How to Grow Sweet Potato Slips Like a Pro

Growing your own slips from sweet potatoes is a rewarding project so easy anyone can do it. Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes do not have eyes that grow into new plants. Skins contain fine roots, just like beets and carrots, that can be coaxed into producing slips which are sweet potato seedlings that produce a crop.

Slips can be started from store bought sweet potatoes or from one saved from a previous year’s crop. When using a purchased potato look for an organic variety less likely to have been treated with a sprout inhibitor, Sweet potatoes sold in groceries are often labeled as yams but the two are quite different. It’s important to choose the right one for starting your own sweet potato crop.

Sweet potatoes root prolifically and slips are started indoors in water or soil or outdoors directly in the garden. Read more here about how to grow your own slips at home for perfect crops every time.

When to Start Sweet Potato Slips

Sweet potatoes are a warm weather crop. Air and soil temperatures need to reach 60°F before transplanting slips into the garden. They can be grown indoors year round but whether you start in water or soil determines how much time to allow for a viable transplant.

Allow six to seven weeks using the water method and four to six weeks starting in soil. Planting out too early exposes the delicate vines to cold damage.


Plant sweet potato slips in the garden 12 to 18 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart. In hot, sunny weather, protect new transplants with row cover or overturned pots to discourage wilting and dieback.

How to Grow Sweet Potato Slips in Garden Soil

Sweet potatoes require a long, warm growing season of 85 to 120 days from planting out to harvest. Starting slips directly in the garden takes four to six weeks and is a method limited to climates with these conditions. Follow these steps:

  1. Wait until garden soil reaches 65°F.
  2. Bury the rooting (tapered) end of a mature sweet potato in garden soil to cover the bottom half.
  3. Roots begin to form in one to two weeks. Give the potato a gentle tug to check for resistance.
  4. Once roots form the top half of the potato above ground begins to send up green shoots with leaves.
  5. When shoots (slips) are 4 to 5 inches long remove them by gently twisting or cutting off at the base.
  6. Remove bottom leaves and place slips in a clear glass jar of clean water to cover one or two leaf nodes. Roots form quickly in a day or two.
  7. Once a viable root system has established, transplant into the garden.


A drawback to growing slips in soil both indoors and in the garden is the potential for rot. Mature potatoes rot quickly if buried too deep, the rooting end is damaged, or soil is too moist. If your sprouting potato rots it has to be discarded and you’ll need to start from the beginning with a fresh potato.

How to Grow Sweet Potato Slips in Soil Indoors

This method is similar to growing slips directly in the garden but you’ll need to provide adequate heat and light. Adding some bottom warmth produces good results. Follow these steps:

  1. Punch holes in a seed starting flat or a large aluminum roasting pan.
  2. Set the container on a tray sufficient to catch water run-off and fill it with moistened potting soil or seed starting mix.
  3. Lay several mature potatoes length-ways into the soil so that it reaches about halfway up the sides of the potato.
  4. Place the container in a warm location that receives plenty of sun and keep soil evenly moist. Use a grow light if necessary.
  5. Roots start to form in about a week. Within another week or two sprouts appear above the soil.
  6. When slips are 4 to 5 inches long gently pull or cut them off at the base. If they have roots attached, transplant them directly into the garden.
  7. If no roots are present, place slips in a jar of water for several days until a viable set of roots is established.

How to Grow Sweet Potato Slips in Water

Growing slips in water is the traditional method used most often. It requires nothing more than a clear glass of clean water, a potato, a couple of toothpicks and a sunny window. Follow these steps:

  1. Fill a clear glass halfway with clean water.
  2. Suspend the rooting (tapered) end of the sweet potato in water using toothpicks to hold it in place.
  3. Refresh water weekly or more often if needed. Roots begin to form underwater in several weeks followed by sprouts above water.
  4. When sprouts are 4 to 5 inches long remove and place them in a glass of fresh water. They begin to put out roots in one or two days.
  5. Once a good root system establishes, transplant slips into the garden.


sweet potatoes continue to produce slips for a period of time depending on size. After removing the first set of slips return the potato to a glass of fresh water until you have as many slips as you need.


  • It may take between four and seven weeks to grow slips from sweet potatoes depending on whether you start them in water or soil.

  • One slip, on average, produces about a half dozen sweet potatoes.

  • You can start slips with grocery store sweet potatoes. Choose an organic variety which is less likely to have been treated with a root inhibitor.

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