Ask Burton: This week, a fun question from a customer cleaning out beds. Q: I planted potato vine in my front flowerbed this summer, and as I’m cleaning it out and prepping the soil for pansies, I am finding I have almost a full wheelbarrow of what look to be perfectly normal sweet potatoes! Are these safe to eat – like buying them at the grocery store?

A: The potato vine we sell as a pretty ornamental for your beds is a true sweet potato! The tubers left by this plant are technically edible, and would be safe… but we wouldn’t eat them. The plants aren’t selected for sugar content or flavor at all – appearance is king, and the taste is definitely not something we’d recommend to you. Toss them – and if you’d like to grow edible sweet potatoes next year that would be genuinely tasty, planting dates for those come around in late April. Plant those in your back yard garden, as they aren’t as beautiful as the ones you used out front this season.

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