By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
If you live in a warm climate between USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and 11, sweet potato vine winter care is simple because the plants will be fine in the ground year round. If you live north of zone 9, however, take steps to care for sweet potato vines over winter to prevent them from freezing. Read on to learn how.
If you have space, you can simply bring the plants indoors and grow them as houseplants until spring. Otherwise, there are several easy ways of overwintering a sweet potato vine.
Bulb-like tubers grow just beneath the surface of the soil. To overwinter the tubers, cut the vines to ground level, then dig them up before the first frost in autumn. Dig carefully and be careful not to slice into the tubers.
Brush the soil lightly off the tubers, then store them, not touching, in a cardboard box filled with peat moss, sand or vermiculite. Place the box in a cool, dry location where the tubers won’t freeze.
Watch for the tubers to sprout in spring, then cut each tuber into chunks, each with at least one sprout. The tubers are now ready to plant outdoors, but be sure all danger of frost has passed.
Alternatively, instead of storing the tubers over the winter, pot them up in a container filled with fresh potting soil and bring the container indoors. The tubers will sprout and you’ll have an attractive plant that you can enjoy until it’s time to move it outdoors in spring.
Take several 10- to 12-inch (25.5-30.5 cm.) cuttings from your sweet potato vines before the plant is nipped by frost in autumn. Rinse the cuttings thoroughly under cool running water to wash away any pests, then place them in a glass container or vase filled with clean water.
Any container is suitable, but a clear vase will allow you to see the developing roots. Be sure to remove the lower leaves first because any leaves that touch the water will cause the cuttings to rot.
Place the container in indirect sunlight and watch for roots to develop within a few days. At this point, you can leave the container all winter, or you can pot them up and enjoy them as indoor plants until spring.
If you decide to leave the cuttings in water, change the water if it becomes cloudy or brackish. Keep the water level above the roots.
If you decide to pot the rooted cuttings, place the pot in a sunny spot and water as needed to keep the potting mix lightly moist, but never soggy.
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Read more about Sweet Potatoes
Ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) makes an excellent addition to any garden. They do well in traditional flowerbeds, in landscaping and are wonderful container plants.
They can also be kept as house plants. In this article, we will share some smart tips and information to help you grow these lively, colorful plants successfully in any setting. Read on to learn more.
The planting of potato vine is ideally performed in spring, but summer is also fine for planting this potato vine provided it is well watered at the beginning.
It is possible to plant this nightshade in fall in mild-wintered areas or areas with a Mediterranean-type climate.
If a particular potato vine pleases you so much that you wish to propagate it, simply prepare cuttings or layer it in summer.
I grew some beautiful sun coleus and sweet potato vines this summer. How can I keep them over winter?
Take 3 to 4” cuttings of your coleus in late summer or early fall. Root the cuttings in moist vermiculite or a well-drained potting mix. I find setting the pot in a plastic bag left open increases the humidity to encourage rooting without leading to rot. Once rooted, they can be moved to their permanent container, placed in a sunny location and watered as needed. You can also take cuttings of your sweet potato vine and grow it like a houseplant for winter. Or store the tuberous roots in a cool dark location. Harvest the tuberous roots, remove the dried foliage being careful not to damage the eyes (growing points). Allow to cure overnight and pack in peat moss or vermiculite for winter. Store in a cool dark place to keep the tuberous roots firm and dormant.
I planted sweet potato vines in containers last summer (both the chartreuse and dark purple ones). When I took out the plants for the winter, they had grown banana-sized tubers. Could I have over-wintered these and planted them in the spring? If so, how would I do it.
Believe it or not the sweet potato vine tubers are actually edible. The taste is a cross between a regular potato and sweet potato! This beautiful vine has grown quickly in popularity for its fast growing habit and lush foliage. Yes, you can store the tubers for next spring’s planting. In the fall simply remove all foliage from the tuber, wash off any soil and let the tuber dry thoroughly for about 24 hours. After it dries, store the tuber in dry peat moss and keep in a dark area that maintains a steady temperature between 50 and 60 degrees. Next spring, remove the tuber from the peat and cut it into smaller pieces or plant whole in fresh potting soil and start watering. Place in a sunny area and in no time at all you will have lush green or purple growth!
Remember that keeping a good natural balance in your garden is a great way to deter pests. Be sure to include bird feeders and bird baths to attract avian friends.
It’s also wise to provide a water supply for ground-dwelling critters such as toads and terrapins. Providing habitat for these friendly, beneficial allies in your garden is a great way to minimize pest invasions and enjoy nature.
Beneficial insects and fauna like the predatory praying mantis and green lacewings can help you control your sweet potato whitefly problem (along with a wide variety of other pests).
These, along with aphid-eating lady-bugs, damsel bugs, pirate bugs, and beneficial soldier beetles are often available for purchase from good nurseries and garden centers or online.