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Sweet Potato Slips: How To Grow Delicious Sweet Potatoes From Vine Cuttings

All your burning questions about growing sweet potato slips answered.

This week was a big week at Seeds ‘N Such. Why, you ask? Because April 15 is the first day we start shipping sweet potato slips in the Southern United States.

Sweet potatoes are one of our best sellers, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are the tubers deliciously sweet and bursting with flavor, but sweet potatoes have a much higher nutritional content than regular potatoes. Rich in beta carotene, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, sweet potatoes just happen to be one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat.

A morning glory family member originating in Central and South America, sweet potatoes naturally grow as a perennial vine in the tropics. In the States, we have to produce these beautiful plants as annuals. Sweet potatoes thrive in the long, hot summers of the South, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t grow them elsewhere.

What are sweet potato slips?

Sweet potato slips are sprouts with roots that are ready to plant. Although sweet potato slips may look like seedlings, they are just stem cuttings that have been grown from roots. Sweet potato plants produce seeds, but the standard way to grow sweet potatoes is from slips, which are genetically identical to the parent plant—this way, you know exactly what you’re getting with each variety.

Since sweet potato slips are frost sensitive, we wait to put them in the mail until there is no danger of freezing temperatures at the receiving address. To find out the shipping dates in your area, check out our Sweet Potato Shipping Dates and Area Map.

Best varieties of sweet potatoes

There are hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes to choose from, but some of our favorites include the following:

This meaty variety is easily recognizable for its dark red-purple skin and vibrant orange flesh. Beauregard sweet potatoes are among the highest-yielding types and mature in about 90 days.

We think that Bonita’s especially sweet flesh is perfect for sweet potato fries, but this versatile variety would be excellent in any recipe. The pink-skinned potatoes mature in 90 days.

Bush Porto Ricos take a little longer to mature at 110 days, but these rust-colored potatoes are well worth the wait. This compact variety does well in container gardens and is easy to manage.

With a name like Centennial, you won’t be surprised to learn that this is one of America’s favorite varieties. These sweet potatoes boast carrot-colored skin and are ideal for baking or any way you prepare them. This variety boasts excellent disease resistance and matures in 100 days.

One of the earlier varieties to mature at around 90 days, Georgia Jet is prized for its rich orange flesh that holds moisture when fully cooked.

Our taste testers have characterized O’Henry’s flavor profile with notes of honey and nut. Deliciously sweet and stringless, O’Henry is harvestable at 95 days.

One of our more unusual varieties, Murasaki, is a Japanese beauty with bright purple skin and cream-colored flesh. Muraksaki has superb disease resistance and matures in 100 days.

Vardaman is another bush-type sweet potato that is easy to control and maintain. Vardaman is characterized by golden skin and rich, red flesh. This prolific variety matures in 100 days.

This heirloom is one of our oldest sweet potato varieties. Tough skins house a creamy-white flesh that, while somewhat dry, is incredibly sweet.

If you can’t choose just one variety, allow us to suggest a collection! Try the Best All-Around Collection for our favorite sweet potato varieties (hint: it’s Beauregard and Georgia Jet), or if you garden in the northern reaches of the world, the Northern Gardener Collection might be better for your regional climate with its mix of Centennial, Beauregard, and Georgia Jet plants.

Each variety has its unique flavor and texture, so experiment with a few different types to find your favorite. Plus, the more plants you order, the more money you save (and the more sweet potatoes you’ll enjoy come harvest time).

How to plant sweet potato slips

You’ll want to plant your sweet potato slips as soon as you receive them in the mail, as long as all danger of frost has passed. Follow these simple steps to ensure your sweet potato plants get off to the best start:

1. Check the weather

Sweet potatoes are tropical plants that do not tolerate cold temperatures. The vines do best in soil that is at least 60℉, so you may need to wait a couple of weeks after your last frost to plant sweet potato slips.

2. Choose a location

When the weather is warm enough for sweet potato slips, choose a location with good drainage that receives at least eight hours of sun daily. Sweet potato plants need full sun to produce the sweetest tubers—too much shade will result in leggy vines and small roots. 

Sweet potatoes will tolerate poor soil, but plant the slips in loose, fine-textured soil for the biggest and most uniform tubers.

You can also plant sweet potatoes in raised beds, making maintenance much more manageable! Make sure the bed is at least a foot deep for best results.  

3. Prepare the bed

Sweet potatoes aren’t heavy feeders, but foundational soil nutrition is necessary. An overabundance of nitrogen (N) will cause robust vines but smaller tubers, so amend the soil with a fertilizer higher in phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). 

Top dress the garden bed with a generous layer of compost and work it into the soil with a broadfork or shovel.

4. Plant the slips 

Make several furrows about six inches deep and at least three feet apart. Carefully tease the sweet potato slips apart, placing the root end in the furrow and keeping the leaves above the soil surface. 

Space individual slips a foot or more apart in the row and backfill with four to six inches of soil. 

5.Water the transplants

Once the slips are tucked nicely into their new home, give them a good soak to ease any stress. This is most important for the first few days after planting—once the sweet potatoes are established, they won’t require as much water. 

Maintaining sweet potato plants

Sweet potatoes don’t require much maintenance other than weeding, watering, and occasional pruning. Like winter squash, sweet potatoes are a set-and-forget crop that you essentially leave alone until harvest time. There’s no need to hill sweet potatoes like you would regular potatoes.

Weed regularly to prevent competition for resources like nutrients, light, and water. More space between plants will encourage better airflow and reduce the likelihood of disease.

Water deeply once a week (sweet potatoes need at least an inch of water a week) or more frequently during hot and dry weather.

Prune any extra runners or offshoot vines from the parent plant. You don’t technically have to prune sweet potato vines, but if you do, the vines will produce bigger tubers. Some sweet potato vines can grow more than ten feet long, so pruning prevents rogue sweet potato vines from crowding out other crops.

For a more detailed look at growing sweet potatoes (and other root vegetables) in your home garden, check out our extensive grow guide: Growing Root Crops From Seed. The 36-page booklet is thorough and covers everything from planting sweet potato slips to growing perfectly straight carrots from seed!  

Harvesting and storing sweet potatoes

Depending on the variety, sweet potatoes will be ready for harvest anywhere from 90 to 110 days after planting. As tempting as it is to dig the tubers early, exercise some patience and wait. Sweet potato vines signal that the tubers are ready for harvest when the leaves turn yellow or brown and die back or when the vines are killed by frost.

Harvest the tubers before any deep freezes by carefully lifting the tubers with a shovel or digging fork, taking care not to damage the potato skins.

After harvest, sweet potatoes need to be cured for a week in a warm, humid room (just like squash) before the tubers can be stored. With the proper treatment, sweet potatoes will keep for up to six months if stored in a cool, dark place.

If you love sweet potatoes, don’t be too intimidated to grow them in your garden! Whether you have acres of land or a few raised beds, you can grow your own sweet potatoes, and the results are well worth it.

Growing sweet potatoes in your garden is a fun and rewarding experience, and the most challenging part is waiting on the sweet potato slips to arrive in the mail. Follow these planting guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to impressing your friends and family with a bountiful harvest of this delicious, nutritious vegetable.

 Shop our collection of Sweet Potato Plants and place your order today!
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