Ornamental sweet potatoes are in the same family as the produced tubers and do grow an edible sweet potato. The tuber tends to taste unpleasant unlike the variety in production. Ornamental sweet potatoes are grown for their foliage and the small endearing flowers they produce. The vine is tropical and typically grown as an annual in the United States. They make appealing additions to hanging baskets or even crawling along the edge of a bed as ground cover.
Blackie is a striking deep purple sweet potato variety. It tends to fade in full sun and achieves best colour in part shade. The leaves are slightly larger than other varieties and have a deep cut on the heart-shaped foliage. It produces hot pink tubers that are also attractive as they push up out of the soil. Blackie provides even more interest with small lavender to purple flowers. Blackie has more pest resistance than the other cultivars.
Ipomoea batatas Marguerite is a vibrant almost neon lime green. Its colour almost attacks the eyes when massed with traditional flower hues. The leaves are either heart-shaped or oval and are 2 to 4 inches long. This variety also produces tubers which can be stored for the winter and started several weeks before the last frost. Marguerite can get 6 to 8 inches high and 24 to 36 inches long. The plant is hardy in USDA hardiness zone 9.
The name of this sweet potato vine says it all. The foliage is in soft shades of pink, green and white. The main colour is green with white variegation and edges tinged pink. This sweet potato variety is a full-sun lover and has a compact trailing habit. The plant can also be restarted from the tubers but is likely to revert to green. Variegated sweet potatoes are not as hardy and easy to grow as other cultivars. Ipomoea batatas Tricolor is a relatively slow-growing perennial vine with small leaves.
Sweet Caroline is a new series of Ipomoea bred for their shallower root system. Some sweet potato vines have been known to crack the containers they are grown in as the root system expands. Sweet Caroline has a greater variety of colours and small pointed leaves. It comes in several shades of green, bronze, purple and red. The plants produce a rangy long vine and many branches. This series does not flower unless the plant is severely stressed.