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Black is the new Green

Black is the new Green

I first discovered Ipomoea whilst on a morning walk.

This particular morning I deviated from my usual route and passed by a garden where it was planted and spilling out onto the council verge. The intense black leaves of this ground cover sweet potato are very intriguing. 

Fast growing, Ipomoea ‘Blackie’ will fill a spot in the garden regardless of whether you give it room. It loves heat and humidity and will sometimes overwhelm the less vigorous plants. Depending upon space you may need to cut it back regularly during Summer. In cooler climates you will find this plant to be less vigorous and herbaceous.

With deeply lobed leaves, ‘Blackie’ contrasts very well with lime green and/or silver foliage plants. Reaching approximately 30cm high, it can be used as a ground cover in the garden or spilling over as a pot specimen. 

Easy to grow, this plant grows best in full to partial sun and with a well-drained soil. 

Originating from South America, this perennial is borne from edible fleshy tuberous roots, however the sweet potato you buy at the supermarket to eat is very different to the ornamental sweet potato. Commercial sweet potatoes have been bred for many years selecting for those with the best sugar to starch content (hence the name SWEET Potato). The ornamental have been bred to produce good leaves and no tubers, though they do form, they are composed of almost pure starch and no sugar; making them a poor choice for eating. So yes you can eat the tubers, but don't expect anyone to come back for seconds! 

We are growing another batch of Ipomoea ‘Blackie’ which will be ready to find a new home this Autumn - watch this space!

Words and images by Jo Leigh

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