For this review, I will be discussing growing a sweet Potatoe vine at home using “How to grow and care for a sweet Potatoe vine” by Kerry Michaels on the thespruce.com. I`ll be documenting the journey, tools and if my experiment was successful as this will show the accuracy and reliability of the article. I have chosen this topic after being inspired by the group project learning how versatile and underappreciated sweet potatoes are, I also wanted to reuse the Potatoe I had worked with in my seminars and give it a new lease on life. This experiment meant a lot to me as it ties into my larger personal project in which I talk about the meaning of plants in my life and the happy memories of my nan that they bring.
Overall, I found the article easy to read, using clear language and a step-by-step format which even the least experienced gardener can use to understand the process. It’s important to note that I have not conducted my experiment based on the article, but instead used it as a tool and guide to further develop my understanding of the plant’s needs. However, this article is very informative discusses a variety of categories:
- Growing from seeds
- Common pests and diseases
- Common issues
The article first discusses plant care, it’s made clear that the vine can be grown both outside or in a pot indoors and that they are vigorous growers making them the ideal plant for vine enthusiasts. Sweet potato vines need sunlight and warmth as they cannot survive the frost, they can impressively tolerate drought and it’s important to not overwater them. The introduction also taught me that sweet potato vines can flower, I did not know this due to the rarity of the event.
I surprisingly found the identification process fascinating, there are more breeds of the vine than I anticipated. I believe my plant is Ipomoea batatas ‘Margarita’ or ‘Marguerite’ due to its green leaves and its ability to climb, I will eventually get some wooden poles to help encourage its natural structure by supporting its weight. Alternatively, I did consider Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline’ as this species can have a variety of colours but it’s more of a ground cover type than a climber.
I also found the segment about pruning especially useful, I usually worry that ill over prune my plants so it may not be the most visible in my experiment, but the article encouraged and educated me in a straightforward way on how I can do it this. Throughout my experiment, I checked over the leaves and removed any stragglers to encourage new leaf growth as the article recommended. The article also stated I should sterilize my shears, especially if I am working between multiple plants, this ensures any bacteria or disease is not spread.
I did not grow my plant from seeds but rather from a potato itself, however, the article offers an in-depth and clear step by step guide on how to do so. Starting with separating the seeds on a tray with a sprinkling of starting mix, then spraying the mix with water and covering with plastic wrap. It then goes on to say that once seedlings can be seen then the tray can be moved to a sunny window and then at 4 inches tall, they can be planted in a large pot with moist well-drained soil. Overwintering also wasn’t applicable to my own experiment but for those growing the plant outdoors, it refers to cutting or digging up the roots to move the plant to a cool dry place over the winter to then be replanted in the spring.
As I previously noted blooming is a rare occurrence, however the article discusses ways to encourage bud growth. This means keeping the plant well-watered (importantly moist not waterlogged) with plenty of sun. The nutritional balance is also key to flowering and low-nitrogen, bloom enhancing fertilizer with a ratio of 7-9-5 is recommended to best support the desired growth.
It’s important for the article to reflect on common pests and diseases as many plant owners often struggle with these issues without having direct knowledge of how to tackle them. The article states that caterpillars and aphids particularly favor the plant, and their presence can lead to a yellowing vine. More relevant to indoor plants as well as outdoor is leaf fungus, this can be identified by the yellowing at the base of the plant which then works its way upwards. The article says this can be avoided by changing the soil/ location of the plant but is more of long-term concern. More common issues include leaves turning yellow or brown, blackened leaves, leaves wilting or curling and holes appearing in the leaves. The majority of these issues are caused by either too much or not enough water and it is recommended to simply remove or prune any infected parts of the plant, if possible, to protect the rest of the host.
In conclusion, “How to grow and care for a sweet Potatoe vine” by Kerry Michaels on the thespruce.com is a comprehensive article that makes an interesting read and well as being a useful tool in my experiment growing my own sweet potato vine. The article not only educates the reader on the basics of plant care but also engages problem-solving skills by giving advice on how to best grow a healthy and flourishing plant. I personally recommend everyone to read this as it’s not a difficult read but especially recommend anyone with a green thumb to give it a go as well.
By Amy Hamlett.
All photos belong to me and are my own.