Sweet potato vines are beautiful ornamental spreaders or spill-over plants that can act as a centerpiece to accent your garden wall. You may be wondering if you can grow them from a store-bought sweet potato. Well, wonder no more as we have taken the time to research this for you.
To grow a sweet potato vine from a sweet potato, follow these steps:
- Stick three toothpicks 1/3 of the way equilaterally on the round part of the potato.
- Fill a plastic cup halfway with water.
- Hang the potato on the cup making sure that the pointed half of it is submerged in water.
- Change the water every three days.
- Slips and roots will start to appear within two weeks.
- Separate and plant the slips in your garden, plant box, or hanging basket filled with loam soil.
- The slips will mature in 6 to 8 weeks before rapidly growing into vines.
As you are growing your sweet potato into a vine, you will notice that the variegation and look may depend on the type of sweet potato you use. The type you buy to eat may not be the best. Read on as we give you the lowdown to help you get the vine you want!
What is The Difference Between a Sweet Potato Plant and a Sweet Potato Vine?
First of all, you may be wondering if the sweet potato you bought in the Supermarket will be the same as the sweet potato vine you see in other gardens.
Technically speaking a sweet potato plant and a sweet potato vine are the same specie Ipomoea Batatas that are part of the morning glory family.
The difference is that sweet potato vines are usually cultivars that are grown as ornamentals for the appearance of their lush and colorful vegetation. Although they are edible, they do not taste as good as the varieties grown for consumption. Their storage roots taste bitter instead of sweet. As ornamentals, they are instead sought after for their heart-shaped leaves that come in light-green, purple, red, bronze, and green yellow color.
What Are The Best Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine Varieties?
Now that you know you can grow a vine from your store-bought sweet potato, you may be curious as to what ornamental varieties are there to choose from.
The following varieties of sweet potato vines are used as ornamentals because of their unique shapes and colors, making them excellent accent plants as ground spreaders, wall spillovers, or for hanging basket trailers.
Sweet Caroline Purple
Sweet Caroline Purple, sometimes also called Sweetheart Purple, gets its name from its attractive purple heart-shaped leaf. It is an annual herbaceous plant that is low on maintenance that grows low and dense. Being a trailing vine they are great as hanging basket plants or for trellises and will spill well over a garden fence or wall.
Tricolor sweet potato vine gets its name from its green, cream, and pink colored leaf. This variety is easy to maintain as they do not grow as fast as other sweet potato vines. They are usually used as accents in trailing containers because of their color. They are, however, less tolerant of the cold than most varieties.
Marguerite or Margarite is another dense herbaceous annual similar to Sweet Caroline Purple. It has bright green leaves and is a good ground cover and drapes over a garden wall or fence. If grown in shade it will grow deeper green and maybe used to be trained in a trellis, reaching up to 9 feet when established.
Ipomoea batatas "Blackie" is a perennial with heart-shaped nearly black-colored leaves. It sometimes grows lavender trumpet-shaped flowers that have highly toxic seeds. It is known as an easy-to-maintain plant popular for hanging and window boxes.
Ace of Spades
This variety features uniquely shaped leaves that turn dark purple to black as they mature.
Sweet Caroline Raven
Sweet Caroline Raven has a three-pointed purple leaf that makes it an attractive accent plant.
Illusion Garden Lace
Unlike most of the varieties above, the Illusion Garden Lace is a mounding rather than a trailing vine. This makes them great to create a volume accent. It has beautiful red-bronze leaves that create a striking foliage that is easy to maintain in either the garden ground, fence or on hanging containers.
Another cultivar from ipomoea batatas, Desana comes in different colors. The shape of their leaves is similar to Illusion Garden lace, being thin with three points usually colored ruddy bronze or lime-green. Desana spreads about 4 feet wide.
Yet another cultivar of the same species, Ragtime is prized for its heart-shaped leaves that come in brown, bronze, or rose shade colors. This heat-loving variety thrives in summer. It spreads about 3 feet and poses no danger in overrunning your garden.
Are Sweet Potatoes and Yams The Same Thing?
It's common in many places to refer to sweet potatoes as yams. However, botanically speaking, they are in fact not the same.
Sweet potatoes come from Central and South America and are vines that come from the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes have short, blocky storage roots with tapered ends. Their skin is thin and smooth.
On the other hand, true yams are native to Africa and Asia. These underground tubers have rougher skin and are generally longer and more cylindrical in shape.
When is The Best Time to Plant Sweet Potato Vine?
Sweet potatoes are flexible when it comes to planting. You can plant sweet potato vine anytime except winter, with spring being the best time. To be sure, you can always check your growth zone map to determine which variety grows well in your location.
Are Sweet Potato Vines Easy to Maintain?
Sweet potato vines are considered easy maintenance plants. They grow and spread easily demanding little except for an occasional trimming and will bounce back after winter frost. They like full sunlight but may grow in semi-shaded areas and in some instances in full shade.
How Fast do Sweet Potato Vines Grow?
These vines are speedy growers. Sweet potato vines grow fast after the slips mature at 6 to 8 weeks. They may reach lengths up to 10 feet and spread 6 feet wide in a single season and may grow even longer given optimal conditions.
What Kind of Soil Does a Sweet Potato Vine Like?
Sweet potato vines are tolerant of different soil pHs as long as the soil drains well. As with most plants, water-logged soil can cause root rot, so make sure that you use well-aerated and amended soil for good drainage. Sweet potato vines are inclined to moderately rich soil and will grow and spread very vigorously. Therefore you would do well to add compost when you plant the slips in your garden.
How Often Do You Need To Prune Sweet Potato Vines?
The trade-off from fast spreaders is that they can quickly take over the garden, so you will definitely need to prune them for maintenance. You can do this as the foliage exceed the area you wish them to spread or spill over. Start by pruning dead or sick vines then cut at least 1/4th inch above the leaf node. Pruning will also help your vine's foliage grow lusher and healthier in the long run.
Can You Grow Sweet Potato Vines Indoor?
You can grow sweet potato vines indoors. While they like direct sunlight they will grow in semi-shade or in some cases full shade but will be less colorful. You can plant them in indoor containers or hanging baskets and rotate and bring them out to the sun once in a while.
We've seen that you can easily grow sweet potato vines from your sweet potato, however, they may not be as attractive as the ornamental varieties you can get at your garden supply store. It is possible that you can grow lush vines for garden ornamental purposes so go ahead and try. After all the steps are quite easy as we have shared above.
The definite advantage of growing vines from your edible sweet potatoes is the dual use of having an ornamental and a ready food source. Then again there is the benefit of just growing an ornamental plant from your extra tuber.
Lastly, before we part ways, you may be interested in other garden-related articles from Gardentabs.com. Do check out the ones below: