Sweet Potatoes as Ornamentals

sweet potatoes as ornamentals, ornamental garden with regular sweet potatoes

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.

sweet potato flowers
Though small, sweet potato flowers are beautiful, resembling little morning glories.

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. 

Ginseng orange sweet potato root, 1 1/2 lb sweet potato
This was the first root I dug. It was sticking up out of the soil.

In the end, I harvested half of a 5 gallon bucket of usable sized roots; pretty good for a “flower garden!”

food crop from "flower garden"
I’ll certainly use sweet potatoes for ornamentals again! Not only were they beautiful, they produced a crop!

Related article: Sweet Potatoes as a Leafy Green

Homesteading has a course on Growing Sweet Potatoes

Do you enjoy growing another food crop as an ornamental? We’d love to hear about it in the comments area of this blog.


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