms submersed in water, a few
weeks later I have nice sprouts which can be broken
from the mother 'tater and inserted into a glass vial.
The vials I prefer are 4 dram / 1/2 ounce bottles.

Why use vials? Well, for one, they're fun!

They allow for several inches of rooting while
containing them in a tubular shape. When spring
planting time arrives,
you'll have a very nice, well-rooted plug that slips into
the ground with the mere poke of a stick in the soil.

Just cut a thick branch slightly larger than the
circumference of your vials, about a foot long or even
longer if you want to poke holes while standing up.
Mark on the stick the depth you will plant them
by using masking tape so it will be easily seen.
You can easily judge how deep to plant by viewing
the vials. Look at all those roots!

Just push the stick into the soil up to the masking
tape mark and wa-la. You have nice holes into which your
slips will...well, slip. :-)

Since I grow many of these slips each year, I had
to better organize my vials, so here's another trick:

Using a 2 x 4 (mine is 30" long, use a pencil and a
ruler or straight edge to divide the board into
nice even square sections of approximately 1 1/2" x 1 1/2".
Use a drill bit slightly larger than the circumference
of your vials and drill into the center of each section
you've marked off. Basically what you are doing is
drilling a sitting spot for the vials...they don't have
to be inserted all the way into the wood, just enough
to help them stand straight, about 1/2" deep is great.
This allows you to move all the slips at once,
monitor growth, keep an eye on the water level and
move the board around if necessary.

You can even sand and / or paint the board after drilling
your holes.

My 30" 2 x 4 safely holds 40 slip vials at a time.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Susan Levy

Hum i got seeds from a friend . I have tiny plants not roots everyone talking about. So tell me what my chances are the plants growing sweet potatoes :O()

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 6:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

well around here we just built a box without a bottom out of tin then filled it with rotting sawdust from the local sawmill and bury our sweet potatoes a foot down in it water them once and let them come up on their own... we usually plant a half bushel of small potatoes and get from them about 3-4000 slips ready for planting.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 3:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


How long before you want to plant the slips do you start the taters

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 1:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

we usually put them in around the last of march

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
chrmann(z7 AL)

I've grown sweet potato slips for years and had good luck growing big sweet potatoes.

To grow slips: I insert toothpicks on 4 sides around the center of each potato about quarter-way into the potato. I then put each potato in a glass with water going about half-way up the jar. The potatoes rest on the toothpicks unto the jar edge. I usually start the potatoes the end of January until the end of February. It takes a few weeks for the slips to start sprouting from the potatoes. Once the slips are about 6 inches tall, I remove them from the Mother plant and put them in another jar with water. I keep adding slips to the jars until I either have enough plants or it's time to plant. I usually keep my potatoes in the jars and keep sprouting some more plants as a back up plan in case I need more plants. Sometimes I have a few die. Sweet Potatoes grow off fairly quick, I plant the slips in May (they like the weather to be pretty warm) when I plant okra. I plant in raised beds setting the pants a foot apart. I water the plants real good. Once we have a good rain, I mulch the raised beds about 4 - 6 inches deep. Then I forget about them until I dig the potatoes. They are an easy crop to grow.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Probably have enough to plant with all the seeds I bought but we eat a lot of sweet potatoes. Can I grow the ones from the grocery store up here so I don't have to buy slips? And what IS a slip?? A long sprout/eye coming off the potato? Do you root them in a glass of water like a tomato cutting?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 4:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've never seen sweet potato seeds.

Some of the stores are most likely treated with a anti-sprouting agent, so it will be harder.

You are right about what a slip is, and they will have a small amount of the mother, then you put them in water just like any other plant.

Where I'm at, you ONLY plant slips due to the growing period, 100 days or more (If I remember right).

Make sure you have a place to plant them that you can dig deep, and have lots of spreading room. I planted some a few years ago, and felt like I needed a backhoe to dig them.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 8:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Can you plant them in hills - I mean literally? I have 3 huge piles of topsoil I don't know if we'll have time to spread this year.

Also, will they tolerate acid soil? I have to get that topsoil tested, my dad swears he took some from that same spot a few years ago for his garden and things grow fine, he never limed or fertilized it (I find that hard to believe since he limes everything out of habit, never tests). But our soil here tends to be acid - in 4's and low 5's, and with all the precipitation last year it's probably gotten more acid - have to go check, about time to start thinking of liming the fields now but the piles will have to wait til we spread.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 2:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't know about the pH and sweet potatoes. Did find out about those seeds and it sounds to me like it would take forever. I think you'll be better off with slips instead of seeds.

