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    How to Plant and Grow Sweet Potato Vine: A Thorough Guide

    Ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) is a seasonal tropical plant adorned with exotic-looking foliage that comes in many shades of green, red, purple, brown, and gold. In this guide, we'll cover several varieties and everything you need to know to plant and grow them.
    blog post authorShrish Tariq
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    Sweet potato vine in a pot indoors.

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    Ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) is a seasonal tropical plant adorned with exotic-looking foliage that comes in many shades of green, red, purple, brown, and gold. 
    This decorative plant creates a season-long interest in gardens and interiorscapes with lush, brightly colored, lance to heart-shaped leaves and vining growth habit. 
    In addition, this eye-catching wine plant is a rapid grower with an easygoing growth habit (even continues thriving in the lingering heat of August)
    Let’s learn how to plant and grow the sweet potato vine outdoors and indoors for those that dare take the risk inside their home!

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    About Sweet Potato Vine

    Ipomoea batatas is a tender perennial and “spiller” plant of the morning glory or Convolvulaceae family. This iconic spiller plant decorates the summer gardens with its trailing stems, densely packed with lacy or heart-shaped leaves. 
    Its eye-catching leaves add a splash of colors from deep purple, red, and black to many shades of bright chartreuse, like yellow and lime green, depending on the cultivars. This plant also rarely produces flowers in soft lavender pink in summer, which looks similar to morning glory blooms.
    Sweet potato vine is native to the tropical climates of America and has a mounding growth habit with trailing stems. The stems of fully grown vines are 10 to 16 inches long with a trailing or sprawling of 10 feet. 
    With its spreading growth rate and exquisite foliage, this tropical plant is a vigorous grower with foliage similar to maple, ivy, and philodendron. Thus offering growers many options to creatively use this plant in gardens beds and indoors as a houseplant and for hanging baskets. This vining plant also makes an excellent filler in container gardens and bare landscapes.
    With its long-lasting foliage colors and trailing stems, ornamental sweet potato makes a perfect ground cover and can be trained vertically to climb a trellis or drape down a wall for a dramatic statement.
    Genus name Ipomoea of this tropical plant comes from the Greek word ‘ips’ meaning “worm,” and homoios, meaning “resembling,” which refers to worm-like twining stems. While the species name batatas are derived from Taíno, which is for its tubers.
    Do sweet potato vine plants come back every year?
    Ornamental sweet potato vine plants are perennials in the USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11 and continue to thrive and flourish year after year with the best foliage display. While in areas eight and below, these vining plants are grown as summer annuals to add more colors to the pollinator garden.
    Can you eat sweet potato from sweet potato vine?
    Ornamental sweet potato tubers are edible but extremely bitter compared to sweet potato food crop tubers. These food crop tubers are super delicious and of much better texture than the ornamental types. So the grower should grow ornamental sweet potatoes for home gardens as decorative plants and food crops and choose a variety that is only bred for eating.
    What’s the difference between sweet potato and sweet potato vine?
    The ornamental sweet potato vine is the cultivar of the edible sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) that is grown for its attractive foliage and vining growth habit. Three of the most widespread cultivars of ornamental sweet potato vine are ‘Margarita,’ ‘Blackie,’ and ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze.’ These are well-known ground cover edging and hanging baskets plants.

    Landscape Uses

    Grow in Containers
    Ornamental sweet potato vines are versatile ‘spiller’ plants that offer many designs for summer heat tolerant or rock and container gardens. In containers, combine them with other warm-season annuals such as coleus, begonias, and purple fountain grass to add a wide array of colors and brighten the bare garden spaces.
    Grow off Windowsills
    Plant the trailing Sweet Potato Vine cultivar, such as ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze,’ in a sunny window box that will spill over the edge of the box. For a more dramatic statement, combine it with upright purple fountain grass, coleus, and dracaena.
    Grow on mixed borders or train up a trellis
    Grow them in front of mixed borders for mounding sweet potato vines for multiple colors and effects. 
    Another best feature of the ornamental sweet potato vines is they can be trained up a trellis or arbor with other vines such as firecracker vine, scarlet runner bean, and morning glory. This will decorate the particular sitting area of your garden while saving space.

