Posts Tagged ‘ipomoea’

Colourful sweet potatoes

January 11th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Ipomoea 'Sweet Caroline Purple' and 'Sweet Caroline Green'

There are two kinds of Ipomoea. There’s the familiar ‘Heavenly Blue’, one of the loveliest of all climbers – of all flowering plants, in fact – but there’s also another type: the sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes have always been on the margins here in Britain, they need hotter summers than we’ve had here until recently but we can now grow them and they can crop well. But we can also grow ornamental sweet potatoes, varieties with a dramatically coloured foliage. Two of these are available this year.

These are not vigorous climbers, these are bushy semi-trailing or ground cover varieties that are superb in large hanging baskets, in large tubs or tumbling over the edges of raised beds. And it’s not for their flowers that we grow them but for their coloured foliage.

There are two varieties: ‘Sweet Caroline Purple’ and ‘Sweet Caroline Green’. The foliage of ‘Sweet Caroline Purple’ is, indeed, rich bronze-purple and it looks good in a large basket with red ivy-leaved geraniums or petunias. The leaves of ‘Sweet Caroline Green’ are more of a lime or chartreuse shade than simply green and are superb with petunias in fierier shades. Both also look good planted together or with coleus.

Both make dense growth, very effective ground cover in sunny sites – and they do like sun, whether grown in beds or containers. They like regular watering too and, when happy, ‘Sweet Caroline Purple’ may well produce a few pink-eyed white flowers though they’re usually hidden by the leaves.

Whether sweet potatoes as summer foliage plants is a new idea to you or not – they’re well worth a try.

My Morning Glory Story

September 14th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Ipomoea (Morning Glory) 'Party Dress'

My ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glories have been a disaster this year. Not a single flower on any of my plants around the garden. It’s my own fault, I was give a packet of seed from, well, another seed company…. How could I have been so foolish?!

I sowed the seed, I nurtured the plants, I love them so much that I planted them in four different places, I soaked them in the ferocity of the heat – and they’ve grown like mad. But not a single flower. Not one.

Of course, when I visited the Mr F trial ground recently my foolishness was revealed – ‘Heavenly Blue’ was doing great. That’ll teach me. I know whose seed to use next year.

But I also noticed another morning glory, a new one, that Mr F are introducing for next season. It’s called ‘Party Dress’, and you can see what a lovely colour it is. I especially like those electric flashes through the trumpets.

This variety is also a little more tolerant of chilly spring weather than ‘Heavenly Blue’, which is always useful, but it really does grow. I have just the place for it: under a big new elder I’m trialling with huge bold chocolate-coloured leaves. It should make a great support and set off the colour of the morning glory perfectly. And I bet you a million pounds it flowers.