The sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is a herbaceous perennial grown for its edible storage roots in the Convolvulaceae family. A branching, creeper vine with spirally arranged lobed heart-shaped leaves and white or lavender flowers are the sweet potato plant. The plant has enlarged roots, called tubers, that act as the plant’s energy store. The sweet potato vines’ length can reach 4 m (13 ft), and the plant is typically cultivated as an annual, harvested after one growing season. Sweet potatoes can also be referred to and come from Central America as yams or Spanish potatoes and they do not have seeds
Types of sweet potato vines
Ipomoea batatas’ Blackie’, ‘Blacky’
These purple sweet potato vines are so dark that, hence their name, they are almost black. A common variety that is known for its maple-like leaf shape is this vigorous and quick-growing cultivar. Although the ornamental sweet potato plants do not flower often, lavender or purple trumpet-like flowers are produced when Blackie does.
Ipomoea batatas’ Sweet Caroline’.
This variation is not just one plant coloration but includes five distinct color choices available:
yellowish-green, red, purple, bronze, and light green varieties. Like Blackie, it has leaves reminiscent of maple leaves and acts as a ground cover exceptionally well.
Ipomoea batatas’ Sweetheart’, ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart.’
The Sweetheart variety has distinctly heart-shaped leaves that make for a beautiful show, where the Sweet Caroline variety and the Sweetheart varieties diverge in their leaf type. It’s fast becoming a favourite, available in red, light green, or purple!
Ipomoea batatas’ Margarita’, ‘Marguerite’.
The Margarita grows a vivid chartreuse leaf with a yellow touch in full light, but it has a darker hue of green if grown in the shade. In its leaf structure, it has a faint heart shape and appears to mound before spreading. It can be trained on a trellis, and once built, it can reach heights of 6-9 feet.
Ipomoea batatas’ Tricolor’.
The tricoloured leaves are green with pink and white lines, giving it a distinct and unique look compared to other sweet potato vines. This variety is indeed named. It appears to be a little less tolerant of colder temperatures, and if the temperature drops too much, it requires protection.
Although it’s still a quick grower, it’s not as fast as other cultivars, and it’s beautiful when trailing from a hanging basket. This makes a lovely container plant.
Ipomoea batatas ‘Desana’.
The Desana sequence of sweet potato vines appears to spread to become around four feet tall, and it comes in different colours like the Sweet Carolines. Presently, varieties of ruddy bronze and lime green are available.
Ipomoea batatas’ Illusion’.
The Illusion cultivar is a popular strain with names like ‘Emerald Lace,” Garnet Lace,’ and ‘Midnight Lace.’ These sweet potato vines are described as having thread-leaf foliage and are more mounded than other forms, smaller growing, and less robust than other varieties. They are around 3 feet tall.
Ipomoea batatas’ SolarPower’ and ‘SolarTower.’
A purple sweet potato vine, the black variant of SolarPower, is deep purple-black in hue. As is a rusty bronze, a creamy lime green variant is available. SolarPower is one of the best performers in hot environments, rising to an average height of one foot and reaching about three feet wide. The associated cultivar known as SolarTower lives up to its name, where the SolarPower appears to mount and remain lower. It can quickly grow to a height of seven feet in a season, and is available in lime and black varieties and is well suited to trellis or arbour training.
Ipomoea batatas’ Floramia Rosso’.
This rare ornamental sweet potato vine is known for having shades of rose, brown, and bronze on its heart-shaped leaves. It extends to 4 or more feet. Ipomoea batatas’ Ragtime’.
This purple sweet potato vine is very striking with distinctive near-lacy leaves. It does very well in the summer heat and is around 3 feet tall.
Ipomoea batatas’ Sidekick’.
These cultivars, which were launched in 2009, are installed rather than spread and are available in two shades. Lime green tends to be lighter in colour than Margarita, and deep purple sweet vine plants tend to be black.
When to Plant Sweet Potato Vine
The sweet potato plant is planted in the spring most of the time. However, it can be planted at other times of the year, depending on your growing region. The one season in which planting sweet potato vines is usually not recommended is the winter. It prefers warmer temperatures as a tropical plant.
Pick a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil. They prefer hot, humid conditions close to their native environment in desert climates and can fail to thrive. Boost productivity in colder regions by planting in a warm position such as a south-facing wall or patio that absorbs heat.
There are many ways to use the sweet potato vine in your countryside! In planters that will trail out over the edge, sweet potato plants will provide a beautiful low ground cover. You can plant your sweet potato vines in pots or hanging baskets for a similar trailing effect. It will appear to crowd other plants with which it’s planted. You can trim your vines at any time to prevent them from choking out the neighbors.
The varieties that ascend in use along walls, cover arbours, and on all types of trellises are increasingly rising in popularity. They do need some help to get them started, but you can have a heavy cover over your backyard patio or a fence covered with vibrantly coloured leaves once they’ve filled out.
