||The name of this large and variable genus is taken from the Greek word for a type of worm because many of its members are twining climbers; others are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs and small trees. They are widely cultivated in tropical to warm-temperate areas for their showy flowers and vigorous growth. Some, including the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), have tuberous roots that are used as food. Over half of the more than 500 species originate in the Americas. The genus is remarkable for easy culture, quick growth and beautiful flowers in colors ranging from purple through red to blue, white or yellow. Flowers appear, solitary or in clusters, in the leaf axils and range from bell-shaped to tubular. Individual flowers can be short lived but may open in succession in heads or on stalks.
||CULTIVATION: If the climate is right, ipomoeas are among the least exacting of garden plants with regard to soil and site. They prefer full sun and plenty of water in the growing season but will make the best of almost any conditions. The species below may be propagated via softwood or half-hardened cuttings in summer. Others may strike from cuttings only with difficulty. Seeds are better started under glass. Germination may be improved by cutting a notch in the seed or soaking in warm water for a couple of hours. Make sure these plants have plenty of room and cut back after flowering. They may require support.