In gardening forums I often find the question about whether the ornamental varieties of sweet potatoes produce good roots for the kitchen.
Some gardeners wonder if ornamental sweet potatoes are good to eat but how many have considered regular sweet potatoes for ornamental use?
Many years ago, when I first saw ornamental sweet potatoes, I managed to get a cutting and tried growing some with my other sweet potatoes. The harvest was disappointing. There was very little root under the plant and what there was didn’t taste very good. I canned the idea of growing ornamental varieties for food. The fact is…
Ornamental varieties are Not Much Good for food.
Gardening Knowhow: Are Ornamental Sweet Potatoes Edible – Should You Be Eating Ornamental Sweet Potatoes
After my little experiment with the ornamental variety I pretty much dropped that idea. It wasn’t worth it. I did, however, continue thinking about using sweet potatoes for ornamentals. Have you ever considered growing sweet potatoes for ornamentals? I mean,real, good-to-eat varieties? They may not be as flashy as the ornamental varieties, but they’re still attractive and make a good ground cover.
Garden Varieties of Sweet Potatoes Can Be Used for Ornamentals.
One of my responsibilities at work is to maintain some ornamental gardens. Last summer we had a glitch when disease struck a “fountain garden” and most of the plants died. All that was left was a handful of red flowered geraniums. It was the middle of July and bedding plants would be both hard to find and very expensive. I was just wrapping up sales of sweet potato slips, and it occurred that an ivy leafed sweet potato could be used to fill in the space. I planted six slips between the geraniums and the quickly grew to cover the bare earth. They looked great! Only I knew that beautiful planting was of a normal eating type sweet potato.
Since I planted these sweet potatoes for ornamentals I waited until October 27, on a cold rainy day to harvest what roots I might find. A killing frost was imminent. I had no idea what I’d find. After all, I’d planted them as late as I’d ever planted sweet potatoes and, they were in a location with partial shade during a few hours each day. I knew I’d find something, as I could see one decent sized root poking out of the ground.
In the end, I harvested half of a 5 gallon bucket of usable sized roots; pretty good for a “flower garden!”
Related article: Sweet Potatoes as a Leafy Green
Homesteading has a course on Growing Sweet Potatoes