Potato Vines: And Their Many Secrets

Authored by Kristelle Falk - Greenhouse Sales Manager
Dec 7th, 2020
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When we create our containers at Falk Nurseries we have a general guideline to follow. You need a thriller, a spiller, and a filler. Now I am certain I have discussed this before in a blog so I’ll be brief in the description. You want something tall in the middle, the thriller, you want a nice full mounding plant, the filler, and a trailing vine or flower, the spiller. It’s pretty basic, but it does create beautiful containers. Now, I am not actually here to discuss how we make our containers but rather about our very favourite spiller: Potato Vines.

Now if you have never heard of a potato vine and are slightly confused about why we would use potatoes in our baskets I’ll clear the air a little. These vines aren’t actually potatoes! They are thick and lush vines that grow large spade, three pronged, or heart shaped leaves that vary in colour. You have the options of lime green, black, dark purple, copper, and a few mixes in between. These plants are very hardy to many kinds of treatment and only have a few basic needs: sunlight and regular moisture. Yup that’s basically it! Give them some fertilizer and they’ll be booming! Now you do want to make sure you don’t over water or under water at most plants request, but if you do accidentally do one of those two don’t panic, these vines bounce back easily. They are very aggressive growers! 

Aside from their vibrant colours, unique leaf shapes, and easy care routine what else makes this one of our favourite plants? It’s the blooms! They don’t bloom often and in my experience the purple or black potato vines give the most flowers out of any, but when you are blessed with one of their blooms you will understand our obsession! Delicate and often easy to miss trumpet shaped blooms appear occasionally throughout the vines short and seasonal life. Being at their widest point the size of a quarter they can be easy to miss. They are fragrant and very unique looking. Usually they bloom in the colours of white or pink. The green vines grow the white blooms and the purple and black vine grow the pink, making it easy for the flowers to blend in and be hidden. But in late summer if you peak around in your potato vines you may find just a few. Again in my experience they don’t grow many, just the odd couple, but they are worth finding!

 Now if you are a curious soul like me and are wondering why such a lovely vine would ever be associated with potatoes then hold onto your hat because I’m going to tell you. It’s because they grow potatoes! Wow mind blown, mic drop, no one saw that coming! (I’m sorry I find myself very hilarious, please excuse my sarcasm). But my statement is true, through the year as the vine gets bigger and bigger it is growing small potato like tubers on their roots. Now don’t get too excited about these although some of my research suggests they can be edible I will never recommend you eat them. Believe me, they will NOT go well with your Sunday roast. However, I still find this a unique feature of the vine. Unfortunately my brief research didn’t really tell me anything about why the tubers are grown other than being potentially edible (and again, NOT recommended) and ornamental. I would love to see if you could sprout a potato vine from said tubers. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could. Potato vines are actually related to sweet potatoes themselves. I’m not sure if anyone else did that science experiment in kindergarten where you hang a sweet potato over water and let it sit for some time. If you have then you know that eventually the potato starts to grow sprouts and roots. If you didn’t know, well now you know! I imagine that if the sweet potato can do it, the tuber on the potato vine can do it also. I am sure there are many articles out there about this but I simply didn’t have the time to find a reliable one. Anyway, I hope this has helped you see potato vines in a new light. And now whenever you see one you can feel powerful in knowing all the potato vines well-hidden secrets!

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