Sweet potato vine, Ipomoea batatas, is an annual plant that is grown for its sprawling habit and colorful, diverse foliage. This fast-growing plant features heart-shaped, lobed, or divided leaves in hues of green, yellow, deep purple, or reddish-bronze. While grown primarily for its foliage, sweet potato vine can produce flowers that are similar to those of morning glory. This annual is commonly grown in containers as a spiller plant, but it can also be grown in tropical gardens and mixed borders. Growing under a foot tall, sweet potato vine will spread if allowed to roam. Although this plant is usually sprawling or mounding, it can also grow up trellises.
Sweet potato vine is hardy to zones 9-11. In colder regions, its tubers can be dug up and stored in a dry, dark place over winter. This plant needs well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral soil and frequent moisture to thrive, although it will not tolerate waterlogged soils. Sweet potato vine is low-maintenance and will not require much fertilizer due to its vigorous growth. Trim back this annual’s foliage to control its spread and prevent it from taking over smaller plantings. While sweet potato vine can grow in full sun to partial shade, it needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day for optimal vegetative growth.
Shrubs To Plant With Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet potato vine can be grown with shrubs in both containers and borders. When growing this plant with trees and shrubs, be sure to plant it at the front of the border so it does not get too much shade. In containers, pair sweet potato vine with dwarf evergreen shrubs such as boxwood and arborvitae for a sophisticated, yet easy-to-care-for combination suitable for any garden. Woody vines, called lianas, such as the annual mandevilla or perennial trumpet creeper can also be planted with sweet potato vines for a vertical, tropical-inspired contrast to the sprawling habit of sweet potato vine.
Perennials To Plant With Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet potato vine can be added to perennial gardens for a verdant ground cover that fills in empty space while suppressing weeds. This annual can be grown with nearly any perennial that prefers full sun. The low-growing, mounded form of sweet potato vine complements the taller, wispy forms of plants and herbs such as salvia, false indigo, chives, and ornamental grasses. In spots that receive more shade, grow sweet potato vine with shade-loving foliage plants such as coral bells. Consider planting colorful sweet potato vines with hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) in moist soils. Combining the lush foliage of sweet potato vine with the large, classic flowers of hardy hibiscus will give a space an instant tropical look.
Annuals To Plant With Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet potato vine’s diverse range of foliage lends itself well to a variety of annual garden styles. For a cottage garden, grow sweet potato vine with classic flowering annuals such as snapdragons, African daisies, and geraniums. For a more tropical look, grow this annual with plants such as caladium, canna lilies, and elephant ear.
Sweet potato vines are also commonly grown in vegetable and herb gardens. Both ornamental and culinary sweet potatoes are the same species, Ipomoea batatas. While the tubers of ornamental sweet potato vines are edible, they are somewhat bitter compared to their culinary cousins. Grow the delicious culinary type in your vegetable garden, where it grows well with edible plants such as nasturtium, dill, and beans.
Best Companion Plants For Sweet Potato Vine in Containers
Sweet potato vine is a mainstay in container plantings. This annual can be planted as a spiller in virtually any container. Allow it to spill down the sides of a pot with trailing petunias, calibrachoas, or livingstone daisies for an abundance of interesting foliage and vibrant flowers. Add unique thriller plants to the pot, such as dwarf papyrus, fiber optic grass, and pineapple sage to create a distinctive focal point. Fill in empty spaces with colorful foliage plants such as coleus, sedges, sedum, and purple shamrock to make layers with varying textures and colors.
Plants Not To Grow With Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet potato vine should not be planted under the shade of large trees and shrubs, as too much shade will result in weaker, slower, or discolored growth. Since sweet potato vines are such vigorous, fast growers, do not plant them with shorter, slow-growing plants that can easily be outcompeted by them. In vegetable gardens, avoid planting sweet potato vine with tomatoes, as these two plants can transfer disease to one another. Also, do not plant sweet potato vine with other sprawling plants such as squash or pumpkins, as these can compete with each other for light and space due to their similar habit.
Best Plants To Grow With Sweet Potato Vine
The best plants to grow with sweet potato vine are those that prefer full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Create a tropical-inspired garden with plants such as hardy hibiscus, caladium, trumpet creeper, mandevilla, and canna lilies. For a more traditional garden look, sweet potato vine can be planted with flowering annuals and perennials like snapdragons, salvia, African daisies, geraniums, and coral bells. In containers, use sweet potato vine as a spiller with filler and thriller plants like dwarf papyrus, coleus, petunias, purple shamrock, and grasses.
Lauren Youngcourt - Published 11-29-2023