Hills should work great, the soil is heat up faster in the hills and that's what they need.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 4:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0 is satisfactory according to the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide so your slightly acidic soil should be OK. Hills work well - the deeper the loose soil under the plants the better the tubers grow.

Here is a link that might be useful: MVPG Sweet Potatoes

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the link - the UGA one was too old, didn't work. I'll have to get the pH tested - we've got to lime to get in the mid-5's here. But I certainly do have lots of deep loose sandy soil!

Gotta find some slips now, we don't plant tender annuals here til Memorial Day, figure slips will probably be the same (or later, since I don't mind digging them a bit later).

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 6:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sweet potatoes definatly need to be planted after the danger of frost has passed. Not sure where you are looking for your slips but we order ours from Steele. They are great people and we have always been very happy with their slips. We ususally plant Centennials and Beauregards.


Here is a link that might be useful: Steele Plant Company

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 10:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh thanks for the Steele link, I had misplaced it but a friend in MI buys from them, she said Georgia Jet grew really well for her, Beauregard not so much and Nancy Hall keeled over and died.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 9:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ajsmama, during the Southern Il conference that I went to, they talked about sweet potatoes and varieties, when I get home and arrange my notes, I'll email or post it for you.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 10:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I did as people suggested above with the toothpick-water thing, and I have a few slips that look like they're going to work. (Sweet potatoes are expensive and hard to find in my country, so I want to make the most of each slip.)

I'm concerned about the planting, though. I have about 25 slips growing out of 3 potatoes and two more potatoes with roots but no shoots. So ...

1. How big should the shoots be before I plant them?

2. How do I actually "snap them off" - I'm not a gardener, and it just sounds wrong to snap off the cuttings without keeping them attached to the roots that they've developed. Should I try to cut the potato so that there's a root for each slip, or what? I don't want to just plant the whole potato with its own slips and roots - I assume that if I did that, I would only get three plants, or possible more but growing too close together and impossible to separate.

3. Finally, there's the kind of soil that they like. Should they be planted near the olive trees - dry sandy soil - or with the peppers?


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 3:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I haven't grown them for years, easier to buy, but I'll try to answer.

1. wait til 6" or when your temperatures are warm over the night. If you want, you can transplant the slip into a pot of soil first, then transplant outside.

2. when you break them off, you will be having the roots (they are attached to the lower part of slip, plus a little of the sweet potato

3. dry sandy soil, they will love the ground, just be sure that they get watered regularly. Keep in mind their roots will expand quite a distance, along with their vines. We don't have olive trees near me, but I have heard anything negative about olives.

Good luck.

BTW, you can grow them in BIG barrels of dirt, also. When ready to harvest, tip over the barrel, and harvest the potatoes. But with any container plant, the harvest will not be as large, just more confined.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 9:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thank you!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 6:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Using this old thread to ask another question,

I Have 8 organic sweet potatoes laying in a tub of water with bottom heat. They are on a shelf on a south facing window.
The sun gets high so fast now that the overall hours of light are not good because the eves and higher shelves block the sun. Should I put them under florescent lights or maybe in the heated cold frame? What are the pro's and con's ? Also, should the water be changed or just topped off?


    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would actually keep them out of direct sunlight (but in a bright location) until they have sprouted. After that, fluorescent light plus some sun should be sufficient until they've been planted.
I usually top the water off unless it smells bad or turns a weird colour.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks! I have it set up like in the picture now. It's a south facing window with shelves and lights. They have just started sprouting.

It's set up like a double boiler with an aquarium heater in the bottom tote. Water temp is 80F, could that be too hot? This is our warmest room, so the air temp/ water temp/ light mixture is not a huge mismatch at anytime. I know that can cause problems

I'll follow your guidelines on the water changing.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 1:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

80 degrees is perfect. Sometimes mine gets up to 90 degrees and the SPs are fine although they grow too fast and get leggy.

To minimize transplant shock, I sometimes plant the slips into 3" pots with moist potting mix and cover with a humidity dome. They root within a week. Then I transplant them, rootball and all, outside when it's warm enough.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 3:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks again, if this works it seems they should be right on time for sometime in June.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 4:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The sweet potatoes are rotting . Is it safe to say the this is not good? Is it time to toss them?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 3:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeah, if they rot i think you need to toss them. Every year i've tried to grow slips all my tubers rotted out. I think it's because i bought organic and they weren't that fresh. This year i bought sweet potatoes from 3 separate markets and all rotted out except for potatoes from one market. These were still organic but apparently fresher than the others, which rotted right away. A few from this third source rotted, but most did very well. Now i see how easy it is to grow slips, i've got about 60, and unless i really mess up i should have my target of 100 slips by the time i'm ready to plant.