    Sweet Potato Vine Plant Care Guide

    Sweet potato vine, Water Spinach, Ornamental Sweet potato, Edible Sweet Potato                                    
    Ipomoea batatas
    Convolvulaceae (morning glory)
    6 to 10 feet long and 8 to 10 feet wide
    Edible vine, Annual, Groundcover, Warm season vegetable
    Climbing, spreading
    Perennial in 9 to 11, annual in the growing area below 9 
    Deer/rabbit resistant, showy foliage, ground cover
    Purple, black, red, chartreuse, gold, purple, bronze, brown
    Full sun (6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily), Partial shade
    Moist, rich, well draining, loamy soil
    Water once a week to garden sweet potato vine and every other day to potted plants
    75 to 80°F (Do not let the temperatures drop below 60°F that can delay the growth)
    Apply slow-release fertilizer once a month
    Stem cuttings, tubers, seeds
    Container, hanging baskets, pollinator, and edible garden
    White petunia, Coleus, Geranium, Cordyline, Pink salvia, peace lily, pink polka dot plant
    Toxic to cats, dogs, and horses (it contains the hallucinating compound lysergic acid diethylamide)
    Spider Mites, Root Rot, Aphids, Mealybugs, Whiteflies, Fungus Gnats
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    Common name
    Botanical name
    Mature plant
    Plant type
    Growth rate 
    Growth habit
    USDA hardiness zone
    Valuable features
    Foliage color
    Companion plants
    Where to buy
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    How to Plant Sweet Potato Vine

    This vining perennial has purple flowers and palmate leaves
    Image Source:Photo by bignoze on Getty ImagesThis vining perennial has purple flowers and palmate leaves
    Ornamental sweet potato vine thrives in full sun to partial shade conditions in fertile and well-draining soils. They add colors and interest as ground cover or patio plants all year round in the USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. These vining plants quickly grow through stem cuttings and tubers with spring (USDA zones below 8) and early fall planting time.
    Do sweet potato vines need to climb?
    Ornamental sweet potato vines are prized and grown for trailing or spreading stems that sprawl along the soil and cover bare garden areas. However, these trailing stems can be vertically trained to climb vigorously over stationary structures or trellis.
    What’s the best place to plant sweet potato vines?
    Sunny garden sites with moist and well-draining soils are ideal for these deer-resistant sweet potato vine plants.
    Can you grow the sweet potato vine indoors?
    Sweet vine plants are easy to grow and maintain indoors in large decorative containers such as spiller or filler plants. For best growth, place containers in a sunny window and plant them in planters with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil conditions.

    When To Plant Sweet Potato Vine

    This fast-growing herbaceous plant is a versatile perennial indoors and outdoors that prefers warm soil temperatures and sunny days for the healthiest growth. The ideal time to plant the ornamental sweet potato vine is spring or early summer when the soil temperatures exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    Within their hardiness zones (9 to 11), the ornamental sweet potato vine can be planted year-round (temperature remains above 70 degrees Fahrenheit) with no dangers of frost. 
    However, in the USDA zones eight and below, treat these foliage plants as annuals and plant them in garden beds when the temperature is above 60°F, which is early or mid-summer months. 
    As the soil temperature drops below 50°F, dig up the tubers grown just below the soil surface in autumn before the first frost of the season and store them indoors to use for the following year.
    Pro Tip Icon
    Save your cuttings during winter time in cooler zones for next year planting.
    If you live in the USDA hardiness zone below 8, you can take a cutting (10 to 12 inches long) from a healthy stem before the first frost. Soak the cut end in clean water for rooting and later planting in a high-quality potting mix.

    Step By Step Planting For Sweet Potato Vine

    Sweet Potatoes placed in jars of water allowing shoots to form slips which are then removed from the potato and planted
    Image Source:Photo by PlazacCameraman on Getty ImagesSweet Potatoes placed in jars of water allowing shoots to form slips which are then removed from the potato and planted
    The ornamental sweet potato vine can be grown through stem cuttings (slips) or tubers with great ease and success. To plant and grow these vigorous growers through tubers, follow these steps;
    1. Select a sunny garden site with fertile and well-draining soil. These active growers can tolerate varying light conditions, such as from partial to full shade, but they produce the most prosperous leaves in full sun to partial shade locations. While in colder climates, choose a warm area, like south facing wall, to provide ample lighting for the sweet potato vine.
    2. After site selection, add organic matter and perlite to the ground to improve nutrition and aeration.
    3. Dig a hole in the selected garden site twice the size of the tuber. Before planting, soak the tuber in water for 1 to 2 hours to rehydrate it because the pre-soaked tubers will sprout within 2 to 3 weeks compared to others.
    4. Plant the tubers in garden beds with a spacing of 12 inches for smaller varieties and 2 to 3 feet for more giant vines.
    5. Cover the tuber with a thin garden soil layer and water well to moisten the base medium.
    6. Ideally, the tubers will sprout in two to three days with ideal soil moisture conditions.

