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.
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, 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.
This variety features uniquely shaped leaves that turn dark purple to black as they mature.
Sweet Caroline Raven has a three-pointed purple leaf that makes it an attractive accent plant.
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.
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 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.
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.
These vines are speedy growers. Sweet potato vines grow fast after the slips mature at 6 to 8 weeks.
Sweet potato vines are tolerant of different soil pHs as long as the soil drains well.
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.
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.