The Dark Side of Ipomoea

IPO Ace of Spades

For adding drama to containers and landscape beds we recommend cascading black ipomoea. In shades of deep purple-to-ebony, these fast-growing vines make brighter colors in the garden pop while acting as intriguing specimens themselves. We have several darker ipomoea varieties to choose from—each one lends its own unique thrill to a design: 

‘Ace of Spades’ is suitably named, with spade-shaped leaves so deep, dark purple they remind us of the infamous playing card. When planted in partial shade the color will be even darker. This selection comes in the 8-inch and 4.5-inch pot. 

IPO Blackie

‘Blackie’ is another sweet potato vine with a unique leaf: it’s tapered and lobed. Some compare the shape to a prehistoric bird’s footprint. Dusky purple-black foliage retains its color throughout the season. We have this variety in the 8-inch pot. ‘Bright Ideas Black’ is a compact variety similar in shape and color to ‘Blackie’—it’s available in the 4.5-inch size.

IPO Sweet Caroline

‘Sweet Caroline™ Bewitched’ puts yet another spin on texture and interest with spiny heart-shaped leaves that have tattered edges. Obsidian foliage starts out upright before eventually falling over and trailing. This selection comes in the 6-inch and 8-inch pot sizes.

All of these ipomoea selections prefer full to partial sun—they’re drought-tolerant and love the heat. Keep in mind that they’re vigorous growers and, with the exception of ‘Bright Ideas Black’, need plenty of room so as not to overpower their neighbors. Trimming occasionally will keep them under control.

We like to take advantage of the trailing nature of sweet potato vines, letting them drape ominously and elegantly over the sides of decorative planters, hanging baskets, and window boxes. The various leaf shapes allow us to add sharp, pointy elements or smooth curves to a design while keeping an air of sophistication. Try mixing all the shapes together in an all-black, all-foliage arrangement—stunning.

Though we often pair the dark leaves with colorful flowering plants, we also like to mix them with brighter foliage, including other sweet potato vines. Black leaves look striking interspersed with chartreuse in a landscape bed, for example. Here are some other ipomoea varieties that contrast nicely with black:

  • ‘Bright Ideas Rusty Red’—antique red and subtle chartreuse-veined-in-red with tapered, pointed leaves. Comes in the flat 1801.
  • ‘Sweet Caroline™ Light Green’—shaped like tiny fleurs-de-lis. Available in the 4.5-inch pot.
  • ‘Marguerite’—bright chartreuse heart-shaped leaves. Comes in the 8-inch pot.
  • ‘Emerald Lace’—cut leaf, frilly foliage in vibrant chartreuse. Available in the 4.5-inch pot.

We also have a ‘Marguerite’/‘Ace of Spades’ Mix in the 10-inch hanging basket and the 8-inch pot.