Dictionary of Flowers: Ipomea Batatas
(Sweet Potato Vine)

Ipomea Batatas (Sweet Potato Vine). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Field Outdoor Spaces and Flickr
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Ipomea Batatas (Sweet Potato Vine). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Field Outdoor Spaces and Flickr

  • Ipomea Batatas
  • Common name: sweet potato vine
  • Family:  Convolvulaceae
  • Category: annual, frost sensitive perennial in USDA zones 9 to 11
  • Height: 8" to 18"
  • Width: 9" to 18"
  • Sun/part shade
  • Blooms: grown for foliage
  • Growth habit: trailing. Used as a spiller in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, evenly moist,  well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers.
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, groundcover, indoor plant
  • Diseases: generally disease free
  • Pests: thrips

Ornamental sweet potato vine is a recent introduction to the garden scene. The varieties grown as ornamentals are cultivated for their foliage and their useful trailing habit, when spilling down containers.

They are tropical perennials from South America that prefer warm soil and air temperatures. 

Just like the edible variety, sweet potato vine has a tuberous root and it can't be grown from seed. 

Leaves can be heart shaped or deeply lobed. Leaf color ranges from chartreuse green to deep burgundy.

Ipomea batatas is best grown in full sun. The soil must be fertile to average and kept moist at all times. Drought stresses the plant.

Water regularly when grown in containers, and use moist retentive potting mix to help keep moisture levels constant during the hottest part of the summer.

Maintenance is easy. Prune as needed to keep plant from getting leggy. The tubers can be dug out after summer, allowed to dry and kept indoors in a cool, dark place to replant when the soil warms up in late spring.

Fertilize with an all purpose liquid formula when grown in containers or use a slow release granular formula when first planting the vine.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Sweet potato vine is available in nurseries during spring and summer.

They can be propagated by division of the tuber or by cuttings. Take cuttings during spring and summer, about six inches long.

Remove all leaves but the top two and place cutting in water or a moist mixture of perlite and potting mix.

They root easily without the use of rooting powder. Cuttings can be wintered indoors in a sunny windowsill.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Sweet potato vine is not usually bothered by pests or disease. If thrips or beetles become a problem, use insecticide or insecticidal soap

Popular varieties:

  • Ipomea batatas 'Blackie' - dark foliage, nearly black. Cut leaf cultivar
  • Ipomea batatas 'Margarita' - lime green, heart shaped foliage
  • Ipomea batatas 'Ace of Spades' - nearly black foliage, heart shaped
  • Ipomea batatas 'Sweet Caroline' series - available in both heart shape and cut leaf. Colors range from chartreuse to light green to purple.
  • Ipomea batatas 'Sweetheart' series - heart shaped foliage, green to purple or nearly black
  • Ipomea batatas 'Illusion' series - deeply lobed cut foliage. Color ranges from pale green to purple
  • Ipomea batatas 'Tricolor' - green leaves with white and pink edges

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

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