First, it was fiddle leaf ficus, then banana plants, and now sweet potato vines are officially the greenery obsession of the moment. Searches on Pinterest for it are up by nearly 300 percent. But what exactly are sweet potato vines—aside from like, really pretty? Inquiring plant ladies want to know.
First off, sweet potato vines don’t actually grow those delightful tubers that we’re all obsessed with. “They’re related to the sweet potatoes that you eat, but they have been hybridized to come in really fun colors and shapes…The root part, which would be the part that you eat, has gone away,” explains Liz Graznak, owner of Happy Hollow Farms, a USDA certified organic farm located in Missouri. “They’re grown for the ornamental leaves.”
These ornamental leaves are what make sweet potato vines especially Instagram-worthy. They come in a variety of colors—green, black and purple, and red—and shapes. However, Graznak notes that these aren’t the heartiest plants. Translation: They don’t do well in inclement weather or indoors, for that matter. “It’s considered an annual,” she says. “If you were in California, then you could plant it and have it year-round. But where I am, you only have it for the summer.” They tend to really thrive between May and August.
If you’re looking to introduce a sweet potato vine into your yard, they’re usually easy to find. “I’ve seen them at garden centers, and I’ve seen them at hardware stores,” Graznak says. Once you get them home, they’re chill to take care of (the whole dying in winter thing aside). She recommends planting them in a pot with fertilizer and keeping them in full sunlight. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for watering them, she adds. Just keep an eye on them and give them water when the soil feels dry.
The biggest thing to note, Graznak says, is that they grow very fast—so anticipate that when you choose a pot for them. You don’t want your new plant to feel smushed inside a too-small container—you may also have to lightly prune them. And if you’re looking for landscaping ideas, she says sweet potato vines work well as a bedding plant (or greenery used to fill in garden spaces). Plus, because of their fast-growing vine nature, they can be trained to grow up a support. Versatile, easy to care for, and pretty to look at? We’ve officially hit the plant trifecta.
Speaking of gorgeous plants, here’s how to turn your patio into a literal jungle. And keep your plant babies healthy with these 4 easy tips.
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