As an alternative to conventional lawns, people have started using sweet potato vine because it spreads enough that it is easy to make it into an excellent ground cover. However, the broad leaves are not as comfortable on bare feet, so this therapy is better applied in places where children are not likely to play.
How to grow a sweet potato vine indoors and outdoors
Remove the plant from the container carefully, being careful not to damage the fragile stem.
Loosen the roots gently if pot bound. Dig a planting hole twice the container’s diameter and depth and put the plant at the same level that it was in the container. Tamp down the soil around the base gently and water well. Spacing can vary, for smaller varieties from 6 to 12 inches and for larger specimens up to 2 feet.
How to grow a purple sweet potato vine
A fast-growing tropical vine that gracefully spills over the edges of patio containers or hanging baskets is Ipomoea batatas “Blackie”. “Blackie” is a fantastic variety that shows big, deeppurple leaves that seem almost black. The sweet potato vine, rooted in the dirt, acts as a ground cover or spreads along the edge of a flower bed.
In a jar filled with the industrial potting mixture, plant the sweet potato vine. In a sunny spot where the soil drains well, you can also plant it on the ground. To keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy until the plant is grown, water the sweet potato vine as needed. After that, the sweet potato vine is drought-tolerant and needs little water since the underground tuber provides water to the plant. If the plant appears to be wilted, it recovers when watered quickly.
Feed the sweet potato vine only if the growth appears slow, as no fertilizer is typically needed for the plant. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer for general use as directed on the bottle, and water immediately. Also, at planting time, integrating compost into the soil provides sufficient nutrients. If it becomes too exuberant in its container or crosses its borders in a flower bed, trim the sweet potato plant. Trimming encourages bushy, balanced growth and quickly rebounds the trimmed plant.
How to grow a sweet potato vine in a jar
For signs of injury, such as cuts, bruises, or soft spots, examine the sweet potato. If it has signs of damage, select a different tuber because damaged sweet potatoes are more likely to turn mouldy when rooting. Rinse the sweet potato in cold, clean water to remove dirt from any cakes. To avoid tearing or damaging the flesh, use gentle pressure on the tuber. Blot the skin with a
clean paper towel to dry. Find the sweet potato’s rooting end, which is the shorter of the two ends. Look for slender emerging roots of every sort. As the tuber must be appropriately positioned in the pot, note which end is the rooting end.With the narrow, rooting end pointing downwards and the broader end pointing up, hold the sweet potato upright. Place four toothpicks across the middle of the tuber into the flesh, one on each side. In a wide-mouthed pan, set the sweet potato so that the toothpicks rest on the jar opening, bearing the tuber’s maximum weight. To help the sweet potato, change the toothpicks to reach the container’s edges if they are too small. Until the bottom one-third of the sweet potato is submerged, pour cool tap water into the pan. Make sure that at least two of the “eyes” are below the water level.
Set the jar on an unshaded, east-facing window or light shade on the west- or south-facing window. As the water may evaporate too quickly and the sweet potato will get too hot, avoid unshaded southern and western window sills. Every few days, check the amount of water in the container and add more if the level drops below the sweet potato’s bottom. If it becomes cloudy or if it produces an unpleasant scent, replace the water. Watch for roots in around ten days and shortly after that for leafy shoots. To start new sweet potato plants, dump the pruned shoots into fresh potting soil.
How to grow sweet potatoes in containers
Grow sweet potatoes from rooted sprouts taken from a mature tuber, called slips. Two ways to get started with sweet potato slips are:
1. With about one-third of the tuber submerged, put the sweet potato in one-gallon containers or a hotbed. If you plant in a hotbed space, slips 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) apart are half full. Please leave it in a humid, sunny position where it will sprout (75 ° F/24 ° C)). Pull them off the tuber and set them in water or damp sand when the sprouts are 6 inches
(15cm) long; they will root in a few days. Around 12 weeks before you decide to set up the slips in the garden, start this process.
2. Place cut pieces of moist tuber sand or light growing medium at a constant temperature of approximately 26 ° C (80 ° F). (To keep the soil reliably warm, use a heating mat
with a thermostat.) Each piece must have one or more “eyes or sprouts.” Set each piece in the sand or light soil 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) deep. In approximately three weeks, shoots will appear. Add another inch of sand or light soil as shoots emerge. Do not let the medium that is developing dry out. Reduce the soil temperature to 70 ° F (21 ° C) when the sprouts reach 3 to 4 inches (7-10 cm) tall and grow for three weeks. In around 6 weeks, seed tubers will root and can then be planted in the garden.
How to grow sweet potatoes from tubers
Set rooted slips on mounted rows 12 inches (30cm) wide and 8 inches (20cm) high in the garden; space rows 3 feet apart (.9m); plant slips at intervals of 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm). The plant slips so that the sprouts expand, not sideways, towards the sky. Make sure all the roots and about 1⁄2 inch (12mm) of the stem are sealed. After planting, cover the tender sweet potato foliage from the direct hot sun for five days. Set a cover over the plants for a floating row.