While the older cultivars like 'Marguerite,' 'Ace of Spades' and 'Blackie' are solid choices, their extremely vigorous growth habit deterred some gardeners. There are tales of vining sweet potato taking over perennial shrubs and needing weekly "haircuts" during the summer. Newer cultivars give gardeners choices, not only in plant size, but also leaf texture and color.
Texture is a major design factor in today's landscape decorating culture. When we decorate inside our homes we carefully choose fabrics that have the texture for the look and feel we desire. Fine, smooth luxurious silk to coarser, open-weave linen, knitted jersey to denim and burlap - they all provide us with a broad range of textural choices. So it is with today's flowers and foliage. Ornamental sweet potatoes are a great example of the textural choices we now have in our gardens. From the large, bold foliage of 'Marguerite' and 'Blackie' to the fine, frilly-lace, deeply-lobed foliage of the 'Illusion' series there is a texture for every design motif. We even have the spikey-leaved 'Bewitched' for a spookier halloween feel.
Below is a slideshow featuring some of the varieties we have trialed at K-State. Leaf shapes range from heart-shaped to deeply lobed, and colors vary from bright green, to red, to dark purple and more. (Note: If you're viewing this on a different site and having trouble with the slideshow, you may have to view it from our blog page.)