Ask Burton: Q: I have planted a large bed of potato vine, and it’s growing crazy fast, but many of my leaves have small holes in them. How do I handle the problem?

A: There are a number of pests that can chew holes in the leaves of the fast-growing potato vine; beetles, looper caterpillars, slugs, snails and grasshoppers can all nibble holes of small to enormous size. Most general-purpose garden insecticides such as Bonide Eight or Hi-Yield 55% Malathion will work to curb a serious outbreak of any of these pests, but it’s not always necessary to do anything! For organic gardens, you can use a Spinosad products such as our Captain Jack’s Deadbug or Sluggo Plus.

Unless your potato vine is just getting mowed by the critters, it’ll usually just outgrow any minor damage the vines may experience. Treat if the damage becomes unsightly or is in a feature area, but you will generally be fine just fertilizing the area and keeping steady moisture to the bed.

 Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.