    Planting Sweet Potato Vine Indoors

    Growing and maintaining the sweet potato vine indoors is easy and demands the same effort and care as the ground-maintained plant. It looks great in hanging baskets and windowboxes as a spiller plant with other warm-season annuals as a houseplant.


    Start the tubers six to 12 weeks before the last frost date of the season to grow the ornamental sweet potato plant indoors in larger containers. It will provide the seedlings enough time to develop robust tubers and lush foliage.


    Submerge the bottom end of the tuber into jar For this, submerge half of the ornamental sweet potato tuber into the clean water jar and position it in a warm and sunny window.


    Change the water in the jar every other day while keeping the bottom of the tuber submerged.


    New growths will appear in 3 to 4 weeks Within three to four weeks, the new green shoots will emerge from the tubers' top and sides, known as slips. Once these slips are a few inches long with young leaves, separate them from the tuber by twisting motion.


    Soak the end of slips in shallow water for rooting Now set the bottom end of young stems or slips in a shallow dish filled with water while the top leaves rest on the edge. In four to seven days, new roots will emerge from the water-soaked end of the slip. Be sure not to disturb or damage these tender roots to assist slips in transforming into new plants. Once the roots are one inch long, transplant the stems into a larger container with drainage holes.


    Transplant the young stems into a well-draining, big decorative container Fill the container with well-drained soil (the soil level should remain one inch below the rim). Make a hole in the center of potting soil with a pencil. Plant gently one to two slips per hole and  pat the soil around the crown to firm the plant. Water thoroughly and move the container to a warm and sunny window location. Water regularly to keep the soil moist and maintain temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit so those slips continue to grow and bring colors to indoor spaces. Alternatively, you can combine the slips with other flowering plants in large decorative containers as a filler plant for compelling colors at the entryway.

    What to plant with Sweet Potato Vine

    Ornamental sweet potato vine is a versatile plant with many season-long uses in gardens and landscapes. This gorgeous foliage plant combines well in containers with upright purple fountain grass, coleus, and cordyline as a filler plant. 
    It also makes the best companion plant with morning glory, geraniums, and white petunias, making perfect color contrasts and decorating outdoors.

    Sweet Potato Vine Care

    Sweet potato plant grow in greenhouse for harvest the slips for sale
    Image Source:Photo by piyaset on Getty ImagesSweet potato plant grow in greenhouse for harvest the slips for sale
    As indoor and outdoor vining plants, sweet potato vine plants are easy to grow and maintain. These plants are heat and drought-tolerant with resistance to deer and rabbit damage. Follow these sweet potato vine care tips to add season-long colors to your garden. By following these care tips, beginner or seasonal plant parents can enjoy this tropical plant in their gardens as a summer plant and in winter as a houseplant.

    💧 Water

    During the growing season, ornamental sweet potato vine plants need regular watering and grow prolifically in moderately moist soil. Water these foliage beauties once a week to keep the soil evenly moist when grown as ground cover edging plants. 
    The container-grown vining plants need more water so apply every other day to maintain the optimum soil moisture levels. Be sure not to overwater this plant because the lovely wet soil leads to root rot with foliage yellowing. 
    Also, plant them in well-draining soil whether you grow them as a container or ground because good soil drainage will ensure the healthy growth of plants.

    ☀️ Sunlight

    Sweet potato vine plants grow in varying light conditions based on their cultivars. However, full sun or partial shade (more than six hours of sunlight per day) gives these plants a rich foliage color and a robust root system.
    Pro Tip Icon
    Avoid planting in shade!
    Do not plant them in full shade, as it will impact the plant's ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, causing slower growth.
    As an indoor plant in hanging baskets, position them in a warm and sunny window for the best lighting conditions. In warmer zones, keep the planter 3 to 4 feet away from the sunny windowsill, especially south-facing windows, to protect the foliage from the scorching afternoon sun. 
    On the other hand, in cooler climates, situating the container in east, south, and west-facing windows is ideal for ample lighting.

    🌡️ Temperature and Humidity

    This vining plant of tropical climate thrives best in soil temperatures between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. So aim to maintain this ideal temperature range for indoor and outdoor plants. 
    Within their hardiness zone, the temperature remains above 70 degrees Fahrenheit from early February until October, making a long growing season for this plant. In the growing zone 8 and below, grow them as an annual plant in mid-June until digging up the tubers in early fall to prevent frost damage.

