Ipomoea for Autumn

IPO-MainIt’s late in the season but there’s still plenty of time to add color and form to the landscape and containers with ipomoea, or sweet potato vine. This foliage accent is a fast grower and comes in colors that are just right for harvest décor and Halloween themes. It’s often thought of as the go-to background plant among container gardeners and rightly so—as a vigorous climber with heart-shaped or tapered, pointy leaves, it brings another dimension of interest to a design.

Ipomoea is on the short side, ranging in height from around 6 to 10 inches. Plants are full and lush, however, and the mounded foliage can trail out over a container for a distance of up to 5 feet. Set it in full to part sun; sweet potato vine thrives in the heat and humidity and will actually stay a bit more compact in the cooler autumn temperatures. Still, be sure to give it plenty of room to grow—it’s going to spread. Don’t be afraid to trim it back if you feel you need to control the size—you’ll see new growth almost immediately. Other than that these vines are fairly low-maintenance, with average soil and water requirements.

Sweet potato vine is often seen in the landscape cascading over the sides of planters and hanging baskets, naturally. In shades of bright green, rusty red, and nearly black, the foliage offers strategic contrast in combination pots and mixed borders. Ipomoea can climb up a trellis or other support for vertical interest or create a unique groundcover, playing up the bright mums and autumn accent plants in the garden—each one is guaranteed to stand out against it. Go with all one shade or mix varieties—they work well together. We think it looks interesting combined with some bold, psychedelic coleus, creating a little weirdness for Halloween.

The following varieties of ipomoea
are shipping now in the 4.5-inch pot:


‘Marguerite’—Heart-shaped leaves are vibrant chartreuse. The light, bright foliage complements many orange, gold, and red autumn accent plants, deepening the warmth of the harvest-time colors. It’s dramatic when paired with other purple-black sweet potato vines.


‘Sweet Caroline Raven’—Tapered, pointy leaves are deep purple-to-nearly black. Flowering plants of almost any color stand out against the striking dark foliage. It provides contrast when interspersed with other colorful foliage plants.


‘Sweet Caroline Rusty Red’—Tapered, pointy leaves are rusty red and muted chartreuse with red veins. The subtle tones of this variety blend easily into the fall landscape and create a nice backdrop for the bold colors of many other autumn décor elements used along with it.


Blackie’—Leaves are tapered and pointy with a fleur-de-lis shape. They start out green and turn deep purple-to-nearly black as they mature. Add an air of gothic elegance to Halloween-themed décor with this smoky variety spilling out of a fancy, funky old urn.