Sweet Potato Vine

Sweet Potato Vine
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
closeup of sweet potato vines
Credit: Peter Krumhardt
closeup of sweet potato vines
Sweet Potato Vine

Gardeners turn to the sweet potato vine for its ability to power through just about anything while bringing interesting shapes, sizes, and colors to a pot or plot. A vigorous annual or a tender perennial, it takes off in summer heat. Typically used as spillers in containers, they also make fantastic groundcovers, typically spreading 4 to 6 feet.

genus name
  • Ipomoea batatas
  • Part Sun
  • Sun
plant type
  • Under 6 inches
  • 3 to 6 feet wide
flower color
foliage color
special features

Po-tAY-to, Po-tAH-to

As the name would imply, these plants produce small tubers that can be eaten like common sweet potatoes or yams. However, they will not be nearly as tasty. Because sweet potato vines are bred to have such unique and colorful foliage, the traits for tubers (the storage roots) have slowly died out. This means the plants will spend more time focusing on growing vigorous, healthy foliage that it does storing nutrients in a root for later use.

Sweet Potato Vine Care Must-Knows

Sweet potato vine loves lots of sunlight and does best in the heat of summer. The plant is grown primarily for its wonderful foliage and tropical feel. Some of the older varieties may grace your garden with a few sporadic lavender blooms, but this is fairly uncommon. If they do, they may remind you of a slightly more tubular morning glory, and for good reason—sweet potato vine is a close cousin to this common annual vine.

New Innovations

Newer varieties of sweet potato vine are compact, have denser leaves, and are less likely to vigorously spread. This makes them perfect for container gardens, because they won't overtake companion plants.

You might notice that the foliage options have increased. The standard chartreuse and purple has expanded to mottled brown, bronze, variegated pink and white, and even almost black. The dark varieties look best in intense sun. In part shade, the nearly black fades to muddled purple and the golds and chartreuse to muted greens. Leaf shapes range from thin, fingerlike to heart shapes. Disease resistance has also been improved.

Sweet Potato Vine Propagation

If you can't bear to give up your plant after the season ends, you can either save the plant or propagate it for next year. Dig up the tuber in fall, before the first freeze, and store it in a cool, dry place. Come late winter/early spring, when the tuber begins to sprout, cut it into pieces, making sure each piece has at least one "eye." Plant the pieces. Cuttings can also be stuck in moist potting soil until rooted, then planted.

More Varieties of Sweet Potato Vine

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Credit: William N. Hopkins

'Blackie' Sweet Potato Vine

Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie' offers purple hand-shape foliage on a vigorous plant.

illusion emerald lace sweet potato vine
Credit: Justin Hancock

Illusion Emerald Lace Sweet Potato Vine

Ipomoea batatas 'Illusion Emerald Lace' is a compact selection with bright lime-green foliage and a mounding/trailing habit. It grows 10 inches tall and spreads 4 feet across.

illusion midnight lace sweet potato vine
Credit: Justin Hancock

Illusion Midnight Lace Sweet Potato Vine

Ipomoea batatas 'Illusion Midnight Lace' has a compact, mounding/trailing habit and rich purple foliage. It grows 10 inches tall and spreads 4 feet across.

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Credit: Marty Baldwin

'Marguerite' Sweet Potato Vine

Ipomoea batatas 'Marguerite' is an especially attractive selection with golden-chartreuse foliage.

sweet caroline sweet potato vine
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

'Sweet Caroline' Sweet Potato Vine

Ipomoea batatas 'Sweet Caroline' offers hand-shape foliage in an intriguing shade of coppery bronze.

Plant Sweet Potato Vine With:

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Garden Plans For Sweet Potato Vine

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This garden plan combines easy, adaptable plants to add color to spots that don't see full sun.

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Meander down a wonderful walkway flanked by a raised bed overflowing with lush swaths of annual flowers.

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