    How to Overwinter Sweet Potato Vine

    As the soil temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the foliage begins turning brown and yellow, meaning the underground tuber is entering its dormant state. At this time, there are two ways to overwinter sweet potato vine. Bring the containers indoors, cut back the stems to the potting soil, and keep the tuber in a cool and dark place.
    Another way is to dig up the tuberous roots and let them air dry for one week, then store them in a paper bag covered with vermiculite or peat. Keep the tubers dry to prevent tuber rotting, and use them next year to grow vine plants.

    🌱 Best Soil for Sweet Potato Vine

    As the garden ground cover and container plants, sweet potato vine plant requires moist and well-draining soil amended with organic material. A healthy and well-drained base medium ensures vigorous growth and lush foliage throughout the growing season. 
    For containers, prepare high-quality potting soil by combining 1 part of well-composted manure, two parts of soil with a handful of sand and perlite. 

    🌻 Fertilizer

    The healthy and bigger tubers develop healthy sweet potato vine plants with vigorous growth, meaning no need for fertilizer applications. However, growers can apply a slow-release fertilizer at the planting time to encourage rapid tuber sprouting.

    😎 Pruning and Maintenance

    Sweet potato vine plants are vigorous growers with frequent pruning and trimming requirements. Continuous pruning throughout the growing season keeps the plant tidy and in manageable size. Prune off the leggy stems and dry, drooping leaves. Cut back the tips of the vine to encourage more growth of leaf buds, promoting bushier growth. Also, cut about ¼  above the leaf node to assist more vertical growth.
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    Sweet Potato Vine Varieties

    With its lush, attractive foliage and vigorous growth habit, the ornamental sweet potato vine is an accent plant in outdoors and container gardens. It also comes in various leaf shapes, colors, and growth habits, serving multiple gardening purposes. 
    These are the widespread cultivars of Ipomoea batatas discussed here;
    Sweet Potato Vine ‘Margarita’ (Ipomoea batatas ‘Margarita’ or ‘Marguerite’) is popular of all sweet potato vine cultivars and features the lime green or chartreuseheart-shaped leaves. It has a mounding growth habit with trailing stems (can be trained up to trellis) and perfectly grows in containers. As a mounding plant, it grows to 4 to 10 inches tall with the same spread, and as a climber grows up to 6 feet long.
    Sweet Potato Vine ‘Blackie’ (Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’) is an exotic-looking cultivar with dark purple foliage, similar to maple leaves. It reaches a mature height of 6 to 10 inches with 4 to 5 feet wide. With its adult size, ‘Blackie’ is an excellent ground cover edging and an accent in containers. It produces more flowers than other cultivars.
    Sweet Potato Vine ‘Illusion Emerald Lace’ (Ipomoea batatas ‘Illusion Emerald Lace’) features yellow-green foliage with 1 feet height and 3 feet spread. It is a mounding varietal vine that looks excellent in garden beds, borders, and containers.
    Sweet Potato Vine ‘Tricolor’ is a true beauty with its tricolored foliage and combines well with pink salvia, purple fountain grass, and dark purple alternanthera in containers. It grows up to 12 inches high and 3 feet wide and is sensitive to cooler temperatures than other cultivars. It is also a slow grower than other ornamental sweet potato vines.
    Sweet Potato Vine ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime’ (Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime’) is a beautiful compact cultivar with lime chartreuse leaves. It is an excellent plant for small spaces and containers with a mature height of 6 to 16 inches tall and 20 to 36 inches spread. ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime’s heart-shaped leaves pair well with mounding petunias and upright purple fountain grass. 
    Sweet Potato Vine ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’ (Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’) is a unique cultivar with brownish orange lobed foliage with light green undertones. It has a trailing spreading growth habit, making it the perfect choice for hanging baskets, ground covers, and as an edging plant for the garden bed.
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    🔥 Join 52,560+ other plant parents.Bookmark this Sweet Potato Vine care guide for later.
     Access this guide anywhere, anytime. You can even download it as a PDF and print it out for free! Just pop in your email below, and we’ll send you a bookmark later alongside some plant care tips.

    How to Propagate Sweet Potato Vine

    Sweet potato vine plants are easy to propagate through stem cuttings, and the best time for their propagation is spring (when growing from tubers for gardens) or early fall for stem cuttings. 
    Here’s the complete process to propagate the sweet potato vine through stem cuttings;
    1. Select a healthy stem and cut off the 8 to 10 inches long branch with sharp and disinfected garden snippers. Ensure the cutting has enough leaf buds and tender top leaves for food processing.
    2. Remove the bottom leaves, submerge the cut end in a clean water jar, and place it in a south-facing window. Within a few days, the roots will appear. At this stage, you can keep the cutting in a water-filled jar through the winter. Change the water every two to three days to discourage microbial growth while keeping roots constantly in water.
    3.  As the danger of frost passes, transplant the sweet potato vine in moist garden soil and a sunny spot.
    4. Or plant it in a container with drainage holes filled with high-quality potting soil mix.

