How To Root A Sweet Potato For Garden Planting Or?

by Sherry Riter in Food,Gluten Free,Grain Free,Paleo,Self-Reliance,Vegetable

sweet potato jar root slips

It may seem a little strange that this post is about how to root a sweet potato since it is the middle of winter, BUT I have a really good reason for sharing it now.

Sweet Potato Planting Terms And A Few Facts

Let’s start off by speaking the same language and understanding some terms.

A sweet potato can refer to two different things. The definition of a sweet potato is:

  1. a tropical vine of the morning-glory family with leaves in various shapes and often white and purplish flowers
  2. a large thick sweet and nutritious tuberous root that is cooked and eaten as a vegetable

A few facts about the sweet potato:

  • The sweet potato plant is a native to tropical America and is widely cultivated in warm temperate climates.
  • The sweet potato plant is a trailing vine with stems that have funnel shaped flowers.
  • The sweet potato vine has glossy, green leaves.
  • The flower that grows on the sweet potato vine is tinged with pink or rose violet.
  • Sweet potato flowers are made of five fused petals.
  • The main pollinators of a sweet potato flower are honeybees and bumblebees.
  • The sweet potato vegetable is not related to the white or Irish potato.
  • A sweet potato vegetable grows underground.
  • The root end of a sweet potato usually comes to a sharper point than the stem end which tends to be flatter.
  • Sweet potatoes are tuberous roots that are oblong or pointed oval.
  • The color of the sweet potato skin ranges from light buff, brown and purplish red.
  • The pulp of the sweet potato is usually orange, but can also be purple or white.
  • A sweet potato with white pulp is the highest in starch.
  • A sweet potato with orange pulp is high in carotene

A gardening term:

The definition of slip in relation to a sweet potato: a small shoot or twig cut for planting or grafting.

How To Root A Sweet Potato

Now that we have established what a sweet potato is and know a gardening term, it is time to learn how to root a sweet potato.

Most vegetables are started by using seeds for the plant. That’s not how it all begins with a sweet potato. A sweet potato is started from slips that are grown from a mature sweet potato. You can use a sweet potato from your garden or from the grocery store. Sometimes the non-organic sweet potatoes take longer to “start” because they have been sprayed with insecticide, so if you are worried about that then just buy an organic sweet potato.

The goal is to grow shoots of growth or slips off the sweet potato. Each sweet potato can produce up to 50 slip sprouts.

So this is what you need to root a sweet potato:

  • A sweet potato
  • Several toothpicks
  • A jar
  • Water
  • A warm place with indirect sunlight

To begin, make sure that your sweet potato can fit at least half way into the jar. I was lucky because it not only fits halfway into the jar, but it is bulbous enough on the other end that it also won’t fall through the opening of the jar. In case you aren’t that lucky, put the sweet potato in the jar and judge where the halfway point is on the sweet potato.

sweet potato jar toothpicks slips

Now poke three evenly spaced toothpicks partially into the sweet potato to act as a hanger on the jar. The toothpicks will also keep the root end from touching the bottom of the jar.

Root Sweet Potato For Garden Planting

Fill the jar up to the halfway point with clean, room temperature water. Rainwater works best because it is “natural,” but tap water will also work just fine too.

Root Sweet Potato slips

Set the jar in a warm, bright place with indirect sunlight like near the radiator or on a window ledge. The temperature needs to stay above 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and should not get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.

Root Sweet Potato slips jar

While we are waiting for slips to grow, be sure to keep the jar rotated so that all sides of the sweet potato will be exposed to about the same amount of sunlight.

Also, keep an eye on the water. Try to keep the water at the same level and clean. Completely dump the water out about ever three to four days and fill back up to the same level again. This will prevent the sweet potato from rotting and when roots grow, it will prevent root rot.

That is how we start rooting slips on a sweet potato to prepare it for gardening or…Oh yeah. I didn’t tell you exactly why I am rooting a sweet potato in the middle of winter, did I?

Well, I’m not going to tell you right now either. This is our little adventure and as we watch this sweet potato grow, not only will you learn a thing or two, but eventually you will get to see what I’m going to do with it! You should grow one with me at the same time too!

Aren’t you just so excited?!!!

Humor me and leave a comment telling me that you just can’t hardly wait to see where our adventure is headed!

Gotta love a country girl nerd.

The Sweet Potato Posts
How To Root A Sweet Potato For Garden Planting Or?
Sweet Potato Update, A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
How Is Mr. Sweet Potato Head Sprouting?
Sweet Potato Shoots Recipe & Mr. Sweet Potato Head
Lessons I Learned From A Sweet Potato, Specifically Mr. Sweet Potato Head

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nikki February 4, 2013 at 8:18 am

That’s a great idea! Here in Southern Cal, I could probably plant a sweet potato soon. This is a nice science experiment kind of thing to do with your kids, too. Thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to see what you do with it!


2 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

It would be a great science experiment for children because they grow rather quickly after rooting.


3 Anita February 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

I can’t take the suspense!
What happens to the sweet potato?
Dear God in heaven….WHAT???


