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Ornamental sweet potato (with edible tubers)

Treasure Island range of Ornamental Sweet Potatoes

The new ornamental sweet potatoes with edible fruits combine all the good properties of the sweet potato (Ipomea batatas): the ornamental leaves from purple to yellow, as are known from pure ornamental Ipomea varieties, and the nutritious, sweet roots or tubers that are extraordinarily healthy thanks to their constituents.

   
 
Ornamental Sweet Potato Treasure Island 'Kaukura'

Ipomea batatas 'Kaukura' - dark, heart-shaped foliage and sweet, deep orange flesh

£5.40 *

Ornamental Sweet Potato Treasure Island 'Makatea'

Ipomea batatas 'Makatea' - a vigorous climbing/hanging variety with yellow/light green...

£5.40 *

Ornamental Sweet Potato Treasure Island 'Manihi'

Ipomea batatas 'Manihi' - attractive, dark foliage and orange flesh

£5.40 *

Ornamental Sweet Potato Treasure Island 'Tahiti'

Ipomea batatas 'Tahiti' - purplish red flesh, green-slitted leaves

£5.40 *

Ornamental Sweet Potato Treasure Island 'Tatakoto'

Ipomea batatas 'Tatakoto' - deep orange, sweet flesh with dark red to purple skin

£5.40 *

   
 

More useful information about Ornamental sweet potato (with edible tubers)

They are both useful and ornamental, so they meet the highest requirements for a crop by being decorative in addition to producing a yield. With their attractive, colourful leaves and climbing tendrils, the new ornamental sweet potatoes adorn pots on balconies and patios as well as window boxes and garden borders. At the same time, the new varieties also form large, tasty tubers for the kitchen and offer a rich harvest. Buying and growing ornamental sweet potatoes is therefore twice as worthwhile!

Buy Ornamental Sweet Potatoes

So far there have been two different types of sweet potato: on the one hand, in our climate for cultivating sweet potato as a vegetable, large-fruited cultivars with a short growing season have been used. Sweet potato cultivation was a rarity just a few years ago; now you can find sweet potato plants in more and more gardens. The climbing ornamental sweet potato with its colourful, decorative foliage has been known for much longer than the yielding varieties, which are used as balcony plants and above all as structure plants in mixed plantings (e.g. in a container or large pot). They are also called morning glory because of their strong and beautiful leaves and flowers.

The new ornamental sweet potatoes of the Treasure Island series now combine all the good properties of these popular ornamental and vegetable plants in one. Although they were developed at Louisiana State University (i.e. in an American southern state with a warm climate), care was taken from the start that they did not need too long a growing season and that they could also be successfully grown in the Central European climate. Another focus of breeding was and still is on varieties that develop yellow or red-purple flesh in order to increase the nutritional and health value of the ornamental sweet potato. The red to purple flesh in the ‘Tahiti’ variety comes from anthocyanins; the yellow to orange flesh in ‘Kaukura’, ‘Tatakoto’ and ‘Manihi’ is due to beta-Carotene. The leaf colours from yellow-green (‘Makatea’) to green (‘Tahiti’) and dark purple at ‘Kaukura’ and ‘Manihi’ are as diverse as the tubers and flesh. The various leaf shapes, which can be heavily slotted like maple leaves or beautifully heart-shaped like the leaves of Cercis, offer another dimension of decorative value.

Ornamental Sweet Potato Varieties: Overview of the Most Important Properties

The table below gives an overview of the new varieties in the Treasure Island® series so that you can see the most important properties at a glance:

Name

Leaf Shape

Leaf Colour

Tuber

Flesh

Manihi

Maple

Dark Purple

Light Orange

Orange

Tahiti

Maple

Dark Green

Violet

Violet

Tatakoto

Maple

Dark Green

Violet

Orange

Makatea

Heart

Light Green

Light Orange

White/Yellow

Kaukura

Heart

Dark Purple

Light Orange

Orange

What Are the Main Advantages of the Ornamental Sweet Potato?

  • First, the tubers, which may be slightly smaller than the actual sweet potato, but they still produce a high and regular yield.
  • Second, the edible leaves: what many do not know, not only the tubers can be eaten, the leaves of all sweet potatoes are also tasty and nutritious. They can be cooked like spinach, but can also be used fresh in salads or smoothies.
  • Thirdly, the ornamental value thanks to the beautiful and colourful leaves: depending on the variety, they are heart-shaped to slotted maple-like and they vary in colour from yellow to purple-red.

Location and Soil

Like all Ipomea batatas, the new varieties of the ornamental sweet potato from the Lubera Treasure Island series need a sunny, warm location. Ultimately, it should be sunny, at most semi-shady. As soon as the temperature drops below 10 degrees C, the plants stop growing. At the first frost, they shrink completely - but then the large tubers weighing up to 1kg are ready to harvest. To grow the new sweet potato varieties, the soil should be humus-rich, nutritious and regularly moist. However, these plants do not tolerate waterlogging, otherwise the tubers will rot. In a container, the new sweet potato varieties prefer potting soil. In somewhat less sunny locations (partial shade), the ornamental sweet potato plants will still form pretty foliage, but the tubers will turn out a little smaller with less sun and warmth.

