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IPOMOEA batatas

Image of Ipomoea batatas

Felder Rushing

Family

Convolvulaceae

Botanical Name

IPOMOEA batatas

Plant Common Name

Sweet Potato, Sweet Potato Vine

General Description

This is one of those rare plants that's grown as a tasty vegetable and a pretty ornamental. Sweet potato vine is a vigorous, herbaceous, trailing vine that is native to Central America and the Pacific Islands. It offers sweet edible tubers, or sweet potatoes, and attractive foliage.

Ornamental selections have leaves that are heart-shaped or deeply lobed. These vary in color from chartreuse, to bronze or purple and can be variegated, depending on the cultivar. The flowers are funnel-shaped and either pale rosy purple or white. They appear when days are long, nights short and growing conditions favorable.

Sweet potatoes vary widely in skin or flesh color and vigor. The skin can be brown, red brown or purple and the flesh is most often pumpkin orange but deep purple-blue or orange-red fleshed varieties also exist. They are cultivated and eaten in warm climates across the globe. Sweet potatoes can be baked, fried, or steamed and prepared for savory or sweet dishes.

This plant thrives in heat and is as easy as pie to grow. It prefers fertile, well-drained soil and full to partial sun, though plants grown as vegetables should always be grown in full, hot sun. It is also important that sweet potato crops be provided light soil with high tilth and regular water. In fact, it is common practice to plant them in mounded rows, which offer a better growing environment while helping to make the harvest easier. They are usually grown from vine cuttings or starter tubers and rarely from seed. The tubers should be dug and harvested before frost and can be stored for long periods of time. Where hardy, they can be grown and harvested year-round. All have few pest and disease problems.

In warmer zones ornamental selections will survive winters and grow as evergreen perennials, but in temperate zones they are treated as annuals. They are super foliage plants for containers, annual borders and hanging baskets and even make pretty herbaceous groundcovers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 13, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-20' / 0.6m - 6.1m (12)

  • Bloom Time

    Late Fall, Early Winter, Winter

  • Native To

    Latin America and the Caribbean, Central America, Micronesia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Habit

    Vining/Climbing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Purple, Light Green, Chartreuse, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Purple, Light Green, Chartreuse, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Purple, Light Green, Chartreuse, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Purple, Light Green, Chartreuse, Bronze

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Groundcover, Hanging Basket, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    No