Blue potato bush | Lycianthes rantonnetti

This member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) is still known to many gardeners under its previous name Solatium rantonetti. It is native to South America where it grows as a shrub or standard with arching branches. The striking violet-blue flowers with yellow centre are followed in autumn by reddish, poisonous fruits. The potato vine (Solatium jasminoides), a climber, has white to bluish flowers borne in clusters. Both thrive in the sun and S. jasminoides will also do well in partial shade, provided they are also protected from the wind.

The plant needs regular watering and applications of fertilizer, otherwise the leaves turn yellow and drop off. In winter the plant should be moved to a bright, well-ventilated place with a temperature of about 10° C (50° F) or to a dark place with a temperature of 5° C (41 ° F). In this case the plant would lose its leaves. Climbers or larger specimens can be cut back before taking indoors for over-wintering but the best time for pruning is spring. Cuttings can be taken between spring and the beginning of autumn.

19. September 2014 by Dave Pinkney
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