How to Grow Sweet Potato Vine

Botanical Name: Ipomoea batatas

Mounds of dense, colorful foliage make sweet potato vine a favorite ornamental. They're also fast-growing and practically care-free. 

A favorite of Southern gardeners, sweet potato plants prefer moist, well-drained soil, warm temps and bright light. Give this easy-care ornamental vine what it wants and it'll reward you with three seasons of colorful foliage.

sweet potato vine, ipomoea batatas

Sweet potato leaves offer bold color from spring through fall. You don't need to overwinter -- treat this tender vine as an annual.

In addition to the garden-variety green foliage, you'll find an abundance of new cultivars with striking leaf shapes, in a stunning range of colors: lime green, golden yellow, coppery gold with a tinge of red, and rich, purplish-black. Popular cultivars include lime 'Marguerite', dark-purple 'Blackie' and purple 'Sweet Caroline'.

There is one draw-back with this vigorous has a tendency to take over any space available. It will crowd other plants if you let it.

Don't be afraid to cut mature sweet potato vines back as much as needed to keep it under control. And don't throw away those cuttings, either. They'll root easily if you poke them into moist soil.

Wondering where to grow sweet potato plant?

Its trailing habit makes this ornamental vine ideal for a warm, sunny windowsill. Plant it in a hanging basket -- or a window box -- and let its lush vines spill over the side. Or use it as an underplanting for tall flowers outdoors.

Allow it to climb a trellis, if you want. This twining climber makes a gorgeous backdrop for tall, upright plants in contrasting colors.

Sweet Potato Vine Care Tips

Origin: Central America

Height: Up to 12 in (30 cm) tall; will spread or trail several feet if not cut back

Light: Moderate to bright light. Will tolerate some direct sunlight.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist at all times. This fast-growing vine is thirsty and dries out quickly in a container, so check it often. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil which can lead to root rot.

Humidity: Try to maintain 40% relative humidity or higher. Brown leaf tips are a symptom of dry air. Indoor air can become extremely dry in winter. It's a good idea to use a humidity gauge near your tropical plants, rather than guess. 

Temperature: Average to warm room temperatures (65-80°F/18-27°C). Wait till it's warm, if you move it outside; this tender vine doesn't like the cold and it won't tolerate frost.

Soil: All-purpose potting mix

Fertilizer: Feed monthly in spring, summer and fall with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Propagation: Stem tip cuttings will dependably grow roots. Just stick the cut ends in moist potting mix -- or put them in a glass of water. They'll take root in a few weeks.

  1. Home
  2. Houseplants A-Z