    Common Sweet Potato Vine Problems

    Sweet potato sprouting against a orange background
    Image Source:Photo by Adene Sanchez on Getty ImagesSweet potato sprouting against a orange background
    Sweet potato vine is susceptible to fungal pathogens and common disorders when grown in a poor growth medium. These problems turn its beautiful foliage to brown, black,  wilted, and even plant death.

    Twig Blight - Brown or graying tips of branches

    It is caused by the fungal pathogen Phomopsis vaccinii and characterized by the development of leaf spots, withered tips, and dying back of the young and brown branches. The stems infected with Phomopsis vaccinii during summertime may wilt, turning their foliage brown and falling prematurely. 
    Remove the broken and symptomatic twigs and leaves during the growing season. Also, avoid overhead irrigation of the sweet potato vine to prevent the dispersal of fungal spores and disease spread.
    Why is my Sweet Potato Vine turning yellow?
    Fungal root rot and overwatering turn the sweet potato vine plant yellow with wilted and deformed leaves. To prevent the plant from worse root damage, repot it in a fresh and clean container with a well-draining potting mix. Prune off the damaged aboveground plant parts to save the plant’s energy from reviving the damaged and yellow leaves.  When planting in the ground, plant these trailing vines 3 feet apart to ensure good air circulation between vines. Also, plant in a sunny spot for better water absorption and root growth.
    Why is my Sweet Potato Vine losing leaves?
    Root rot is the cause of defoliation in the sweet potato vine when watered too often without allowing the soil to dry out completely.
    Why is my Sweet Potato Vine not growing?
    Poor growing conditions like too much watering, overfertilization, and temperature fluctuations reduce the growth of ground and potted sweet potato vine. Also, fungal infections can damage the plant’s tuberous roots.  To keep your plant thriving, water and fertilize wisely. Always perform a soil test before watering and fertilization. Remove the old and brown leaves to save plant energy and encourage healthy growth.
    Why is my Sweet Potato Vine turning purple?
    The sweet potato vine's purple leaves are a sign of poor soil nutrition, especially phosphorus deficiency. Fertilize the plant throughout the growing season with a balanced houseplant food to ensure healthy growth.

    Common Sweet Potato Vine Pests

    Close-up ็Hole from pest apanese sweet potato leaves
    Image Source:Photo by Supersmario on Getty ImagesClose-up ็Hole from pest apanese sweet potato leaves
    In ideal growing conditions, sweet potato vine plants are resistant to common garden insect pests. However, they succumb to pest infestations in poorly drained soils, nutrition, and too much watering. Because these factors reduce the plant's vigor to fight pest infestations, these are the most common pests;


    They are sap feeders and appear as tiny white creatures less than 1/10 inches long. Whiteflies infest the underside of leaves and new leaf buds to suck out the plant juices and nutrients. Their constant feeding impacts the sweet potato vine’s healthy growth and vigor. 
    Badly infested plants will produce soft and yellow foliage that droops before maturing. Whiteflies also excrete sweet sugary substances that attract the black ants and sooty mold fungus growth, interfering with the plant’s ability to synthesize food and flourish. 
    Remove the infested foliage and stems to get rid of whiteflies. When you notice their population is increasing on your ornamental sweet potato plants, start the applications of neem oil dilution with a weekly plan.

    Sweet Potato Weevils

    This is the most destructive pest of the sweet potato vine and feeds on all plant parts (leaves, stems, and underground roots). While their larvae only feed on young roots and tunnel through roots.
    Due to larvae feeding, the aboveground plant part starts wilting with stunted growth and defoliation.
    Remove the garden debris like dead fallen leaves of plants; they act as hiding and breeding places for Sweet potato weevils. Also, destroy weeds from the garden that may serve as alternate hosts for them.


    Like whiteflies, aphids feed on plant sap through their piercing-sucking mouthparts. Their feeding damage is also similar to other sap feeders, such as yellowing and curling of leaves. They also transmit plant viruses, making it difficult for them to survive and thrive.
    Black ants and sooty mold fungus growth on leaves is a sign of their infestations, so remove the leaves covered with fungal growth. Wash off the leaf surfaces with soapy water and insecticidal soap spray.

    Where to Buy Sweet Potato Vine?

    You can buy this ornamental sweet potato vine with its popular cultivars from Neverland. For care guide and propagation tips, visit our blog today.

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