Friday, September 29, 2006

Tips From The Garden: Propagating Sweet Potato Vine

I love the Sweet Potato Vine. It's the perfect potted plant to offset other jewels in an arrangement for the front step. Or, use it as a vibrant accent plant in the garden. So simple, so unique, so versatile, so beautiful!

This spring, I purchased three different varieties. You can see one cascading over the side of the wagon (a steal for $50 at KMart) here in my yard. The chartreuse variety is called 'Marguerite' and the purple one is 'Blackie'. Later I purchased an Ipomoea 'Sweet Caroline Light Green' that wasn't nearly as prolific. They were in 4" containers for $3.50. At that price, I figured I could do better by trying to propagate them myself and have a whole bunch in the spring. They didn't appear in the shops until rather late here in the growing my own over the winter, I can get them in the ground earlier and have larger plants throughout the summer.

After doing some research on the web, I've combined everything I learned into a few easy steps. This is my first attempt so we'll see if I have any success. Here's what I did:

Step 1

Go shopping. I bought eight miniature 2" terra cotta pots for 25 cents apiece. Next, get some soil-less potting medium. I'm using sphagnum (peat) moss with Miracle Grow but you can get a mixture that contains Perlite and/or Vermiculite, too. Finally, get some root developing growth hormone. I purchased Green Light Rooting Hormone at Lowe's.

Step 2

Fill the pots 3/4 full with the potting medium.

Step 3

Snip a strand of the vine 5" up from the end.

Step 4

Remove most of the leaves on the cutting except the ones on the end. Coat the cut end in the growth hormone and bury the end in the medium. Tamp down the medium to secure the cutting in place.

Step 5

Spray the medium and cutting with water to moisten. You will have to keep these moist until the cutting begins to root. I expect this to be a challenge for me since I'll be doing this indoors and the house is extremely dry from the heater.

Step 6

Transfer to potting soil when healthy roots appear.
That's it. Keep posted to see how they do!

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