Starting Sweet Potato Slips

This year we have decide to grow as many of our favorite veggies as we can. Sweet potatoes is one of the veggies that everyone in our family loves. Starting sweet potato slips is a fairly simple way to add this family favorite to our garden.

Sweet potatoes take a long time to grow and like warm temperatures. For us here in New Hampshire, slips are the only way to grow them. Sweet potato slips are small sweet potato seed plants. They can be bought through mail order companies but starting them ourselves seems more cost effective. Here is how we started our sweet potato slips.

Sweet potato growing in a mason jar with slips still attached.
Sweet potato slips at 4 weeks.

What do you need to start sweet potato slips?

There are just a few materials needed to start sweet potato slips:

  1. An organic sweet potato – We bough ours from our local food coop here in town. You need an organic sweet potato because it has not been sprayed with anything that will deter the sweet potato from sprouting.
  2. A wide mouth glass jar – We used a wide mouth canning jar that we already owned. Wide mouth is best because the sweet potato needs to fit inside the jar.
  3. Large tooth picks We found that the larger toothpicks supported the weight of the sweet potato better than smaller toothpicks.
  4. Water – We just used plain old tap water. Some other gardeners may tell you to use distilled or water that has been purified. We decided that we would forgot the expensive water and take a risk with tap water.
  5. A sunny window – Sounds silly to put a potato in a sunny window since they grow underground, right? But really and truly you need a warm sunny window to trigger the sweet potato to start sprouting.

How to set up your sweet potato for growing slips.

So here is the super easy way to grow sweet potato slips. First you have to determine which end is up on the sweet potato. For us, we figured it out because we could see the part of the sweet potato that was the stem. We figured that the stem end must be the part that goes up.

Next, fill your wide mouth glass jar about half way up with water. Pierce the side of the sweet potato with the toothpick about half way in the middle. With the stem end up, place the sweet potato in the glass jar of water. The toothpicks should support the sweet potato in the water so that it is half in the water and half out of the water. Lastly, place your sweet potato jar in a warm sunny window.

Once the sprouts coming out of the sweet potato reach three to four inches, break them off from the mother sweet potato and put them in water. When you break the sprouts off make sure to do it close to the sweet potato. You will need a bit of stem for the roots to grow off of. Also, make sure that no leaves are touching the water. We used a short glass jar with a more narrow mouth to keep the leaves out of the water. In just a few days you will notice roots growing from the sprout you broke off of the mother plant. Those little plants are your sweet potato slips!

Purple sweet potato sitting in a glass jar of water.  Sprouts are just starting to grow.
Sweet potato jar sitting in our sunny living room window.

The Results?

So far our sweet potato slips are growing very well. As you can see from the photo gallery bellow, in just over six weeks we have a forest of sweet potato slips ready for planting. Now we won’t be putting them outside for another five weeks or so but by that time the slips will be much bigger.