sweet potatoes

Growing sweet potato slips can be a rewarding and satisfying gardening project, but it requires some time, patience, and care. The effort you put into nurturing sweet potato slips will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps of how to plant sweet potato slips, whether you’re looking to grow them indoors or outdoors.

Sweet Potato Overview

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and versatile root vegetable known for their delicious flavor. They come in various varieties, and their leaves and roots can be used in a wide range of culinary dishes. Growing sweet potato slips indoors allows you to have a head start on the growing season and enjoy fresh sweet potatoes, even if you have limited outdoor space.

Did you know that sweet potatoes are not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious? They are rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin A, and are considered a superfood due to their high antioxidant content. In fact, sweet potatoes contain a unique antioxidant called beta-carotene, which gives them their vibrant orange color. Beta-carotene is not only good for your health but also for your skin and eyes, making sweet potatoes a tasty and beneficial addition to your diet.

What You Need

To successfully plant sweet potato slips indoors, gather the following materials:

  • A healthy bunch of sweet potatoes
  • Toothpicks (a pack)
  • Small containers or jars
  • Water
  • Sunlight

How to Plant Sweet Potato Slips Indoors

  1. Selecting Sweet Potatoes: Start by choosing healthy, unblemished sweet potatoes. Avoid using any that have cuts, bruises, or signs of mold or decay. You can source sweet potatoes from grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or your own garden.
  2. Preparing the Sweet Potatoes: Thoroughly wash the sweet potatoes with soap and water to remove any dirt or debris. Dry them with a clean cloth.
  3. Creating Toothpick Supports: Gently pierce the sweet potato about halfway down with a toothpick, forming a cross or plus sign. These toothpicks will act as supports, holding the sweet potato upright in the container and allowing roots to develop.
  4. Choosing a Container: Select a container that is deep enough to accommodate the sweet potato and allows water to cover the bottom half of the potato. Glass jars or shallow pots work well.
  5. Adding Water: Fill the container with water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the sweet potato, encouraging root development.
  6. Positioning the Sweet Potato: Place the toothpick-supported sweet potato on the rim of the container, ensuring stability. It should not tip over or submerge completely in the water.
  7. Placement and Care: Position the container in a warm, sunny location, providing the sweet potato with at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day to promote sprouting.
  8. Monitoring Water Level: Regularly check and refill the container as needed to maintain the water level around the bottom half of the sweet potato.
  9. Observing for Growth: After a few weeks, small sprouts or slips will start to emerge from the eyes of the sweet potato. These slips will eventually grow into vines.
  10. Transplanting the Slips: When the slips reach about 6 inches in length, they are ready to be transplanted into individual pots or directly into the garden soil.

Tips for Indoor Growth:

  • If the toothpicks become stuck while inserting them into the sweet potato, try twisting them as you push them in to help ease them through.
  • Handle the sweet potato and slips carefully to avoid damage.
  • Sweet potato slips are sensitive to cold temperatures, so wait until after the last frost has passed before transplanting them outdoors.
  • Provide consistent moisture and adequate sunlight for healthy growth.

Transplanting Sweet Potatoes into the Yard

  1. Timing is Key: When the sweet potato slips have grown to about 6 inches in length and have developed some healthy roots, it’s time to transplant them into your yard. Wait until the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, typically in late spring or early summer.
  2. Prepare the Garden Bed: Choose a sunny location in your yard with well-draining soil. Sweet potatoes thrive in loose, sandy, or loamy soil. Prepare the garden bed by loosening the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches and incorporating organic matter like compost to improve soil fertility.
  3. Spacing: Space your sweet potato slips about 12 to 18 inches apart in rows, with rows spaced 3 feet apart. This spacing allows the vines to spread and the sweet potatoes to develop properly.
  4. Planting the Slips: Carefully remove the sweet potato slips from the indoor containers, taking care not to damage the roots. Dig a small hole in the prepared garden bed and place each slip into the hole, burying it to the level of the leaves. Gently pat the soil around the base to secure the slip in place.
  5. Watering: Water the transplanted sweet potato slips thoroughly after planting. This helps settle the soil and provides the slips with the moisture they need to establish themselves in the garden.
  6. Mulch: Applying a layer of mulch around the sweet potato plants helps retain moisture, control weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Organic mulch, like straw or wood chips, works well.
  7. Provide Support: Sweet potato vines can grow vigorously and may benefit from some support. You can use stakes or trellises to help the vines climb and prevent them from spreading too far.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

  1. Timing for Harvest: Sweet potatoes are typically ready for harvest 90-120 days after transplanting the slips, depending on the variety and growing conditions. The best time to harvest is in the late summer or early autumn, before the first frost.
  2. Check for Signs: Look for visual cues that indicate the sweet potatoes are ready for harvesting. The leaves will turn yellow, and the vines may start to die back. It’s a good practice to wait a few weeks after these signs appear to allow the sweet potatoes to mature fully.
  3. Harvesting: To harvest sweet potatoes, use a fork or shovel to gently dig them out of the ground. Be careful not to damage the tubers during this process. Sweet potatoes are delicate, and rough handling can result in bruising or cuts.
  4. Curing: After harvesting, sweet potatoes should be cured to improve their flavor and storage life. Place them in a warm, humid location (around 85°F and 90-95% humidity) for about 10-14 days. This process allows the skin to harden and the sweet potatoes to sweeten.
  5. Storage: Once cured, store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, and dark place. They can last for several months when stored correctly.

 

If you want to plant sweet potato slips, it will require considerable time, patience, and effort on your part.

Sweet potato slips require more care than your average plant but they also give you a lot of great rewards.

Learn to plant other veggies here!