So… the above is one of my formerly beautiful sweet potato vines that I lovingly brought inside a few months ago. It was the prettiest of the lot, really, with purple tinges on its dark green leaves. It did really well at first, in a medium-sized green antique pot, with no drainage (!). But then, the leaves started to wilt and yellow and my husband suggested it might be root-bound. It had been really big and healthy, generally-speaking, so it made sense that it needed a bigger home. So I transplanted it into one of my big outdoor planters. A few weeks ago, it looked like this…
You can see in the top picture the vines have sort of spidery-like webs between them, which are crawling with tiny brown bugs. I didn’t notice them at first, but when I really inspected the carnage up-close, I could see them wriggling around. Even worse, I think these audacious insects were trying to spread their webby crap to other, nearby plants. (Eeek! Not my prize succulents!) So this buggy, tragic sweet potato vine was banished to the basement this weekend, lest it infect its neighbors.
I was about to get all clinical on these bugs, search around online, figure out what they area and how to kill them, determine whether this sad vine is salvageable. (And I still might do that, because the information will no doubt be useful. A good exercise.)
But then… a light bulb went on. I think I know why this plant died. And I am 99 percent sure it’s totally my fault.
This planter was previously populated with another bright green “Marguerite” sweet potato vine, a dusty miller and a coleus, none of which were/are doing too well. The sweet potato vine, in particular, looked like something had munched on it, and the tubers I found at the end of the vine had lots of buggy little holes in them. (Unlike those other fine specimens I found last month.) But, like an idiot, I just moved the plants out, repotting the coleus and dusty miller and tossing the icky sweet potato vine. I left the old dirt in the planter… did not clean it out… and then subjected my beautiful, flourishing purple-ish sweet potato vine to that infected soil.
I bet whatever was munching on that old vine was still in the planter and attacked my happy plant, taking it downhill fast.
Such a bummer.
I might still be able to take a cutting or vine from this fellow and save something… or maybe not. Guess I’ll just have to try.
I feel bad though. It was a really pretty plant. DUH!!!
In happier sweet potato news, those giant tubers I found at the end of my other (non-diseased) planter vine are doing pretty well in the jars of water on my kitchen windowsill. One of the original three is doing nothing, but one is going gangbusters (along with a random vine that I stuck in there) and another is sprouting a little leaf, after my husband turned it upside down to get an “eye” into the water. (Uh, oops.)
Notice the coleus and succulent leaves are also growing roots in their glass bottles. (Unlike the ones in my basement lab, but that’s another tale.)
Sigh … grow some, kill some!