Ornamental sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) vines don’t produce edible vegetables, but they do produce an attractive vine. The vine is suitable for use as a houseplant or for growing in an outside hanging basket. They thrive in the intense heat of summer and come in a wide range of colors. Their easy-care nature and low-growing vining habits make them a great addition to an organic garden. When planted among taller shrubs and plants, ornamental sweet potato vines act as a living mulch that helps retain soil moisture and keep weeds from growing.
The more sun these colorful vines receive, the better. Select a full sun location for outside growing and south or west-facing window for indoor containers.
For container growing, create a mix of 50 percent potting soil and 50 percent compost. Fill container to within one inch of top rim, and place sweet potato vine in the center. Water well and place container in a sunny location where the vine will have room to grow either downwards or upwards. Provide a small support for upward growing.
For outdoor planting, till or spade soil to 6 inches deep, then add 2 inches of compost on top and lightly work in into soil. Dig planting hole 6 inches deep, place two inches of compost in the bottom of hole, then set vine in and fill remainder of planting hole with removed soil mixed with 50 percent compost. Water well.
Once vine has become established outdoors, add a light layer of organic mulch from the base of plant to one foot outward all the way around the plant. This will keep the vine from coming into contact with the soil. Also, as the organic mulch slowly decomposes it will improve soil structure and fertility.
Water when top of soil is dry to the touch or when leaves begin to wilt.
Easy-to-grow ornamental sweet potatoes work well as a low-growing bedding plant, summer ground cover, in hanging baskets and other containers, or trained to climb up a vertical support. When planted among taller shrubs and plants, ornamental sweet potato vines act as a living mulch that helps retain soil moisture and keep weeds from growing. The growth on these plants is very vigorous once they get established.