Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Margarita Sweet Potato Vine

I first noticed this vine as part of a three-plant potted arrangement we had purchased for a gift from Lowe's.
Subsequent visits revealed that the MSPV grew very fast--in fact it's capable of taking over half your porch if it gets enough water and light, even in a smallish pot of soil.
I was impressed and started shopping for my own but had no luck. (They are available now).
So I was back-gifted 2 cuttings from the ends of the original plant's many vines.
Took them home in a water bottle and started watching them.
Mine were about 12 inches long--the one above is a bit shorter.
All you do is strip 3 or four stems from the base of the cutting and keep it in water. I used a pint glass this time because after the roots grow you can damage them trying to remove it from a water bottle.
Oops--I ended up having to cut the bottle apart last time.
Set the cutting in a windowsill. Direct sunlight isn't necessary.

Within 12-24 hours roots will begin to grow from either side of where the leaf/stem was snapped off. You can see pores (for lack of the correct term) from which the roots emanate if you examine the vine of a mature plant.
The little projection in the stem's elbow sometimes grows into a branching vine--no idea what process stimulates this.
The above photo was taken after 5 days or so.
It's best to wait until at least 8-10 days before planting. By then you should see smaller roots branching off the main ones.

I planted mine in a mixture of Miracle Grow Garden Soil™ and local dirt with a moderate clay content that I had to dig up anyway to keep a fence gate swinging freely. Don't know if it helped or hurt--it's hard to tell with something that grows so explosively.
The plant above was just the two cuttings a couple of months ago.

The MSPV has a bright green color that provides a nice contrast to every other plant you might be growing.
Or you can go with the red/purple leafed non-margarita variety.
Can be used as ground cover or as a fence cover if you're willing to spend a lot of money on water, but I prefer to keep it potted and under control for now.
Likes it's soil damp all the time so I water it heavily every other day.
Martha's website says to wait until the surface of the dirt is dry before watering, and that's good advice.
The leaves will let you know, too.
Might be a good candidate for planting where your AC unit's condensation pipe drains.

Bonus: You get a free Central American sweet potato every Autumn, although I doubt I'll harvest mine.
My plan is to take several cuttings for next season's "crop" in a few months and grow them indoors (small pots) until Spring.
I've never played with vines before, so this has been a fun and educational experiment.

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