sweet potato slips growing out of a Japanese sweet potato

Sweet Potato Slips: Everything you need to know to grow a robust crop this year

Sweet potatoes are a delicious and healthy side dish, but they can sometimes be hard to grow. 

It can be tricky to get sweet potato slips to sprout, and then you have to worry about the right soil temperature and how much water to give them.

We’re here to help make your sweet potato planting experience a success. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the different methods of sprouting slips, what parts of the sweet potato should be submerged in water, the temperature needs for soil, and how to actually remove sprouts from sweet potatoes. Plus, we’ll explore the benefits of using store-bought sweet potatoes, and provide tips on how to ensure a successful harvest at the end of the season.

What is a sweet potato slip?

A sweet potato slip is an offshoot of the sweet potato vine that can grow into its very own sweet potato plant. If you’ve ever left a sweet potato in the pantry too long, you’ve probably seen sweet potato slips growing wild. All of those little roots coming out of your forgotten sweet potato has the potential to become a slip and eventually turn into multiple sweet potatoes.

How do I get sweet potato slips?

Besides leaving your potatoes in the pantry too long (which we don’t recommend), you can either buy sweet potato slips from a local garden center or make your own. For the DIYers out there, we recommend starting with organic store-bought sweet potatoes. Make sure your store-bought potatoes are organic, though, because often, conventional sweet potatoes are sprayed with a chemical called chlorpropham to prevent sprouting.

Starting Sweet Potato Slips

There are two traditional methods for starting your sweet potato slips; in water and directly in the soil.

The Water Method

To root your sweet potato slips in water, suspend half the sweet potato in a jar of water using toothpicks. For the highest success rate, make sure that the sweet potato’s rooting end (the end with all those little sprouts) is submerged under water and facing down.

A sweet potato slip suspended in a jar of water by toothpicks with roots growing out of the top.

Once your sweet potatoes are securely suspended over water, you’ll want to place them in an area that’s warm, but not too hot. A temperature of around 80° F is ideal for sweet potato slips.

You should start to see sprouts shooting up after a few weeks. These sprouts are the sweet potato slips you’ll be transplanting into the soil once they reach 6-8 inches in length. You can also remove any slips that are shooting up from the sweet potato itself.

The Soil Method

If your sweet potatoes don’t want to sprout in water, you can always try planting them directly in the soil. To do this, cut the sweet potato lengthwise and place it on its side with the more pointed end facing down. Cover it loosely with the soil and keep the soil lightly moist. You should start to see sweet potato slips popping up in a few weeks.

Once your sweet potato slips reach 6-8 inches long, you’re ready to transplant them into your garden or grow bag. Make sure that you use loose, nutrient-rich soil for the best results.

Tips for Getting Sweet Potatoes to Sprout

Occasionally you’ll run into sweet potatoes that just won’t sprout, no matter what method you try. Here are a few tips to help sweet potatoes start sprouting:

• Make sure your sweet potato is organic – sweet potatoes treated with chemicals are more likely to be reluctant to sprout.

• Use the right soil temperature – sweet potato slips need warm temperatures to sprout (around 80°F). We suggest using a thermometer around the sprouting potatoes to make sure the temperature remains warm enough.

• Give them more time – sweet potatoes need several weeks to start sprouting, so make sure you have given them enough time before you start to worry.

• Don’t overwater – sweet potatoes don’t need a lot of water and can actually rot if they become too saturated. Keep the soil lightly moist instead.

Separating the sweet potato slips

Once sweet potato slips reach 6- 8 inches; it’s time to get ready for planting. You’ll want to prepare the sweet potatoes for transplanting by removing any sprouts that have grown from the sweet potato itself. Be careful not to damage the slips, as they are fragile and can easily break apart.

Then, choose a sunny spot in your garden or grow bag to plant your slips. Carefully remove each slip individually, and be sure to have your garden or grow bag prepared before separating them so you can plant them immediately, reducing the chance of accidentally damaging the slips.

Once planted, make sure you provide your sweet potato slip with plenty of water and loose soil for optimal growth.

What type of soil do sweet potatoes like?