I planted tubers horizontally in seed starter mix, covered about halfway with soil. I had them on a heat mat when it was cold and keep the soil mix damp. I have them under a light and when the slips are 6-12 inches i snip them off and put in water to root, then i put the slips in trays, in seed starter mix. I'm holding them like that until i'm ready to plant.

It really irritated me the last few years that i couldn't grow slips. Everyone always says how easy it is, and i think it is, so long as your potatoes are fresh to begin with, and you give them enough heat and light. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 7:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

helpful comments , mdfarmer. This is my first time with sweet potatoes. I have a few with the glass and water that were started earlier from a different store, not even organic and I am getting slips from them. There are some of the new batch done like that and they are not rotting. The ones horizontal in the tub are mostly rotting. I got those organic from Costco just a little while ago. Rotted fast.

I'll try the seed starter mix instead of the water bath with some more...

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 10:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Mine are really starting to push up lots of slips. I hope they will produce as many as I need.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 2:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That would be plenty for me , Jay!
Did you start them in that tunnel?
What kinds of temps are they growing through at night now?

Do you have holes in the bottom of the totes, or are you just careful with the water?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

They were started in the house. I kept back some of the best looking sweet potatoes from the most productive hills last fall. I kept them as close to the optimal temps as possible. By spring, the start to sprout on their own. Around early to mid April, I put a layer of potatoes in the bottom of these tubs, then I cover with potting mix and dump a 1/2 gallon of warm water all over to wet the mix and set them in a warm place, my germination chamber, or near to it. They start to sprout and push up more and more. When the temps even out, I take them out to the hoop building to grow, get more sun and sprout more. I just keep the mix moist. This week the temps are in the mid 80s for highs and 60's for lows. No holes in the bottom of the tub. I am just careful with water and I have never had any rot before.

It is really simple. I also sell the slips at my market booth. I usually just take the slips, root them and put them in another tub or just take that whole tub. When someone buys some, either pull them up or pull out of the ground, put in a moist paper towel and put the towel and root ends into a plastic bag to stay moist.

I will have 4 varieties to grow and for sale this year.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jrslick, did you start with specific varieties of sweet potatoes? I started with Japanese and orange/beauregard types that I bought at the grocery store, and I hope that both are varieties that have short enough growing seasons that they will mature before frost here in Maryland.

When I looked into buying slips online, I saw that there were a number of sweet potato varieties that require a longer growing season than I have here. I'm just going to see how it goes with the two types that I was able to find.

Also, do you keep your harvested potatoes in a cellar or something over winter? Do they keep pretty well?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I purchased my named slips from a reputable supplier every 2 years and keep back some of the sweet potatoes from the best looking and most productive hills. I will buy some slips next year to keep back my "new seed" potatoes for the following spring. This way I am trying to eliminate the opportunity for disease. Next year will be year three of this project.

We store them in our basement, as close to the optimal conditions as possible. Some varieties store better than others. We ate some purple ones this week for supper. They were small and started to sprout, but they tasted just fine.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So, I have a few plants that were started in water until they had roots and put into 4" pots. They are doing well but I am wondering how to wean them off of water?

How should I water them, how moist should they be, until they go in the garden and after?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:52PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Selling Tomato Plants?
We have a small produce farm, and we sell everything...
Turnip Greens
There are always people asking about turnips greens...
jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)
2 monthes of houzzy
In less than 2 months since houzzy took over garden...
Tomatoes looking good!
I went "all in" and planted my big tomatoes...
jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)
The new season has started
First planting of carrots are planted. Sorry the picture...
jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)
Sponsored Products
Hydro Systems Jetted Bathtubs Napa 6 ft. Air Bath Tub in Biscuit NAP7236ATAB
Home Depot
Piyo Piyo Feeding Set I - AMEA052
$39.95 | Hayneedle
Lyster Square 28" Wide Oil-Rubbed Bronze Chandelier
Lamps Plus
Ikat Stone Universal Bench
$189.99 | zulily
Yoga Direct Purple Yoga Mat - YM14-PURPLE
$23.24 | Hayneedle
Heavy Pendant by Decode
$454.00 | Lumens
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™