The Slips ArrivePackages containing sweet potato slips were shipping at a steady rate earlier this month. When live plants are delivered, it’s always best to plant them immediately — but when life and changes in the weather intervene, that isn’t always possible. Here’s how to keep your slips healthy until you can put them in the ground.
Open the box as soon as it arrives. The rigors of shipping can leave them looking the worse for wear, with pale, wilted, or even dead leaves. But this is not ordinarily cause for alarm— sweet potato slips are stronger than they appear. There may be variation in the size of the slips and the extent of the finer, fibrous white roots growing off of them. Some slips won’t have fibrous roots, some will have many, but they will all grow if planted in the proper environment.
Holding Your Slips for a Couple of DaysIf it’s just a day or two before you’ll be planting, simply moisten a paper towel and loosely wrap it around the root ends of the slips (if the slips do not have any fibrous roots, just wrap up the cut end). Sweet potatoes are of tropical origin and do not fare well in temperatures below 60°F/16°C, so keep them at room temperature. Protect them from direct sunlight, and prop them upright — often we will stick each bundle of slips in a glass or jar if we expect to be planting them within a day or so.
Holding Sweet Potato Slips for More than a Day or TwoWe were unable to plant our trial immediately due to cool wet weather, so our slips received long-term care to keep them happy until conditions improved. If you need to hold your slips for more than a couple days, here’s what to do.
After opening the box, gently and loosely separate the roots from one another, discarding any peat moss from the roots’ storage that was shipped with the plants.
Fill a container half full with potting mix. Arrange the slips loosely in a circle around the edges of the container, then fill the rest of the container with more potting mix. If the slips have fibrous roots, try to cover them with the potting mix. Water around the slips to help settle the potting medium, and add more medium if needed. Store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight (we put them under an occupied greenhouse bench).
If you have received more than one sweet potato variety, as we had, be sure to plant the slips in separate containers and label accordingly. Keep the containers moist. In just a day or two, they will be flourishing with bright, healthy leaves.
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