With the capacity to grow almost anywhere, the sweet potato vine or Ipomoea batatas are every gardeners’ favorite. Lush foliage displaying an array of different colors, including green, purple, bronze, variegated, black, and copper, these vines are eye-pleasing. Easy to grow and maintain, the other two features that act in favor of these ornamental vines.
The textured surface and heart-shaped leaves will evoke the deepest aesthetic feelings in anyone who enjoys the appearance of greenery in their yards. These vines could be wonderful hanging plants for planters, hanging baskets, window boxes, and being used as accent plants.
These plants are attractive, and their tubers are edible. However, being decorative vines, they can be used better than filling up your dinner table. Remember that the tubers of these vines will not taste as well as the more popular sweet potato cultivars available at your local supermarket!
So, let’s put the delicious properties of sweet potato vines aside for the time being since we’ll be concentrating on caring for and cultivating these plants. But before delving into the details, here is some basic information about this plant type.
Sweet Potato Vine – Basic Information
Here are the basics of sweet potato vines in a tabular form that will help you understand their types, growing conditions, features, and other details.
|General Name:||Sweet Potato Vine|
|Botanical Name:||Ipomoea batatas|
|Native Region:||Tropical regions of the Americas|
|Edible:||Yes, but not delicious|
|Hardiness Zone:||USDA 9-11|
Can be grown indoors, in containers
|Sun Exposure:||Full to shade|
|Soil Type and pH:||Moist, well-drained, neutral to acidic|
|Toxic:||Not for humans, but can be toxic for pets|
Types of Sweet Potato Vines
Let’s look at some of the popular varieties of Ipomoea batatas, aka (ornamental) sweet potato vines that you can grow in your yard.
Displaying golden-chartreuse foliage, Margarita is our favorite type. The heart-shaped leaves can grow up to 10 inches long and be used as decorative planter plants. They can also be used as filler plants in your garden’s sunny or partially shaded borders.
2. Sweet Caroline
Sweet Caroline is a ground cover plant that comes in five different colors: yellow-green, light green, bronze, red, and purple. This variety’s lovely light green leaves will turn your landscape into a spring sanctuary all year long. Plant them alongside companion plants like petunias, marigolds, and lobelia if you want a vivid display.
The Blackie is a purple, almost black queen who is the polar opposite of green foliage. They also produce lavender flowers that are light in color. The deep-cut in the foliage, on the other hand, mimics maple leaves and grows up to 10 inches long and 5 feet broad. This type is suitable for border plants or hanging pots on patios and verandas.
The Ragtime has slender, split leaves with mild purple tints that make it a lovely summer plant. The foliage has a 3-inch spread and looks fantastic in white ceramic containers.
5. Illusion Emerald Lace
Illusion Emerald Lace has trailing leaves that are deeply lobed yellow/ lime-green. This variety can reach a width of 4 feet and, if pruned regularly, can be used as an excellent bordering plant.
6. Illusion Midnight Lace
Almost similar to Illusion Emerald Lace, this variety grows rich purple foliage that can create an accent if planted with green perennial plants.
How to Grow Sweet Potato Vine?
Are you looking forward to getting your hands on these beautiful vines? Are you planning on using them to beautify your garden? If that’s the case, then put a stop to it!
Stop to read this and the following sections to discover how to grow and care for these ornamental vines.
If you do not prepare your garden to support the growth of sweet potato plants, you won’t be able to reap its beauty. What we mean is that it is crucial to ensure that your garden or yard has the suitable growing condition for these plants.
As previously said, these plants may grow almost everywhere. However, avoiding a few circumstances, such as direct sunshine and soggy or very dry soil, should be focused on. It’s also critical to select the best spot for your plants to flourish. Growing sweet potato vines in a location with well-drained, rich soil and plenty of sunlight is ideal.
But what if you live in a place with colder winter months, and the sun isn’t as bright? Don’t panic; in this instance, they can be planted in a warmer location, such as a south-facing block and yard or a high-temperature terrace.
In terms of soil, Ipomoea batatas prefer rich, well-drained soil. As a result, make sure that these plants’ area does not become wet too frequently. If you’re planting them in containers or planters, make sure there are enough holes at the bottom to allow for efficient water drainage. To cultivate these plants in a container, all-purpose potting soil is perfect. If you wish to cultivate them in your garden, add rich compost to the soil to amend it.
Although these vines are simple to care for, they must be watered regularly. These plants are drought-tolerant and will thrive if given sufficient water. However, before watering, inspect the soil and make sure it is not overly damp. Waterlogging can cause problems such as drooping foliage and root rot.
Sweet potato vines adore the sun and will thrive in direct sunshine. However, the blazing afternoon sun can harm the leaves, causing them to perish and fall. Plant them in areas that receive brilliant morning sunlight and a warm mood that lasts throughout the day. Keep the planter on any south-facing window railing or patio for colder and indoor environments.
5. Temperature and Humidity
It’s important to remember that these ornamental vines prefer bright sunlight but not excessive heat. As a result, if you live somewhere with a hotter summer, it’s best to put them in a somewhat shaded area. For these plants, maintaining a normal to high humidity is ideal.
How to Plant Sweet Potato Vine?
So far, so good? Are you ready to proceed with the planting process of these ornamental plants? If yes, then let’s get started.
If we have to summarize the whole process of growing this plant, it would be “putting a sweet potato in the water and waiting for it to sprout.” That’s pretty much it!
But to help you out in an elaborate way, here are the steps to follow while growing these aesthetically soothing ornamental vines.
- Take a sweet potato and place it in a container or vase.
- Make sure to submerge the bottom of the sweet potato in the water.