4 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm


Thank you for making me laugh!


5 Joan February 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

I have no idea where this adventure with the sweet potato is going to head, but since I read your blog everyday I can hardly wait to find out! (And yes I am humoring you!) 🙂


6 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm

LOL You did a great job at humoring me until you admitted it! LOL


7 Joan February 4, 2013 at 11:58 am

On second thought, I am not humoring you. I feel like I am in kindergarten and the teacher, (you), is saying to the class, “We are all going on this wonderful adventure as we watch this sweet potato grow into a wondrous plant! Who wants to watch with me and experience the magic of nature?”

All the children in the class raises their hands and say excitedly, “Me! Me! Me! I want to experience the magic of nature!”

Then one little boy named Johnny whose hand is raised says, “Miss Redhead Riter, you are so much fun as a teacher. I bet you are a lot of fun at home!”

“Why thank you, Johnny,” you say.

Then Johnny says, “I bet you are a lot of fun with your husband.”

And you answer, “I don’t have a husband.”

“But if you did have a husband,” Johnny says, “is this the way you make babies? Is that where this adventure is heading?”


8 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

LMBO! You and Little Johnny are very naughty children!


9 Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2) February 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I couldn’t resist clicking on the link in your Tweet! Looks like starting an avocado pit, but maybe faster.

My question is that I have a sweet potato with an “eye” that has started rooting on the counter. Can I just cut that off and plant it? Or do I need to put it in water so it starts a leaf sprout, too? (Or maybe I’ll just cut it off and cook the still-firm sweet potato!)


10 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

You don’t have to cut off the sprout. Just put it in water so that it will grow some roots first before you plant it in the dirt.

Also, unlike regular white potatoes, the sprout doesn’t add toxins to the sweet potato so you can still eat it.

I’m glad you couldn’t resist the tweet!


11 Skip_D February 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I haven’t rooted a sweet potato in ages! I remember doing it when I was a kid… I’m looking forward to where this is going – & I’m hungry, so I’m going to fix a sweet potato right now! 🙂

btw, sweet potatoes aren’t the same as yams – sweet potatoes, which are dicots related to morning glories, are from tropical South America, but yams are monocots related to lilies & grasses, & come from West Africa, where they are a primary staple food…


12 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 6:08 pm

😀 Yep! You finally gave me a fact I already knew! LOL The world is probably going to end because that never happens. LOL


13 Skip_D February 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm

naaaahhh… that asteroid definitely is going to miss ^_^


14 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm

LOL Yep, but it is going to get really close!


15 Skip_D February 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm

yup – that asteroid must be a southern asteroid, ’cause it’s a kissing’ cousin! 😉


16 Sherry Riter February 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm



17 PJ February 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I have a BLACK thumb. I kill cactus, I have NEVER been able to take clippings of plants and make them grow roots in water, I have never been able to get sweet potatoes rooted, nor avocadoes. I do not do live plants well at all. I bought a BEAUTIFUL ivy which as long as I didn’t do much to it, it was fine. It kept growing. It got so big I really needed to transplant it into a bigger pot. That was a big mistake. It died.
God bless!


18 Sherry Riter February 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm

LMBO!!!!!!!!! Too funny PJ!!!


19 teresa vett February 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Oh mama has done this so many times. I will be quiet about it though. You do not have a green thumb. I hope it survives, lol.


20 Sherry Riter February 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I have a really GOOD reason to root it, but I’m not telling you why either. I do have a backup plan for my non-indoor-green-thumb. If it won’t root for me, I am taking it over to your place and you can get it started. LOL


21 Bev February 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm

And they make the best vines ever! Curiosity is peaked. You are so mischievous!


22 Sherry Riter February 5, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Me mischievious? LOL You betcha!


23 Andy April 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Just like to add my two pence worth. I tried growing a sweet potato (ordinary store bought tuber) many years ago but all I did was stick it in a pot of compost and kept it indoors, perhaps I got lucky but it sprouted well and when it started getting longer I ran some lines from the ceiling to the pot for the vines to climb up, the rate of growth was fantastic you could literally and I mean literally sit and watch it grow, it got to the stage where I would peek round the door in the mornings just to be sure it wasn’t waiting to ambush me (well that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you really could watch it grow) , sadly it never did flower or produce tubers but all in all it was a fascinating experience for the whole family and something I intend to try again.


24 Sherry Riter April 26, 2013 at 12:07 am

You’ll have to try doing what I did after I grew the sweet potato!!! —>


25 Margaret December 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Just wondering, when you suspend the sweet potato in the jar of water with the toothpicks, why can’t the sweet potato touch the bottom of the jar?


26 Sherry Riter December 19, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I’m assuming so that the roots can grow from the bottom also instead of being butted up against the glass and limiting the area for rooting.


27 snooky March 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm

LUVING YOUR BLOG..where is the second part to sweet potato experiment or has it not happened yet?


28 Sherry Riter April 2, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog!!! 🙂

I just added links to all the sweet potato posts to the bottom of all the sweet potato posts to make it easier to follow Mr. Potato Head’s story. Enjoy!


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