Growing Sweetpotato

Sweetpotato
The word 'Slip' is the traditional name given to cuttings. A sweetpotato slip is about 200mm (8") in length. The lower leaves are removed leaving just three or four leaves remaining at the top of the stem. They do not generally have roots, but do produce new roots very quickly once planted, provided the soil is kept moist and the leaves do not become desiccated. As an alternative, our Jumbo plug slips are pre-rooted. Unlike small plug plants, our deep plugs help prevent root spiralling that can lead to twisted and contorted tubers.
Slips ready for planting

Slips ready for planting

Deep cell jumbo plugs

Deep cell jumbo plugs

Newly planted beds

Newly planted beds

Established slip

Established slip

Late summer

Late summer

Tubers at harvest

Tubers at harvest

Sweetpotato slips can be planted as soon as the weather is warm enough, this is generally from late April to early June.For best results soil temperature should be above 13 degrees Celsius and free from night time frosts. When slips are delivered place them in a jug of water somewhere warm, but not in direct sunlight, leave to stand overnight. If weather conditions are suitable the slips can be planted direct into prepared beds, alternatively pot them up into deep containers and allow them root, then plant them out.

Freshly cut sweetpotato slips

Slips boxed for posting

Slips on arrival

Slips on arrival

Sweetpotato slips after three days in the box

Step 1

Step 1

Refresh the slips in water over night.

Step 2

Step 2

Fill a deep pot with moist compost

Step 3

Step 3

Using a long dibber or stick make a hole in the compost to the full depth of the pot

Step 4

Step 4

Insert the slip into the hole and firm around

Step 5

Step 5

Repeat with remaining slips then water them.

Step 6

Step 6

Cover the slips with a light weight polythene and place somewhere warm but not in direct sunlight. a north facing window is ideal.

Slips after 48 hours

Slips after 48 hours

Keep the slips covered, watered and out of direct sunlight (north facing window) until they have fully rooted then remove the polythene cover

About 1 week later

About 1 week later

New roots appearing. Slips can be planted out as soon as weather conditions are right.

Looking after your slips on their arrival
Sweetpotato slips are very robust. However they may appear a little limp when they arrive due to being in the postal system. Following the steps in these photographs will help them recover. Click on the photo to open in a pop-up window.
Sweetpotato slips can be planted as soon as the weather is warm enough, this is generally from late April to early June. For best results soil temerature should be above 13 degrees Celsius.
Sweetpotato require warm soil so start preparing your sweetpotato bed as soon as the weather allows.
Covering the soil in a dark mulch will help warm the soil and suppress weeds.
Click on the photos opposite to see how we do it.
Remember you will need to allow for watering your sweetpotato while they are growing.
Step 1

Step 1

Prepare your ground, dig it over removing any large stones, and add fertiliser as needed

Step 2

Step 2

Form a raised bed

Step 3

Step 3

Firm the the sides of the bed

Step 4

Step 4

Level the top of the bed and firm with the back of a rake

Step 5

Step 5

Cover the bed with mulch. We use a biodegradable black film. This should be secured in place with soil around all the edges

Step 6

Step 6

Your finished bed should look similar to this

Step 7

Step 7

In most areas of the UK you will need to protect your sweetpotato. Use hoops placed over the bed and covered with polythene, to form a cloche. Alternatively grow your sweetpotato in a tunnel or greenhouse

​In the UK it is best to grow Sweetpotato in a tunnel, glasshouse or under a large cloche. In milder parts of the country they can be grown outside, but select a warm sheltered sunny position and cover with a fleece during Spring and Autumn.
 
They require a light sandy, well drained soil, with a pH range of between 5 and 7. If the soil is heavy add some horticultural sand as this will help with drainage and improve tuber shape.
 
Grow your sweetpotato in raised beds or rows. Alternatively try growing them in a deep container or bag filled with a mixture of compost and horticultural sand.
 
Plant the slips at a 45 degree angle, ensure that the whole bare stem is covered and only the top leaves remain above ground. Water the slips in, and make sure the leaves do not become dried out, covering with wet fleece will help. Within a few days the slips will have started to root.
 
Sweetpotato a very easy to grow, just ensure they get enough water, warmth and sunshine. A month after planting the slips will be well established and producing lots of top growth. Sweetpotato produce a lot of top growth so need room to spread. If space is limited try growing the stems up a trellis or canes.
 
Harvest your tubers in the autumn before the soil temperatures become too cold.
Full cultivation notes are supplied with each delivery of sweetpotato slips and jumbo plugs.