Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas) is a member of the Convolvulaceae family. Originating from Tropical America and Mexico, Sweet Potato Vine is a perennial in warmer climates, but is mostly grown as an annual. Hardy in USDA zones 9-11, this plant can grow from about 10 to 16 inches high and trail or spread up to 4-plus feet. Its growth habit is mounding with trailing stems. Heart-shaped foliage comes in a range of colors from chartreuse, green, bronze, red, brown, burgundy, purple, black and variegated. The plants have tolerance of full sun or partial sun and no flowers to deadhead. This is an excellent way to fill a container or bed with all-season color. Sweet potato vine is one of the easiest ways to add spiller color to containers and hanging baskets or cover the ground in summer in a bare area. Sweet Potato Vine is considered toxic to small animals including cats and dogs.
Planting Sweet Potato Vines
Sweet Potato Vines are a versatile indoor or outdoor plant. Often used as a great spiller for a container or as a landscape ground cover, Sweet Potato Vines can also be grown year-round indoors. This plant is tolerant to most soils as long as it is moist, well-drained soil. Sweet Potato vines like full sun, but will grow in partial shade. Plant in late spring after the threat of frost has passed. This vigorous growing vine may need frequent trimming to stay in check.
Watering Sweet Potato Vines
Considered a tropical plant, Sweet potato Vines prefer humid conditions and cannot tolerate dry air. Sweet Potato Vines are a drought-tolerant plant, but will grow best with frequent watering. Water the plant enough to keep the soil evenly moist. This will help to create a humid-like atmosphere that the plant likes. Adding a layer of mulch will help preserve the moisture in the soil. A very thirsty Sweet Potato vine will have wilted leaves. It is best to avoid soggy soil as this can cause root rot.
Fertilizing Sweet Potato Vines
Sweet Potato vines do not require fertilizer to grow. Feeding this plant is optional based on how much you want it to grow. Sweet Potato vines are naturally vigorous growers, so feeding them may increase the need to cut them back more often. Many gardeners like to fertilize at planting time to encourage faster growth. Apply a slow-release granular fertilizer following the packaged instructions
Pruning Sweet Potato Vines
Sweet Potato Vine are vigorous growers and can benefit from frequent trimming. If left unattended, the plant will grow out of control or become leggy. Prune regularly to remove dead and dried leaves. This also encourages healthy new growth. Pruning your indoor or outdoor Sweet Potato Vine helps the plant to grow bushier. Cuttings can be used to start new plants.
Caring For Sweet Potato Vines in Pots
Plant a Sweet Potato Vine in a large pot as a spiller for your arrangement or on its own. Select a container that has drainage holes and plant in standard well-drained potting soil. This plant likes morning sunlight and partial shade in the afternoon. Deep watering once or twice a week is recommended. Fertilizing is not necessary and can cause a leggy plant. Prune regularly to remove dead and dry leaves.
Winter Care for Sweet Potato Vines
The great thing about Sweet Potato Vines is that they are both an indoor and outdoor plant. When winter weather arrives, just bring the container grown plant indoors and grow it as a houseplant until spring. You can also take 10-12 inch cuttings from an existing plant, rinse them with water and place them in a vase with fresh water. When the roots develop, pot it in a new container.