Sweet Potato Vine Care - The Ultimate Guide from Proven Winners®

For long-lasting color and sheer drama in the landscape, few plants rival ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas). Grown for its showy, exotic-looking foliage, this fast-growing heat lover comes in various colors and forms.

Sweet potato vine is easy to maintain and tolerant of different growing conditions, including heat, humidity and shade. It is a tender perennial grown as an annual in most regions.

Lush, vigorous foliage occurs in a range of bold hues, including chartreuse, green, bronze, red, brown, burgundy, purple, black and variegated. Leaves are heart-shaped, deeply lobed or lacy, creating textural interest in the landscape. One of the most popular trailing plants for containers, hanging baskets and window boxes. Sweet potato vine can also be grown as a groundcover, trained vertically on a trellis, or allowed to cascade along a wall or slope. 


How to plant:  Plant sweet potato vine in late spring to early summer after all danger of frost is past. Space plants 10-36 inches apart, depending on the variety and how it’s used. 

For containers:  Use high-quality all-purpose potting soil. Make sure containers have drainage holes in the bottom. Plants can be spaced closer together than in the ground.

Soil:  Sweet potato vine prefers moderately rich soil but is tolerant of different pH levels and soil types as long as soil is well-draining.

Fertilizing:  At the time of planting, apply a continuous release fertilizer according to instructions. To encourage faster growth or for container-grown plants, supplement with a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.

Pruning:  Lightly trim plants back as needed.


Sweet potato vine can be used in many ways. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Mass at the front of a mixed border for a sea of continuous color from summer to frost.
  • Alternate contrasting colors such as chartreuse ‘Margarita’ and dark purple ‘Sweetheart Jet Black’ as a quick-growing groundcover along a slope for a dynamic display.
  • Lighten up a shady area with a chartreuse or lime-green variety such as ‘Margarita’ or ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime’.
  • Create a welcoming display by planting a row of hanging baskets along your front porch with complementary colors such as ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime’ and ‘Raven’.
  • Plant sweet potato vines along the top of a rock wall and allow to cascade over the side.
  • Grow sweet potato vine up an arbor or trellis in combination with other quick-growing annual vines such as nasturtium or morning glory for a vertical screen of color.


Does sweet potato vine like sun or shade?

Plants are adaptable to varying light conditions from full sun to shade. Foliage color is richest when plants receive at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Leaves will be greener when planted in shade.

Does a sweet potato vine grow sweet potatoes?

Though sweet potato vines can produce tubers like their edible sweet potato relatives, they were bred for their attractive foliage rather than edible qualities. The tubers are not particularly flavorful, and production can be scant or non-existent.

Is a sweet potato vine an annual or perennial?

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11, sweet potato vine is perennial in warmer climates, but is most often grown as an annual.

How fast does sweet potato vine grow?

These vigorous quick-growing vines can reach 6 feet wide and up to 10 feet long in a single growing season.

Do deer eat sweet potato vine?

Deer will graze on sweet potato vine foliage, so protection should be given in deer-prone areas.

How often do you water sweet potato vine?

Keep soil evenly moist. Make sure plants receive an inch of water per week, or more during extreme heat. Containerized plants will need to be watered more often, every 1-2 days during hot spells. Don’t overwater or allow plants to dry out.


QUESTIONS? Email them to helpdesk@provenwinnersdirect.com, we are happy to help!


Contributors: Janet Loughrey