One of the only non-vining ornamental sweet potatoes on the market is ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched.’ Known for its mounding habit, dark purple-black foliage and characteristic bat wing leaf shape, ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ makes a great container plant without becoming a bully, and it’s also great in the landscape–especially in the sunbelt where old-fashioned types can become a maintenance nightmare by spreading 36 inches a week.
Still, even with this performance, ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ needed improvements, which led to an improved version Proven Winners has released for 2012 spring sales. So what exactly are the improvements?
1. Color. The improved color is almost totally black, improving on the old form that would fade to green a bit on the oldest leaves. New leaves emerge almost black and now stay black through the plant’s life with no reversions, such as the ones common on the older free varieties.
2. Texture. The leaf surface is crinkled. The edges of the leaves are now more heavily spiked with long, rounded lobes, giving the new ‘Bewitched’ a more spooky Halloween feel. It offers the perfect background color from which spring and summer varieties can pop.
For growers, the improved Bewitched is similar to the older form in the sense that it has a reduced vigor compared to older cultivars. Expect the improved version to be about half as vigorous as the traditional one and about one-third as vigorous as the old, rangy free varieties (‘Blackie,’ ‘Purple Spade’ and ‘Margarita’), which means less cutting back required during production.
Plan on ordering Bewitched a little bit later in spring to make use of warmer temperatures, and also make sure to give it good lighting. All other production requirements are the same as the Sweet Caroline series and other ipomoea–just take into account the lowered vigor and plan for slightly longer crop times in larger containers.
Bewitched In Combos
One fun possibility for Bewitched is to combine it with white flowers for an amazing contrast, or with something like ‘Supertunia White Russian’ for a dramatic, up-close mixed container.
Bewitched was already a breakthrough for its mounding habit with improvements to color and texture, giving it a blacker, almost non-reflective impact at retail and in the landscape. Use these advances in breeding to help your other crops stand out and to give your customers ideas on how to present material with a more dramatic impact.