- Wait for the potato to sprout. It might take around 4 weeks or more.
- Once the potato sprouts and vines take off, wait for a few weeks to let the vines grow.
- You can wrap the vines around the container or planter to let it grow spirally.
There are some other ways to propagate sweet potato plants, which we will be discussing in the subsequent section.
Different Methods of Sweet Potato Plant Propagation?
There are three ways to propagate the ornamental sweet potato plants. Therefore, we will touch them in a precise yet decipherable manner.
1. From Cuttings
One of the most popular ways to propagate Ipomoea batatas is from cuttings. The cutting can be taken from anywhere, as root nodes will emerge from roots and along the stems.
Choose healthy vines 6-12” long and have numerous leaves for the greatest results. Also, remember to cut the stem before the first frost in the fall. To get sharp and clean-cut, always use sterile snips and pruners.
Submerge the cutting in clean water in a vase after taking it. Within a few days, you’ll notice new roots sprouting. To prevent bacterial growth, remember to replace the water every few days.
Once the last frost is over, transplant the stem to the garden or into a new planter to let them grow further.
Note: To adapt the plant to outside circumstances, remember to harden it off.
2. From Tubers
Propagating these vines from tubers is also pretty popular among gardeners. It is also an easy process to follow.
You can detach big portions of the root ball to divide and keep individual tubers to reproduce the plant. Please start the process by picking them up and diving before the first frost. After that, bury them in peat and refrain from touching them.
When the tubers grow in the spring (the subsequent year), they can produce new plants. Inspect tubers and eliminate any with blackish patches, sores, crinkled spots, decaying roots, or other defects.
Cut the tuber in half, and plant them in rich, well-draining soil after the last frost. Ensure that each tuber has some roots or shoots, and plant them 2 inches deep and at least 2-3 feet apart in a bright sunny region.
Note: Use potting soil if planting the roots in containers and amended soil if growing them directly.
3. From Seeds
Although seeds can be used to grow these vines, it is the least preferred way. One of the key reasons is that they are not reliable for flowers. As a result, obtaining seeds for propagation may be difficult. A few varieties of these plants are sterile.
Still, if you have the seeds, here are some guidelines for proper propagation.
Begin by soaking the seeds in warm water for at least 12 hours. This will assist with germination. After that, fill a seed tray halfway with a light, soil-free beginning mix. To prevent overcrowding, sprinkle the seeds on top of the mixture, keeping a 2-3 inches gap between each seed. Cover the seeds with a little dusting of the beginning mix afterward. To avoid seed suffocation, don’t press the mixture on the seed. Finally, sprinkle water on the seeds and cover the plate with a thin sheet of plastic to finish the process.
Keep the tray in the shade and check the soil to ensure it’s moist enough. Then, remove the plastic wrap and place the plant in a sunny window or under a grow light as seedlings appear. It is recommended that young seedlings be transplanted as soon as they sprout for best results. This reduces the likelihood of root disruptions.
Note: Hardening off fresh seedlings before putting them directly in the garden is critical.
Caring Tips for Sweet Potato Plant
Sweet potato vines are a popular choice among gardeners since they require little upkeep. A complete lack of basic maintenance, on the other hand, can lead to the plants’ demise. So, here are some helpful tips for maintaining a vibrant display of decorative sweet potato plants on your property.
We’ll begin with the watering procedure. These decorative plants are hardy, but they need to be watered frequently to thrive. Make sure to water your plant to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Also, before watering, check the soil’s moisture level by digging at least one inch into it with your finger. Watering once a week is the standard practice. During the hotter months, though, frequent watering may be required.
These vines will quickly exceed your available space. As a result, gentle pruning with sterile pruning shears is recommended now and again. This will also help to keep your plants healthy. Focus on pruning damaged or sickly vines around 1/4 inch above leaf nodes to foster new growth.
Growing these vines in rich soil is good. In addition, timely fertilizing may help these perennial plants develop more vigorously. Feed these vines with well-balanced fertilizers during the growing season to help them develop faster. It’s always a good idea to feed your plants once a week. However, keep in mind that because these vines grow quickly, you may need to clip them frequently if you fertilize them frequently.
Overwintering can be done by dividing the tubers and roots in the winter season. You can also bring your vines indoors during the winter season. Read the propagation section above to learn more about overwintering through root division and steam cuts.
5. Pests and Diseases
Sweet potato vines are tough and tenacious. As a result, if properly managed, they will have few pest problems. However, sweet potato looper, whitefly, aphids, thrips, slugs, flea beetles, and weevils can all affect these plants. Furthermore, excessive watering can cause root rot and fusarium droop.
Some interesting facts and questions about sweet potato vines you should know.
Yes, these vines grow sweet potatoes, and they are edible. However, they won’t be as delicious as other edible varieties since these vines are ornamental.
Yes, you can eat the tubers of these ornamental vines.
Ipomoea batatas won’t propagate for several reasons: extreme temperatures, overwatering or underwatering, frostbites, etc.
Yes, sweet potato vines are fast growers and can easily outgrow their initial planting region. In fact, these vines can grow up to 10 feet in a single growing season.
You can think of combining these perennial vines with companion plants. For example, petunias, New Guinea impatiens, marigolds, geraniums, and snapdragons can be paired ideally with these vines.
Undoubtedly, these ornamental vines are low-maintenance perennials that can brighten up your garden without much effort. Growing them and assisting them in flourishing is a simple chore. We hope that our sweet potato vines growing and caring recommendations have provided you with a better understanding of these plants and information on how to grow them. So go ahead and start propagating these vines now so that your yard is awash in green hues come spring.