Growing Solanum Crispum Chile Potato Tree

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My Solanum Crispum is now about 8 feet high but is covered in purpley-blue blossom most of summer. I prune it to keep it at that height or it would go on to 20+ feet tall.

Plant Characteristics of Solanum Crispum

  • This shrub is related to the nightshade and potato family.
  • It is aka Chilean Potato Tree.
  • The flowers have an attractive yellow centre surrounded by blue flowers similar to potato flowers.
  • The base of the shrub becomes a bit bare after several years.
  • In mild winters, even in Yorkshire, it is evergreen.
  • It has a lax habit and I tie in some branches to a nearby hedge.

Growing Tips

  • I give it no special treatment of any sort, although it’s location is sunny.
  • Theoretically it likes alkaline soil and a high potash feed.
  • Propagate by layering, pegging a lower stem to the ground, or by semi ripe 3″ cuttings taken in late summer.
  • Despite being related to Potato all parts are all poisonous.
  • The variety ‘Glasnevin’ is the one to grow for prolific flowers.

Pruning Solanum

  • Cut away extra long branches at intervals throughout the summer to keep the plant within bounds.
  • Do not cut back into older wood as the vines do not always re-grow from the old stems and may die back.
  • Solanum resent severe pruning so little and often may be best treatment. It may be necessary to cut a stem down to the ground periodically to encourage new growth from the base.
  • As they grow older, the new shoots at the top of the plant tends to make them top heavy. This can break the original support.
  • Ensure the plant has strong support before they become heavy.

Other Solanum Comments

  • Solanum crispum is a vigorous woody climber often thought of as a vine.
  • The branches require tying in as these plants are not self-clinging.
  • Solanum bears masses of  yellow centred blue flowers similar to potato flowers and is also available with a white flower.
  • These plants are a little bit tender when young and require planting in a sunny but sheltered position.
  • Grow late flowering clematis up the lower branches of mature Solanum crispum
  • This fragrant fast growing climber will bloom throughout Summer and Autumn with yellow-white fruits in Autumn
  • Solanum laxum is a white flowered species.

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See Trellis tips


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