Time to make your sweet potato slips!

Summer is fast approaching (in Florida, anyway) which means it’s time to get your slips in the ground and growing.  They require a long growing season and they require warmth.  But they don’t grow from seed potatoes, rather the “slips” created from your sweet potatoes.  How does one create a sweet potato slip?

The technique is easy.  You simply cut your sweet potato in half, perch it upon the mouth of a jar or glass (suspended by toothpicks works well) submerging the bottom half in water.  Voila!

Place in a sunny location and keep the water level  high enough so the bottom half remains wet and watch your potato sprout.

After a while — times vary, but you can expect to wait days, even weeks in some cases — shoots will form on the top of your potato.  You can gently remove these and place them in water, again half-submersed, and roots will develop.

When they reach a couple of inches, you simply transplant them to your garden and water them in.

Sweet potatoes like loose sandy soil and don’t need a lot of fertilizer or water, which makes them especially kind to the novice Florida gardener, such as myself.  You can amend the soil with some compost to add nutrients, but don’t worry if you can’t.  These girls are pretty hardy.

Depending on the variety, potatoes can be harvested from 100 – 140 days.   I planted my first crop last June and began harvesting in October but continued through December.  They don’t like the cold, so we cleared the remainder out and collected them for storage before the temps dipped too low.

Good thing we did.  Florida was quite nippy this last season!

As with any tender transplant, take care with your new rootings and they will grow fast and furious.   Wonderful news,  because sweet potatoes are not only easy to grow, but they’re as healthy as it gets.  Roasted, mashed, baked or broiled, these babies will keep you healthy and happy and hoppin’ ready for a new crop come fall!


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jose L. Vivanco Sr
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 18:39:00

    Thanks for the instruction on how to grow your own sweet potatoe slips. One question please: When we are ready to plant the slips obtained via your instructions do I plant the entire root on the soil or do I leave a portion out? Thanks….great blog…


    • gardenfrisk
      Apr 28, 2010 @ 09:58:41

      Thanks for checking in — appreciate the kind words! Once your “slip” is ready, you’ll plant the roots beneath the soil, with the leaves above, just like a regular transplant. As with any young transplant, take care to keep it watered in the beginning. It should take to the garden fairly well, and once established, it will grow like a weed!

      Remember: Give it LOTS of room to grow and spread because it will — everywhere. Come fall — you’ll have loads of sweet potatoes to enjoy. I planted mine mid-June and began harvesting in October, continuing clear through December! Average maturity is 100 – 140 days.

      And don’t forget — use your last potatoes for next season’s slips. Self-sustainability!


      • Ingrid Smith
        May 07, 2012 @ 00:20:04

        I thought you may like to see these photos of my sweet potatoes as described in my previous comment. Hope they come through alright.

  2. Ingrid Smith
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 22:17:20

    Thank you very much for this.
    I have started my first sweet potatoes in jars of water today, hoping for lots of slips!
    Greatly appreciate the simple and clear instructions.


  3. Roq
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 22:45:30

    I have a couple of questions as this is my first year growing sweet potatoes.

    When you cut the potato, what end goes in the water? I am assuming the cut goes into the water. Second, can both halves of the potato grow slips?


    • gardenfrisk
      Apr 08, 2012 @ 21:46:08

      You’re absolutely correct! The cut end goes into the water which means you get two slips in one! Just suspend and keep water level high and place in a bright warm window or patio and soon you’ll have sprouts shooting up with gorgeous green leaves at the top, spindly roots down in the water. Simply transplant into the ground and you’re on your way to a golden bounty of sweets. But remember: patience. Sweets take over 100 days to mature.

      Also, stop by our new location! BloominThyme.wordpress.com is now BloominThyme.com 🙂


  4. MKL
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 08:56:35

    Does the original plant you harvested your slips from, keep growing or do you dispose of it?


    • gardenfrisk
      Apr 18, 2012 @ 15:27:02

      Eventually it will cease to sprout. If you want, you can plant the entire potato piece, sprouts included, or simply pull the sprouts from the slip potato and plant them. Remember to keep them moist in the beginning–same as your other tender young sproutlings. Happy gardening!

      Don’t miss our new location! BloominThyme.wordpress.com is now BloominThyme.com


  5. Ingrid Smith
    May 04, 2012 @ 01:59:15

    Does one need to hill sweet potatoes, like ordinary potatoes?


  6. Ingrid Smith
    May 06, 2012 @ 08:34:56

    Many thanks for all your help with the sweet potatoes.
    On the 4th Jan I started 5 sweet potatoes in jars of water, hoping for some slips.
    From those 5 sweet potatoes, I now have 3 dozen flourishing sweet potato plants, spreading their lovely leafy trails everywhere!
    Would love to download some photos of them, if I can work out how to do so!
    Am delighted with the results I have got.
    Perhaps a few more weeks, then I may be able to begin harvesting.


  7. Ingrid Smith
    May 07, 2012 @ 00:46:51

    Many apologies for posting my photo links and comment in the wrong place, in January 2012, instead of May 2012.


    • gardenfrisk
      May 07, 2012 @ 09:05:54

      No worries! They look great 🙂


      • Ingrid Smith
        May 15, 2012 @ 02:49:58

        All those lovely sweet potatoes I showed you photos of have suddenly developed a problem.
        Some of the leaves are turning yellow, then black.
        Happened so quickly.
        Any suggestions, please?

      • gardenfrisk
        May 15, 2012 @ 12:54:40

        First check your water source. If sweet potatoes don’t get sufficient water, their leaves will turn yellow and ultimately black (dead). Also be sure you’re not getting TOO much water. Sweet potatoes can tolerate drier conditions than most. If they receive too much water, they can develop a fungus which you’ll need to treat with a fungicide. You can get an organic copper fungicide that should do the trick. Also, remove any dead foliage as it works to spread the condition.

        Hope that helps!

  8. Ingrid Smith
    May 20, 2012 @ 06:54:57

    Very many thanks.
    Will let you know how they get on.


    • gardenfrisk
      May 20, 2012 @ 16:50:49

      Please do! There’s nothing better than garden fresh sweet potatoes — pie or plain-baked! 🙂


      • Lady Farmer
        Oct 29, 2012 @ 14:39:29

        I have enjoyed web site. i grow sweet potatoes from slips i have bought. some times they will have a good taste, sometimes not. i a have found a good potatoe this year. it has a red meat, ane a very good flavor. a lot like the old georgia sweet potatoe. my question is where we dug up potatoes at there are loads of vines coming up. can we use those vines for draws for nex spring? if so how do i keep them during winter months? Help please!

      • gardenfrisk
        Oct 29, 2012 @ 14:45:00

        If the old vines are in the ground where you planted before, it’s likely they are new sweet potatoes! This has happened to me several times. Unharvested potatoes grow up in my old beds, in my compost pile — everywhere! If it snows where you are, I’d try and dig them up before it does. Once out of the ground, they won’t keep for too long. Best place for them is the cellar or a cool, dry pantry. Hope this helps! And have you been to our new site? It’s Bloominthyme.com! Hope to see you there 🙂

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    Jul 03, 2013 @ 03:13:43

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  10. Chay
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 15:33:10

    Thanks for this wonderful information!!
    One question: how do I know when the sweet potatoes are ready to be harvested?


    • gardenfrisk
      Aug 06, 2013 @ 15:49:10

      After about 100-120 days from planting, gently dig around the plant and look for potatoes. The longer they’re in, the bigger they’ll get. Good luck!


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