On Gardening: Sweet Caroline Medusa Green taking the garden world by storm


It’s fun to see what all of the horticultural pundits write about after the plant trials run their course across the country. I can tell you that Medusa was, and still is, the talk of the town. I know you are already wondering Medusa who, and does she have snakes coming out of her head? The answer is NO and she is Sweet Caroline Medusa Green ornamental sweet potato.

Obviously The Garden Guy is one of these pundits and the most shocking thing to me is that Proven Winners could come up with a new sweet potato that has us all writing about it. After all they have 17 varieties in every shape of leaf and color. I always will be completely sold on their Illusion group because of their tight structure, but hold your hat, Medusa’s habit is even tighter.

Right now, Medusa is a single color and that is a luscious green with hints of purple. Full sun gives the brightest color but you will love it no matter the tint. As you are probably guessing, there is a reason the Medusa name is most appropriate. Each leaf has 7 long lobes or fingers, if you will, hence the reference to our monster of Greek mythology. But as a I have already told you, this is no monster. It is not the kudzu of ornamental sweet potatoes.

While I have touted Illusion Emerald Lace saying it could probably be in a hanging basket as a Boston fern substitute, the Sweet Carolina Medusa Green really can and it’s even better. In fact, if you look at the photo progressions online from the Raker-Roberta’s Young Plant trials in Michigan, you’ll see how totally wonderful this new variety is. These photos and perfect score will sell you on this plant for sure.

Sweet Caroline Medusa Green is typical in sweet potato height but only spreads to about 30 inches. Just imagine a hanging basket combined with Superbells Blue Moon Punch and Supertunia Royal Velvet petunia. Not only is it a color scheme with wonderful contrasts, but it becomes a textural feast for the eyes as well.

The ornamental sweet potato is the best annual ground cover today and thanks to Sweet Caroline Medusa Green, it is also one of the best component plants for baskets and containers too. If you think about the cost for a 4- or 6-inch container and then consider the growth, spread and longevity, you quickly realize no other plant can give you as much bang for your gardening purchase.

Like all ornamental sweet potatoes, Sweet Caroline Medusa Green likes fertile, well-drained soil, and that’s especially true in the landscape. This usually means incorporating 3 to 4 inches of organic matter into heavier clay soil. A container with potting soil is like a dream come true.

Plant your Sweet Caroline Medusa Green transplants at the same depth they are growing in the container, spacing 12 to 18 inches apart, expecting 10 to 12 inches in height with a spread of 30 to 36 inches. I like to use a little slow-release fertilizer during soil prep and as a side dress in June and August in Georgia.

These really are in the category of easy to grow and tough-as-nails. Even at that plan on giving them water during those hot dry periods. The sweet potato grows back quickly if you need to trim to manage its look in mixed baskets and containers or if it has out grown its allotted space as a ground cover.

It has been about 25 years since ornamental sweet potatoes started showing up at garden centers taking the plant world by storm and now in 2021, we can celebrate the arrival of Sweet Caroline Medusa Green. It is a great time to be a gardener!

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