Sweet potatoes prefer to grow in loose, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 6.0 – 6.5. If you have sandy soil, you’ll need to add some compost or other organic material to help sweet potatoes reach their full potential. Make sure that your sweet potatoes have at least 8-10 hours of sunshine each day and that the soil is kept moist but not soaked.

Harvesting Your Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are ready to be harvested after about ninety days from when the sweet potato slips were planted in the soil. Once sweet potatoes are ready, you’ll want to gently dig them up, being careful not to damage their delicate skins.

To dig your potatoes, you will need to gently loosen the earth using a garden fork or spade and lift sweet potatoes from the ground.

If you opted to use a potato grow bag instead, simply lift the access flap or tip the entire bag over to remove sweet potatoes.

Once harvested, gently brush the soil from the potatoes and store them in a cool place with temperatures between 50-60°F.

Can you grow sweet potatoes indoors?

Growing sweet potatoes indoors can prove to be challenging but not impossible.

To successfully grow sweet potatoes indoors, you will need a large container with good drainage, plenty of sunshine, and warm temperatures between 65-80°F. A sunroom would be an ideal location.

Make sure your sweet potato slips have enough space to spread out and provide plenty of water for maximum growth.

Sweet Potato Greens

Another benefit to growing sweet potatoes is their greens. If sweet potato slips are allowed to grow without being planted in soil, they will produce sweet potato greens which can be harvested and eaten like spinach.

These sweet potato greens have a strong earthy flavor and can be steamed or cooked into many recipes for a last-minute side dish!

Sweet potato greens are highly nutritious and can be harvested from sweet potato vines while they’re still growing.

To harvest sweet potato greens, simply clip the leaves off at their base with scissors or garden shears. Make sure not to take too many leaves becuase sweet potatoes need them for photosynthesis in order to grow strong tubers.

Common pests of sweet potato plants

Once your sweet potato slips are planted and growing, you should keep an eye out for any signs of infestations or pest activity.

Sweet potatoes can be susceptible to pests, such as sweet potato weevils, root-knot nematodes, and whiteflies.

If you notice any of these pests on your plants, it’s important to take immediate action to prevent damage to the plant by removing infected sweet potatoes and destroying them so they cannot spread. For sweet potato weevils, you can use an insecticide to control the problem. For root-knot nematodes, you can apply a soil drench or plow the infested areas.

If you see whiteflies, simply prune off infected leaves and dispose of them in an airtight bag or container.


Can you plant a whole sweet potato in the ground?

While you can technically plant a sweet potato whole in the ground, it is not recommended. Instead, sweet potatoes should be cut into slips or slices before planting to ensure maximum growth and harvest.

What’s the best way to store sweet potatoes?

To keep sweet potatoes fresh and crunchy, store them in a cool dry place with temperatures between 50-60°F. If possible, sweet potatoes should be stored in a dark place with good air circulation to prevent mold from growing on the sweet potato skins. Make sure to check sweet potatoes regularly for any signs of spoilage. If sweet potatoes start to soften or sprout, throw them away immediately.

Can sweet potatoes grow without soil?

Yes, sweet potatoes can grow without soil. In this case, sweet potato slips are allowed to grow in water until they produce sweet potato greens which can be eaten like spinach. Sweet potatoes will not produce tubers when grown in water but the sweet potato vines will still need to be supported and provided with plenty of sunlight and water for

How many slips will grow from each sweet potato?

Each sweet potato should produce anywhere from 8 to 10 slips, but it is impossible to know exactly how many you will get so be sure to have extra sweet potatoes on hand, just in case.

Final Thoughts

Growing sweet potato slips can be a rewarding endeavor, but it does require some patience and effort. By following the steps outlined in this article and taking into consideration factors such as temperature needs for soil, parts of sweet potatoes to submerge in water, common pests that might occur during the growth process, storing sweet potatoes correctly, and more – you should have no problem growing sweet potatoes successfully indoors or outdoors this season! With proper care and attention given to your sweet potato plants throughout their life cycle, you will likely end up with a delicious harvest at the end of the season. So get out there today and start planting those sweet potato slips!