How Can You Grow the New Ornamental Sweet Potato in a Container?

Like all sweet potatoes, the new ornamental Ipomea varieties in the Treasure Island series thrive in containers and pots in a warm location. Here, the soil can also warm up much faster than in the garden bed, and so pot potatoes planted at the same time usually have a nice advantage regarding development when compared to garden plantings. The ornamental sweet potatoes can be used well on the balcony and on the terrace: as structure plants together with other vegetables or ornamental plants, as climbing plants or also as ornamental hanging plants that form a beautiful, leafy curtain over balcony balustrades and railings.

Grow Ornamental Sweet Potatoes in the Garden

The Treasure Island varieties also find their place almost everywhere in the garden, as ground cover plants in unplanted areas here and there in the garden, e.g. in perennial beds; as a border ground cover plant, or also in a normal vegetable patch in a single-row crop with approx. 30 cm distance between the plants: the leaves will then fill the entire patch without problems and the plant will also help suppress any weeds. If other vegetables are also to be found in the same bed, the ornamental sweet potatoes can also be trained on a trellis or on stakes (dried, old Christmas trees, the branches cut back to stubs).

Ornamental Sweet Potato - Large Young Plants in a 1.3 L Pot From Lubera

Sweet potatoes are always bought as young plants and not as seeds. This is because the cultivation period in our latitudes is too short for them to grow from seeds in one summer and form tubers. The young plants, therefore, offer a time advantage that is greater the larger the young plant on offer. We, therefore, offer the sweet potato in a large 1.3-litre pot for a young plant. This has the advantage that the tuber formation that sometimes begins in the smallest pot (very early with the sweet potato offered in packs of 6) does not reach its limits too quickly and will not lead to stunted growth. The young plants must be carefully removed from the containers so that the roots are not damaged during planting. If the plants are damaged in the first 15 to 30 days of their growth, then the formation of the tubers suffers.

Planting and Care

If there are frosts or even ground frosts after planting in May, the still delicate ornamental sweet potato plants must be protected against the cold with double fleece, as they simply cannot stand at temperatures below 0°C or long periods of less than 4°C. If you are gardening in a colder microclimate or if the planting is at a high altitude, the best and most advantageous way to plant is on a 30 cm high mound, which is layered with a mixture of compost (10-20%) and garden soil. Here the soil warms up much faster and the tubers form earlier. As soon as an ornamental sweet potato plant root is seen on the surface (e.g. after a hard rain, the mound should also be piled up again. As soon as the soil with the leaves and shoots of the sweet potato plants has become overgrown, further piling up is no longer necessary. In terms of watering, it is very important to keep the necessary balance: ornamental sweet potatoes also evaporate a lot of water thanks to their gigantic leaf mass, so they have to be watered daily especially when planted in a pot; on the other hand, like so many plants, they are very reluctant to get their feet wet, as this will cause root rot. Water the plants daily, but ensure good drainage.

When Do I Harvest Ornamental Sweet Potato Plants?

Basically, the tubers should remain in the ground as long as possible so that they grow as large as possible. Since these plants do not tolerate frost, depending on the location and weather, it is important to harvest them sometime in October or in mild areas at the latest in November. In autumn, you have to be careful if voles live in the garden - they also find the sweet tubers very tasty. After harvesting, it is possible to store the tubers of the sweet potato for some time. For this purpose, the most beautiful and best-developed sweet potato tubers are laid out in a place with room temperature just after harvesting, so that they (in so-called curing) form a thicker skin, which can then be used to keep moisture loss to a minimum during storage. Those tubers that suffered slight mechanical injuries during harvesting are not suitable for storage and should be processed as quickly as possible. But you also benefit from a short, warm storage of the tubers right after the harvest, because they can then convert even more starch into sugar.

Potato or Sweet Potato: Which is Healthier?

Both potatoes and sweet potatoes come from South America, and they were both discovered in the 16th century and brought to Europe. Otherwise, they don't have much in common and they're not even botanically related. The traditional potatoes are nightshades. However, the sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family. The sweet potatoes contain quite a bit of fructose, and they are still considered to be particularly healthy. Although the sugar content is often discussed and criticised, the sweet potatoes also have the property that they are much more filling than potatoes. The reason for this effect is this: the fructose of the sweet potato changes slowly in the blood and does not cause the blood sugar level to rise too quickly - which in turn makes the feeling of satiety last longer. Some sweet potato fans even went so far as to create actual sweet potato diets that should lead to safe weight loss despite fructose - precisely because the hunger for sweet potato has long ceased to arise. On the other hand, there are also diets with conventional potatoes, as these are also very filling and contain little calories.

Depending on the variety, the sweet potatoes also contain more vitamins and minerals than normal potatoes. Especially the yellow and orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties like ‘Tatakoto’ and ‘Kaukura’ contain beta-Carotene, which also makes carrots so healthy. Beta-Carotene is converted into vitamin A in the human organism, inhibits oxidation processes and protects the mucous membrane against bacterial attacks. The ‘Tahiti’ variety with its purple flesh also has a high anthocyanin content, which is also said to have an antioxidant effect.

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