Sweet potatoes have long since ceased to be just crops, they now adorn hanging baskets and balconies. The hanging plant is perfect for partially shaded and shady locations, is considered to be fairly easy to care for and undemanding and, with its country house charm, ensures tension in the flower box. Those who like it elegant and unusual will surely be delighted by an arrangement with sweet potatoes. We explain how you can effectively showcase sweet potatoes in the flower box, what is important when it comes to care and which planting partners are suitable.
Sweet potato in a flower box: The useful plant comes from the tropics
The sweet potatoes, still known under the name Ipomoea batatas, come from Central America. The crop was brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadors in the Middle Ages. Nowadays it is popular for its vitamin-rich and delicious tubers and is still one of the most popular vegetables in parts of South America. In North America, however, it is not only grown as a useful plant in the garden. It is also enjoying increasing popularity as an ornamental plant and looks particularly good in the flower box on the window sill outside or on the balcony. For hobby gardeners with a small balcony garden, the cultivated “Marguerite” variety is particularly suitable. It inspires with its bright green foliage and gives structure to the flower box. Your shoots reach a maximum height of 60 cm. In any case, they do not grow upright, but protrude over the edge of the flower box. Therefore, the Marguerite variety is not only suitable for planting flower boxes, but also hanging baskets. In the flower box she is not a soloist, but rather a team player and can be combined with other ornamental leaves as well as with summer flowers.
The cultivated ornamental foliage plant is annual and not winter hardy. It thrives best in loose, evenly moist, nutrient-rich soil. A shady or partially shaded location offers the best conditions for rapid growth. Wind, rain and frost can damage the sensitive exotic species, so the plant should be protected from it. It therefore thrives best on an east-facing covered balcony. The sweet potatoes cannot tolerate waterlogging, however, and if the flower box is in the shade, there is a risk of rot. A layer of gravel or expanded clay on the bottom of the flower box can prevent rot. Since the sweet potatoes are very sensitive to the cold, you can go out onto the balcony or on the windowsill from the end of May, where they can stay all summer long.
The planting time begins from the beginning of May and ends at the end of May. Then the tubers are placed in the ground. The ornamental foliage plant is planted in a similar way to potatoes. The individual plants are placed in the soil at a distance of at least 20 cm from each other. In an 80 cm long flower box, however, only 2 tubers fit. The sweet potatoes prefer substrate for potatoes, but they also feel good in potting soil.
As for maintenance, the ornamental plant is pretty straightforward. The greatest challenge for the hobby gardener is watering. On the one hand, the soil should never dry out completely in the summer months, on the other hand, waterlogging can damage the hanging plant. Fertilizer is usually only given when planting, in June, July and August the sweet potato can do without fertilizer.
The tubers are harvested at the end of summer. They are edible and are considered a tasty alternative to potatoes, but only if the soil and the plants in the flower box have not been treated with harmful protective agents. It is also important that the sweet potatoes are not combined in a window box with poisonous plants.
Since the plant is annual, it is not overwintered. This should be planned carefully when planting, especially when combined with perennial flowers and ground cover. In this case it is worth planning a greater distance from the other plants so that they do not root with the sweet potatoes. Then, in the fall, harvesting the tubers will prove to be a difficult task.
Sweet potatoes in a flower box: flowers with geraniums
The gardening season really starts at the beginning of May, because from then on the flower boxes can be planted. The window sill and the balcony railing can hardly wait for the beginning of summer. Even if the location is in the shade, a splendor of flowers can move in there. Of course, the sweet potatoes are an effective partner.
- Pink geraniums
- sweet potato
In the first great combination of plants, the pink geraniums clearly play the leading role. The upright flowers are best shown in the center and the hanging plants like sweet potatoes on the edge. The purple flowers of the verbena harmonize with the charming summer composition.
Our tip: A drainage layer made of expanded clay on the bottom of the flower box offers a good drainage option for the excess rainwater, which both sweet potatoes and geraniums do not tolerate well.
Romantic plant partners for shady locations: sweet potatoes and lucky clover
The next flower box inspires with an unusual but very effective arrangement. This is where the sweet potatoes of the “Bright Ideas Lime” variety stand out perfectly with the delicate yellow flowers of the “Zinfandel” variety. The ground cover and the hanging plant form a very natural-looking duo that is extremely easy to care for.
- Sweet potato variety “Bright Ideas Lime”
- Lucky clover variety “Zinfandel”
Summer flowers and decorative leaf plants for the balcony: indoor calla and sweet potato in a flower box
The yellow room calla, like the sweet potato, is native to Central America. The beautiful exotic provides visual stimuli in the flower box. The white hydrangeas give the arrangement a touch of romance. The ensemble feels extremely comfortable in shady and partially shaded locations.
Our tip: For this combination of plants you need a flower box at least 100 cm long. Leave a minimum of 20 cm between the plants.
- Yellow room calla
- sweet potato
Ornamental foliage plants for shady locations: colorwort, begonias and sweet potatoes form a charming ensemble in the flower box
In the next flower box, ornamental leafy perennials such as varices, red sage, sweet potatoes and begonias easily join the violet tree, which spices the tone-on-tone mix with its delicate purple flowers. The lush combination of plants works well on the north-facing windowsill. Because most varieties can get by with little sun in the summer months.
- Colorwort, still known as Kaladie, of the “Red Flash” variety
- sweet potato
- Red sage
- Violet tree
Sweet potatoes in a flower box: a colorful combination for the summer
In this flower box, the begonias in the trend color Corale celebrate their grand entrance. The sweet potatoes, the lemon cypresses and the white petunias fade into the background and leave the stage free for the gorgeous divas.
- Lemon cypress
- sweet potato
- Begonias in Corale color
- White petunias
Sweet potatoes in the balcony box in partial shade
The white petunias and the purple angel face together with the light green leaves of the sweet potatoes bring shine to even shady corners. With their compact growth, the convertible florets fill corners and empty spaces in the flower box and inspire with light yellow flowers from mid-summer.
- White petunias
- Purple angel face
- Purple lobelia
- Light yellow convertible florets
Exotic plants on the balcony and on the windowsill: sweet potato, snowflake and angelonia
What do the snowflake, sweet potato and angelonia have in common? They are all subtropical plants, with the sweet potato and angelonia from Central America and the snowflake from Africa. The exotics feel at home in the local flower box in the summer months. The purple fan flower, which comes from the subtropical regions of the continent of Australia, goes perfectly with this.
- White snowflake flower
- Purple fan flower
- Dark blue angelonias
You can find more ideas for the arrangement with the snowflake flowers here.
Edible crops as an eye-catcher in the flower box
Edible crops create an aha effect in the next flower box. As a colorful contrast to the kale, sweet potato and dwarf pepper, there are purple chrysanthemums and yellow sun hat. The purple plume blooms upwards and gives structure to the flower box edge. It is the perfect ensemble for partially shaded locations.
- sweet potato
- Dwarf pepper
- Sun hat
No way just one vegetable – the sweet potato is now also moving onto the balcony and terrace. The hanging plant is now available in several varieties, the “Marguerite” variety inspires with its bright green leaf color and particularly magnificent growth. The annual hanging plant is planted at the beginning of spring and the tubers are harvested at the end of summer. In any case, an important prerequisite for its rapid growth is the right location – it should be in the shade. The ornamental foliage plant, which comes from Central America, feels at home with other exotic species as well as with native divas.