Ornamental Sweet Potatoes Riding A Wave

You don’t have to drive very far in any Texas city before you’ll encounter vigorous, sprawling ornamental sweet potatoes. Grown for their handsome foliage in shades of dark green, lemony green, purple and white, these plants will tumble out of baskets and large patio pots and clear across large beds in your landscape. They’re colorful, and they’re also very durable. They do best with morning sun and a little mid-afternoon shade, but they’re equally at home in full sun.

As to whether they’re actually true sweet potatoes, you’ll find out when you empty the beds after frost. You’ll find tubers as big as grapefruit (and larger), and your next question will be whether or not you can eat them. You really don’t want to – they certainly won’t come close to the quality of grocery store sweet potatoes.

Use ornamental sweet potatoes to your best landscaping advantage. Use them for contrasts of colors. The lemon-green variety called ‘Marguerite’ looks especially nice with red, rust, orange, pink and blue flowers and foliage. The deep purple type called ‘Blackie’ needs to contrast with lighter colors such as yellow, pink, blue and light green.

Fertilize ornamental sweet potatoes every month with a high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen plant food, and keep them moist at all times. When frost happens, trim off the dead growth and dig out the tubers. New plants are so inexpensive in the spring that you really don’t want to mess with over-wintering the old ones.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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