If you’ve ever left a sweet potato out long enough, you may have noticed it starting to sprout. As with normal potatoes, you can grow all new sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) from just a few leftovers. All you have to do is acquire sweet potato slips: little sprouts grown from an old potato that are the basis for new plants. And guess what? Those new plants don’t have to go in your garden, they look very decorative indoors as well!
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about growing sweet potato slips to grow indoors as houseplants or outdoors to produce your very own sweet potatoes.
Starting sweet potatoes
If you’re interested in growing sweet potato slips to use as houseplants or to plant in your garden to grow new sweet potatoes, here’s what you’ll need:
- Sweet potato. Duh! I recommend starting at least two or three at the same time, as not all of them will always sprout succesfully. You can buy sweet potatoes to start online here.
- Avoid potatoes with any traces of rot.
- Vase or glass.
- Toothpicks (optional)
All you have to do now to start growing your sweet potato slips is cut them in half, fill your vase or glass with water and place the pieces in there. They should be about halfway submerged. The rounded side is where baby plants will start growing, so be sure to place that side up. If your container is a little too wide, you can use three or four toothpicks to easily suspend the sweet potato and keep it in place.
Growing sweet potato slips
After you’ve placed your sweet potatoes in water, the waiting game begins. Place the container in a warm and light location and change the water regularly. Although as mentioned before not all sweet potatoes will sprout, most will start producing roots on the underside and little stems and leaves on top. In both cases the growth will appear from the little bumps on the potato’s skin.
The growth process can be fast or slow depending on the environment, but you should be seeing some action within a few weeks. If the water turns cloudy and/or starts smelling odd, discard the potato piece. It is starting to rot, which is unfortunately something you can’t do much about. If there is no rot and healthy sprouts are appearing, just wait until the stems are healthy and firm and have a few leaves before moving on to the next step.
Turning your sweet potato slips into houseplants
Congratulations: you’ve grown sweet potato slips!
These sprouts can now be turned into all-new sweet potato plants. The foliage is quite decorative and looks lovely grown indoors, but you can also transfer the slips to your garden to actually grow your very own sweet potatoes. If the latter is what you’re interested in, you can have a look at this article.
If you want to keep your sweet potato slips indoors and continue growing them as houseplants, you can now remove them from the ‘mother potato’. Just gently twist them off, taking care not to damage the stems too much. Then, simply place them in water again (small shot glasses might be an easy option). Leave them until they have grown some roots before transferring them to their own pots.
When potting up your baby sweet potato plants, be sure to go for well-draining soil with some added perlite and a pot with a drainage hole. Choose a sunny location and keep the soil slightly moist. To encourage faster growth, the best fertilizer for sweet potatoes is just a regular houseplant fertilizer. Nothing special needed here!
And that’s how you grow your own sweet potato slips! Easy as pie. Any more questions about starting sweet potatoes or want to share your own experiences with growing sweet potato slips? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.