Nicandra: Shoo-fly, Apple of Peru

Height 90cm (3ft)

Planting distance 30cm (1ft)

Flowers mid summer to early autumn

Deep moist rich soil

Sunny position

Hardy annual

If you’re looking for an unusual plant to fill a gap in a border, Nicandra physalodes is worth considering. It is a vigorous plant, easily grown and robust, its branching growth reaching 90cm (3ft), with lush mid-green toothed leaves, small but pretty lilac-blue bell-shaped flowers and fruits en-closed in attractive green lanternlike calyces. Another benefit is its supposed ability to repel flies, hence one of its common names, shoo-fly.

The flowers appear from early to late summer, though they open only for a few hours at midday. Expect the fruits to form between late summer and mid autumn; dried they are suitable for winter decoration.


Sow the seeds under glass in early spring at a temperature of 15°C (59°F). Prick out the seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Harden off before planting out in late spring, setting the plants 30cm (1ft) apart. Alternatively sow the seeds in the flowering position in mid spring.

Shoo-fly thrives in deep moist and rich soil in a sunny position.

Pests and diseases

Trouble free.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Nicandra: Shoo-fly, Apple of Peru


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