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Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie'
(ip-oh-MEE-ah)
Morning Glory (Sweet Potato Vine)
CONVOLVULACEAE

Morning GloryHard to believe that this is a Morning Glory, but it is in that family. One would normally think it is related to the potato family, but it is not.

The variety 'blackie' shown in the picture is a fast grower. The flowers are really inconspicuous and generally this plant is used for its foliage in conjunction with other plants in container arrangements.

This is a tuberous perennial climber with a fleshy stem and it has a leaf that is heart-shaped to ovate.

The season to be enjoyed is a long one from spring 'til frost and in some semi-tropical or tropical zones it grows all year long.

The plant material is used in hanging baskets and window boxes. It is a great plant to use as a ground cover, and in beds, but since it is very thin leaved it will require a fair amount of watering. It likes to be moist. Plant in well drained, moist, humus soil.

This is a trailing stem-rooting vine which means each node on the stem will readily root in soil along the way. It is an easy plant to propagate from vine cuttings or by dividing the tubers at time of planting.

Look for other varieties: 'Chart Wise' and 'Madras' (which has light green and pink leaves).

It will do well in full sun, but will tolerate some light shade.

A very vigorous grower.

Propagation

Morning glories are generally planted in the spring time. They are annuals but are great self seeders form year to year. People often think they are perennials because they come back so readily from year to year, it is just that the seed carries over well.

Wintering Over

The Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie' can be wintered over indoors. Cut back the water to about once a month and it will go dormant for the winter. Just put the hanging pot back outside after the temps get above the mid 40s to 50.


Emily: Is the potato plant poisonous? What gives!

Dear Emily: I recently purchased what I was told was a Potato Vine. Afterwards I read that the wilted leaves of the Potato bush or Vine are "deadly poisonous". Is it poisonous? I have a 2 year old and do not want such a poisonous plant around if it is.

A: Unfortunately, parts of many plants are poisonous. The Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie' or Sweet Potato Vine is sometimes called Morning Glory. All the plants that I have seen called the Morning Glory are in the Ipomoea species.

My favorite poison plant site is http://www.sniksnak.com/plants.html. They have a non-poisonous plant and poisonous plant page (the page is for pets, but poisonous is poisonous). They have the Morning Glory listed as poisonous.

Emily: I am trying to start a sweet potato plant for ivy

which is working by using the toothpicks and putting the base in water. Roots are forming and the beginning of leaves from the top of the potato which is in water in a sunny window. When I plant it in dirt for a hanging plant, how far should I bury the potato? Or is that what I should do?

Can you help me?

A: You are starting the sweet potato perfectly. When transplanting into a good potting soil, plant up to where the roots start to form.