Sweet potato vine plants are a garden delight, whether you’re growing it as an ornamental or a food crop.
It’s easy to grow, nearly pest-free, and looks beautiful most of the year. Sweet potato vine can take the intense heat of Southern summers, and may even survive a cold snap.
Even better, you can eat not only the roots, but the leaves of sweet potato vine plant, too!
Sweet potato vine is a relative of the poisonous morning glory vine–however, you can eat sweet potato leaves just like any other leafy green! They’re very nutritious, and taste great stir-fried or boiled.
The foliage can be deep purple, various shades of green, to chartreuse.
Sweet potato vine is attractive enough to be featured right by the front door, and they also provide shade and ground-cover for the plants that I’ve tucked in around them, from daffodils and basil, to sage, and even celery.
Sweet potato vine plants are an excellent addition to a permaculture-style garden, because they have so many uses.
You can buy ornamental varieties of sweet potato vine at a nursery, but a much easier method of growing sweet potato vine is to propagate them from the grocery store!
How do you grow sweet potato vine from slips?
First, go to the store and buy a few fresh, organic sweet potatoes! If you’ve already got sweet potatoes in your pantry that are growing eyes, all the better.
Stick toothpicks in the sweet potatoes and anchor them in a glass jar, just like you did back in elementary school science class.
Fill the jar with enough water that about half of the sweet potato is submerged, then put it in a sunny windowsill. Change the water every few days, and in about a week or two, you will have little stems with leaves growing out of your sweet potato.
Take a sharp knife and slice these off, leaving about a nickel-sized piece of sweet potato root attached to each stem.
Place your collection of stems into a shallow glass jar, and put them back into the windowsill again.
In another week or two, you’ll have a jar full of roots growing from each stem–and voila! You’ve created “slips” for growing sweet potato vine plants.
This is the method we used to propagate sweet potatoes for our garden, and it was one of the easiest and most prolific things we’ve ever grown.
Sweet potato vines are best started with the above method about a month before your last frost date. That way, that they’ll get a good 3-4 months of warm weather once you plant the slips outside.
The vines will happily withstand lots of abuse, including heavy pruning, wildlife browsing, and even foot traffic. Sweet potato vines are perennial in climates warmer than USDA Zone 8 or 9.
Ours have come back two years in a row, and I have to regularly prune them to make room for my other flowers and herbs.
Once the cold weather sets in, you can try digging up the ground under your vines to see if you got any large tubers. Even small ones can be cured and added to a hearty stew or soup. Sweet potato vine can be surprisingly productive!
Have you ever tried growing sweet potato vine plants in your garden?