How to Cut Sweet Potato Slips for Planting

How to Cut Sweet Potato Slips for Planting?

Sweet potato slips are cuttings from mature sweet potato tubers used for propagation. Cutting healthy slips boosts yields by creating vigorous transplants. Follow these steps for properly cutting and growing sweet potato slips.

Choose Plump Tubers

Start with certified disease-free sweet potatoes. Select large, unblemished tubers that are firm with fresh-looking skins. Avoid shrivelled or sprouted ones.

Choose tubers with tapered ends, which root the best. Round-ended tubers often rot before slips form.

Pick sweet potatoes stored at around 70°F. Warm temperatures induce sprouting.

Sprout Tubers

Place tubers in a sunny, warm spot indoors to encourage sprouting. Lay them in trays or shallow boxes in a single layer.

Turn tubers occasionally so sprouts emerge from all sides. Once sprouts reach 3-5 inches, they are ready for taking cuttings.

Prepare Cutting Tools

Use a sharp, sterilized knife to take cuttings. Wipe with rubbing alcohol before each tuber. A razor blade also works well.

Have clean containers ready to place cut slip material into immediately. Use trays or jars of water.

Take Straight Section Cuts

Make each cut straight across a sprouted area, retaining 2-3 sprouts per section.

Angle the cuts slightly downwards to maximize the lower stem material while exposing the upper sprouts.

Cut sections 2-3 inches in length. Avoid winding cuts around the tuber.

Include Basal Plate

Leave the basal plate material attached beneath each sprout. This is the thickened area the slips emerge from.

The basal plate contains growth nodes vital for new root formation. It ensures successful propagation.

Avoid Overcutting

Resist the urge to aggressively cut up each tuber. This stresses the plant and removes too much food reserve.

Limit each large tuber to 6-8 good straight sections. Smaller tubers may yield just 2-3 pieces.

Discard any damaged or diseased parts.

Root Cuttings

Place freshly cut slips into water or moist media like vermiculite, peat, or potting mix.

Change water daily to prevent rotting. Keep media evenly moist but not soggy.

Within 1-3 weeks, cuttings will have grown new white feeder roots and be ready for planting.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do cut slips last before planting?

Store cut slips in water or media for up to 4 weeks before planting out. Change water daily. Discard any slips that rot or deteriorate instead of rooting. Healthy slips remain viable for transplanting up to a month after cutting.

Can slips be shipped or mailed?

Freshly cut slips can’t withstand shipping or handling. Allow cuttings to first root in water or media, then ship transplants. Pack to prevent crushing and include moist media for moisture.

Is a heating mat needed for rooting slips?

While bottom heat speeds up growth, it’s not essential. At 70-80°F most cut slips readily root within 2-3 weeks without a heating mat. Warmer temperatures accelerate rooting.

What causes cuttings to rot before rooting?

Excess moisture causes most slip rotting before roots form. Ensure water or media never become waterlogged. Change water daily and usecontainers with drainage holes. Rot can also result from disease in the parent tuber. Start with disease-free potatoes.


Learning how to properly cut sweet potato slips prepares robust transplants for the garden. Select healthy tubers, make straight cuts retaining sprouts and basal plate, and avoid overcutting. Root cuttings in water or media before planting out for the season. With the right techniques, home gardeners can propagate an abundant harvest from their own potato slips.

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