Ipomoea platense (was Newbie)

Leo A. Martin leo@possi.org
Tue, 13 Dec 2005 21:08:30 PST
Jim Shields wrote
> does anyone know if these tuberous morning glories bloom
> when grown in gardens north of the deep south? The ornamental
> sweet potatoes are common in gardens here, but I don't recall
> ever seeing one in bloom.
> And if they bloom, are any of them notable for their flowers?

I think sweet potatoes (originally African, I think) need a long season to
bloom. I haven't grown the ornamental ones so I don't know about them

The unusual tuberous ones bloom reliably for my friends in the Henry Shaw
Cactus Society in St Louis, Missouri. There are a lot of African species
like I. holubii and I. bolusii that bloom with the first growth in the
spring. Others need to have a fair amount of top growth before blooming.

They are all known for fairly large flowers, though none are as large as
the annual garden vines. Most are in shades of white through purple.

Also, genus Merremia has many species of tuberous morning glories. M.
aurea is native to the southern Sonoran Desert in Mexico. If you've ever
been in Baja California and seen a vine with bright yellow flowers
covering a shrub or tree, it's this plant. There are other Mexican species
with white flowers and red throats. Rachel at Silverhill sells various
African Merremia species. They are very easy to grow. One Merremia aurea
seedling I grew in a pot only had four small leaves its first year on a
stem no taller than its large chopstick support. In that first year it
developed a tuber larger than a store-bought sweet potato.

At the Desert Botanical Garden here in town M. aurea covers a small fence
near Webster Auditorium. Sweeping up seeds from the patio is a daily
summer job for the staff.


Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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