Secrets Of Producing Desana Ipomoeas

Ipomoea 'Desana Lime'

Commonly known as sweet potato vine, ipomoeas have become the most popular trailing accent in mixed containers and baskets. They also fill out beds quickly. Suntory’s Desana line of ipomoeas features a compact habit with short internodes in four dramatic colors – Lime, Maple, Bronze and Compact Red. Desanas make excellent 4-inch and 6-inch finished pots.

Helpful Hints From
T. Jay Higgins

Sun-Fire Nurseries, Sarasota, Florida

Desana ipomoeas are a newer product for me and much different than the tropicals I grow. Unlike other vegetative annuals, USDA’s phytosanitary restrictions require ipomoeas to be propagated in the United States. Unrooted cuttings cannot be imported.

Growers can buy rooted and unrooted cuttings from Sun-Fire Nurseries in Florida. Desana’s best trait is intense foliage color that does not fade, along with a nice variation in leaf shape. Plants are compact and controlled for ipomoea, but not too compact.

Desanas work nicely in combination with other plants or as a hanging basket or in window boxes by themselves.

They also work wonders in combinations by adding color, texture and drama without dominating complementary plantings. Desanas thrive in warm, humid climates. Plants reach a length of up to 7 feet and spread 18 to 42 inches. While ‘Desana Bronze’ was the named the best ipomoea in 2011 at Colorado State University’s trials, ‘Desana Maple’ was named a 2011 Plant of Distinction at the University of Georgia.

General Culture

Rooted cuttings should be potted up as soon as possible in 4- to 6-inch pots, using a well-drained peat/perlite mix with pH of 6.0-6.5.

Temperatures of the crop at this stage should be 72-80˚F during the day and 60-65˚F at night. This will help roots develop. Do not overwater at this stage. Growth will stop at temperatures of 45-48˚F or lower.

Light levels should remain medium to high at 4,000-7,000 footcandles. Internodes are likely to stretch under low-light conditions.

Water plants uniformly using a complete water soluble fertilizer, such as 100-200 ppm nitrogen, 20-10-20 and 15-0-15. A little extra iron is beneficial. Aim for an EC of 1.5 to 2.0. Foliage color may change in response to fertilizer levels. Maintain moderately moist soil.

This crop may require pinching to encourage the right habit and breaks to get a bushy and spreading plant. Generally, a 4-inch pot will finish in four weeks. Pinching encourages branching.

Plant Growth Regulators

Uniconazole (Sumagic) sprays are effective at 10-25 ppm. Florel sprays can be used at 500-1,000 ppm. B9 is effective at 2,500 ppm as needed. Finally, a drench of paclobutrazol (Bonzi) can be used at 8 ppm on plugs prior to transplanting.

Crop Timing

• 4-inch pots – four to five weeks with one liner, no pinches.
• 6-inch pots – six to eight weeks with one liner, no pinches.
• 10-inch pots – 10 to 12 weeks with three liners, two to three pinches

Pests & Diseases

Key insect pests to monitor are thrips, aphids, fungus gnats, shore flies and mites. Diseases to prevent are Phytophthora and Pythium. A broad-spectrum fungicide drench is recommended after planting. Edema is a common disorder in all stages of the crop. Prevention rather than cure is the best option. To prevent edema, always allow the substrate to dry between irrigations and provide good air movement. Edema is the bursting of cells, resulting in corky lesions on the foliage, accentuated by low light or high humidity. Symptoms are usually on the underside of foliage, but in some cases it can be seen on the upper surface.

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