Richard Bogren, Owings, Allen D.
Ornamental sweet potatoes are popular warm-season annuals for adding foliage color to the summer landscape. The original varieties include plants with leaves that are chartreuse-lime green (Marguerite), blackish purple (Blackie, Black Beauty, Ace of Spades) and tricolored (Pink Frost). Now we have bronze- and red-foliaged varieties.
Recently introduced ornamental sweet potato varieties have various leaf shapes and growth habits, too. These sweet potatoes have been selected for shorter stems between the leaves and smaller roots. They are more compact than most other ornamental sweet potato varieties.
Some of the new sweet potatoes are more conducive to trellising and for being “spiller” or “filler” plants in containers when compared with older varieties. Some of these new varieties may produce significant flowering during summer through fall, while others seldom flower.
New varieties at the garden centers include Sweet Caroline, Sidekick, Desana, South of the Border, Bright Ideas, Sweet Georgia and Illusion.
Ornamental sweet potatoes in the landscape are easy to plant and care for. They can be planted anytime through midsummer in full to partial sun. Lightly prune the more vigorous growers during the season to manage growth. Ornamental sweet potatoes seldom need irrigation – just during 1-to-2-week dry spells.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture