There is an ornamental sweet potato vine to suit every garden space. From the bright 'Margarita' to the dark 'Blackie', the various shades of Ipomoea batatas leaves are eye candy for your yard.
Sweet Potato Vine - Blackie
Sweet Potato Vine - Margarita
Here, a bronze sweet potato vine is planted beside a Japanese yew.
The richly-colored leaves of these fast-growing, frost-tender, twining vines are a feast for the eyes if not the stomach.
They are mainly used as summer ground covers and in decorative container gardens.
Ipomoea batatas originates in the tropics so plant the tubers in late spring after the ground has warmed.
Space plants 2-3 feet apart in any exposure except deep shade. Water them regularly for 1 month, then let them go on natural rainfall. If the leaves are wilted in the early morning, the vines need moisture.
You can trim the vines back as they grow to promote bushiness.
The tubers are perennial in USDA zones 9-11. If you live in a colder area, treat them as summer annuals and dig the tubers up before the first frost. Store them dry over the winter and replant them the following spring.
The vines grow to 8 or 9 inches tall and can spread 6 feet.
The bright pink flower in the background is Nerium oleander.
'Blackie' is valued for its deeply-lobed, dark purple foliage which contrasts beautifully with white, silver, or any of the jewel tones.
The very similar 'Black Heart' sweet potato vine features heart-shaped deep purple leaves.
'Margarita' ornamental sweet potato surrounds a fountain in Savannah, GA.
This shocking foliage is what sets 'Margarita' apart from her peers.
The chartreuse 'Chillin Limeade' is just as striking.
'Tricolor' sweet potato vine spilling playfully over a wall.
'Tricolor' may revert back to an all green form when grown as a perennial.
Although they are technically edible, it is not recommended that you eat these tubers. They are not tasty and may be bitter.
Also, they can become quite large so use care when planting them in small containers like the one depicted above. They have been known to break small pots.