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Solanum jasminoides 'Album' I  Solanum crispum 'Glasnevin'

The Potato Vine. - An evergreen - or semi-evergreen - needs space.

A scrambling evergreen shrub - not quite a climber - that can be trained up a fence, wall, or over a pergola even. Very long flowering period - one flowering away now in December as I write this - and it started flowering in July! The white Solanum S. jasminoides Album flowers for a longer period than the more popular blue version - Solanum crispum Glasnevin. They will both will grow in virtually any soil, and are quite happy in shade - especially if they can clamber up to the sun.

Once the Solanum plant gets established, it will turn into a very vigorous - but showy - evergreen wall or fence shrub. It is not the first choice if you want an evergreen wall shrub near a pathway, for it will regularly send out shoots of well over a meter long throughout the summer. It is far better grow where it has the space to do what it does best, which is as a fast growing climber - 'filling' its allotted space quickly and ornamentally.

Solanum jasminoides Album - The white flowering Potato Vine.Growing Chilean Potato Vines

Climbing Solanums - including the white version in the the image - will grow in more or less any normal garden soil, but prefer a slightly moist soil. However, in a dry soil - which will need to be watered sometimes in the summer - it will be less vigorous.

If grown in a light soil - and especially if grown against the base of a wall - then a good thick mulch each year in the autumn will do much to keep it looking healthy throughout the growing period.

It will rarely if ever, need any supplementary feeding - all needs being provided with the organic mulch. If the Potato vine is not grown in such a situation, and is not mulched, then feeding should be with one of the slow acting fertilisers such as bonemeal - applied  in early spring.  

Planting and General Care including Pruning

Every spring - and I mean EVERY spring, pruning of your Solanum plant should be carried out by pruning back the side growths (those that grew and flowered the last year) to about 6in 150mm from the main stem. At the time of pruning time, you can allow one or two of these growths to remain to train as a new structure/extension to the main framework. If this pruning is not carried out, then you will end up with a rather disorganised tangle of branches which will require drastic action in later summer. Pruning is really essential to keep the climber under control, and build an attractive framework over your trellis or against a wall.

Solanum crispum Glasnevin - blue flowers.Climbing Potato Vines should be planted in a situation where they are not likely to become a nuisance. Choose a place where it can grow well and unhindered, and certainly NOT a low-growing pergola if it is in an area where you like to site with a summer drink.

Solanum plants are liable to suffer from aphids - greenfly in the main - which can be a nuisance if the shrub is grown for overhead cover near a patio area.

The potato vines are often neglected - mainly because thy grow so quickly in the summer, and are then hard to tackle. 

If allowed space, and pruned each spring, then you will have a mass of blooms for much of the summer, and a reasonable cover of evergreen foliage to see you through all but the severest of winters. They are generally hardy in all  but the severest of winters, but can sometimes look messy as some of the foliage dies. Mild winters - without drying winters - normally sees it as an evergreen

Propagation of Potato Vine

You can propagate by taking semi-ripe cuttings from late summer until autumn - with a little bottom heat. Best not to take the cuttings of Solanum in drought conditions. If necessary, water well for a few days beforehand, to allow the climber to take in moisture.

Solanum jasminoides Album - together with other potato vines, can be propagated by rootin from semi-ripe cuttings during midsummer through to autumn.  The cuttings should be no more than six in (150mm) long and inserted to around have its depth. Keep the top covered either by rooting in a pot and sealing with a clear plastic bag, or placing in a large propagator - or coldframe.

They can also be taken from ripe cuttings in mid autumn and left to over-winter in a coldframe. The cuttings should be rooted by early spring.


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