Plants

Sweet Potato Vine Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Ipomoea batatas”

Read our guide to Sweet Potato Vine plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Ipomoea batatas”

Updating your garden with plants that have unique foliage is a great way to add interest to your horticultural space. The sweet potato vine, unlike its cousin, is not made for eating, but rather for decoration. It has attractive leaves and a penchant for vining which is a great way to decorate your home or exterior garden naturally. It is a warm-season annual which gives off a tropical look and can give your garden life with its varied colors and forms.

This plant loves to grow and crawl over any surface it encounters. If you are looking for a trailing accent or even for colorful ground cover, then the sweet potato vine is a great option to consider. Some of the newer forms of sweet potato vine are highly resistant to disease and also come in a wider variety of colors. Planting a trellis or having a wall-bound plant not your thing? No problem, there are also smaller sweet potato vine strains that are bred for container living and more compact spaces.

Though tubers are usually edible, Ipomoea batatas are not suitable for consumption. The leaves of these plants are very toxic to animals and humans alike. The leaves also contain the main ingredient that is also present in LSD, to if your pets happen to take a nibble, seek treatment immediately. Aside from these warnings, the sweet potato vine is easy to care for plant that any level of gardener will be able to nurture.

About the Sweet Potato Vine

  • Ipomoea batatas plants tend to have richer colors when allowed full sunlight.
  • Sweet potato vines often have mottled or variegated leaves.
  • The Ipomoea batatas leaves come in deeply lobed, lacy, and heart shapes.
  • Sweet potato vines are very toxic to pets if consumed.
  • Ipomoea batatas plants are very intolerant of frost and very cold temperatures.
  • Sweet potato vines grow best in well-draining soil.
  • Humid conditions are ideal for the sweet potato vine.
  • This plant grows quickly so it will need to be pruned often to prevent overgrowth.
  • A slow-release fertilizer during planting is the best for the sweet potato vine.

Sweet Potato Vine Features: An Overview

  • The botanical name of the sweet potato vine is Ipomoea batatas.
  • Ipomoea batatas are not edible.
  • The sweet potato vine tends to vine as it matures.
  • Ipomoea batatas is a cousin of the well-loved sweet potato vegetable.
  • This plant develops a wide array of colors and shapes.
  • This is a fast-growing plant that can reach lengths of up to 10 feet.
  • New sweet potato vine breeds are mostly disease resistant.
  • The Ipomoea batatas is a warm-weather annual plant.
  • The average height of the Ipomoea batatas is 16 inches tall but can grow larger.
  • The sweet potato vine blooms once in the spring.
  • Ipomoea batatas plants thrive when exposed to full sunlight.
  • Older varieties of Ipomoea batatas produce tubular flowers in the spring.
Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet Potato Vine

Growing The Sweet Potato Vine

Growing the sweet potato vine is pretty simple. The best time to plant the vine is in the early part of spring or right at the start of summer. Basically, as long as there is not frost danger, then you can expect the Ipomoea batatas to thrive. They are rather sensitive to the cold, so if the ground temperature regularly drops below 45 degrees, chances are they will get damaged or even die off. Any temperature under 55 degrees will hinder proper growth. The best place to plant Ipomoea batatas is in an area that gets plenty of sun and that has soil that drains well. For indoor or potted sweet potato vines, make sure to use well-draining soil that is rich and nutritious.

The best place to plant this colorful vine is in a sunny area that has ample humidity. While they do love heat, dry heat like the desert will cause plant failure. You can house the sweet potato vine indoors if you live in a cooler climate. Simply make sure that you choose a wall that faces south into the sun and that you maintain the proper level of humidity in the room. Patios that face the sun are also ideal since they will absorb enough heat for your vine to thrive. Another great thing about Ipomoea batatas plants used for ground cover is that they are generally deer resistant so you don’t have to worry about your plants being grazed overnight.

Watering The Sweet Potato Vine

Watering the Ipomoea batatas plant is rather simple. They need to maintain a moderate moisture level and once weekly watering should suffice. If your area gets very hot, you can water a bit more, but make sure not to saturate the plant. They should also not be allowed to dry out. You can add water-soluble fertilizer once a month during a watering session if you prefer this method of feeding over slow-release pellets. The sweet potato vine prefers moisture, so if you plan to keep yours indoors an indoor humidifier may be a good idea.

This herbaceous perennial needs well-draining soil to prevent root rot. A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal for both indoor and outdoor growth. Being that this is a tropical plant, it is a good idea to maintain a general humidity level of at least 60%, though it can survive on less. Mature sweet potato vines are drought-tolerant and can tolerate periodic stretches of low-water, but they will grow abundantly when frequently watered. You can easily tell if your plants are not getting enough water because the leaves will begin to wilt. Simply increase the amount or frequency of your watering sessions to accommodate their need.

Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet Potato Vine

Propagating The Sweet Potato Vine

Propagating sweet potato vines is very easy since this fast-growing plant loves to spread its roots. You can take clippings in the early spring, just be very careful with the stems since they are highly fragile. After removing the mother plant from the pot, with a gentle hand loosen the roots. Separate a clump from the main plant and put it aside for your new plant. Replant the mother vine in rich soil. Take your new plant and place it in a hole that is about mid-depth in the soil of the container. Loosely pack down the soil around the base of the plant, but don’t make it too compact. Water the new plant well but make sure that the soil drains completely. When planting in the ground, space your new plants about a half of foot to one foot apart. If you are using a large Ipomoea batatas specimen, then you will need to plant the cuttings at least two feet apart.

The sweet potato vine can be a prolific grower, so make sure to prune it when it becomes too leggy. For plants that are pot bound, you can trim it to help it maintain an attractive shape. All-purpose potting soil is best for indoor plants while outdoor Ipomoea batatas plants can be covered in well-draining compost. When you plant the cuttings, use a slow-release fertilizer for the best results.

In Conclusion About The Sweet Potato Vine

The sweet potato vine is an attractive plant that will make a nice addition to any home or garden. If you are having trouble getting grass to grow, it also is a great alternative for groundcover. It grows well in warm and humid climates. Direct sunlight is ideal for this aggressive vine and the more sun it gets, the more vibrant its leaves will be. It is easy to grow, care for and propagate making it a great plant for novice gardeners and veterans alike.

The Ipomoea batatas is a very hardy plant and are able to resist the majority of common houseplant diseases and pests. Most modern variations of Ipomoea batatas have actually been bred to be pest and disease resistant. The main draw of the Ipomoea batatas is how easy it is to care for and its brightly colored foliage. It does flower once in the spring, however, the flowers are not overly vibrant or notable. The vine is sensitive to cold and frost, so you can save cuttings or tubers indoors to be replanted in the spring. Indoor sweet potato vines simply need a warm sunlit place to survive the winter months.

There are a few different varieties so make sure to consider where you plan to house your Ipomoea batatas before choosing which to take home. Semi-compact Ipomoea batatas are great for border edging and vining, compact varieties are more suited to indoor gardens and large trailing varieties are the best for those looking for ground cover. With so many colors and styles to choose from, you are sure to find one that fits your garden.

 

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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