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Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie'

Ipomoea batatas Blackie, Ornamental sweet potato vineProbably the most common plants used in planters in the Chicago area has to be these ornamental sweet potato vines. You can find the chartreuse colored vine and this darker form growing in all parts of the city in the planters the city maintains. They spill over planters or are used as ground covers to great effect. My favorite is the two common ones you see is "blackie" even though it has a politically incorrect common name I love the dark foliage. I have one planted with my "black" calla lily and oxalis.

A couple of days ago I was out in the garden earlier than usual and was surprised to see the one that was potted was blooming. For years I've admired this plant but I don't recall ever seeing it bloom. If the flower of this sweet potato vine reminds you of a morning glory it is because they are in the same family.

From what I've read it is unusual for the flower to produce fruit or seeds so propagation is usually done by lifting the tuber (that is produced below ground) or by taking cuttings and keeping them in a bright light indoors over the winter. One website I read said that some people will bring the plant indoors and grow it as a houseplant for the winter and bring it out in the spring. I don't know if I'm going to try that because if the spiders and spider mites that flock to these plants outdoors are any indication of what is going to happen indoors I don't want to risk it.


  1. I had sweet potato vines both last year and this year in container plantings, and both years they have bloomed. Very pretty!

  2. I noticed mine blooming yesterday and thought "wow! I didn't know they bloomed! I should blog about it!"

    You beat me to it. Isn't the bloom sweet and pretty though? I had no clue.

  3. Kylee if you have any photos of the green one blooming let me know I'm curious about the bloom color.

    Hi lelo

    Yeah the bloom is pretty awesome. I love how it coordinates with the color of the foliage. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Anonymous12:00 AM

    Oops. That last comment was from me, but with a link to my other blog, not my gardening blog. Ah, such is the life when you have more than one blog!!!

  5. LOL Sassy,

    No worries. I think you can delete it if you want or if you prefer I'll delete it for you.

  6. I remember growing sweet potato plants when we were young. My apartment, unfortunately, only has a northern exposure but I am going to try this to go with my small collection of plants in the window.

  7. I had one of them with the dark leaves a year ago for the first time and overwintered the plant in a cool room inside, and yes you are right, they became some kind of diasease: the leaves looked all crinkled up, it took some time to recover. But now they look alright again,though I havn´t seen a blossom yet. And to my surprise I noticed in the old patio container, where it was potted the year before, new leaves to come up . I must have had forgotten a tuber inside the old soil I left in there.

  8. I tried storing the tubers of the chartreuse one last year, but when I planted them this spring, nothing happened. Will try some cuttings this year, to see if I can overwinter.

  9. Ohiomom,

    I hope you have good luck with your plants you'd be surprised how many will make it through the winter with just the N facing window.


    Did you try letting the tuber go dormant? I really want to overwinter mine but I'm hoping in the fall it will go dormant and I can just store the tubers without the leaves.


    I'll be interested to hear how your cuttings do...I'm going to try them too and hope for the best.

  10. Anonymous1:05 PM

    Hi, I'm from north Alabama and the black sweet potato blooms profusely in this area. I have also had the good luck of having plants come back from seed this past year all by themselves and they were just as beautiful as the original plants. I had no idea that this could be done. I have never seen the green ones bloom and didn't know you could save the tubers. I'll try that next year. Thanks so much for all the info.

  11. Anonymous9:52 AM

    so, can you eat these tubers????
    gardening in Toronto



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