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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Climbing potato vine Solanum Crispum Glasnevin, (Chilean Potato tree) ideal for walls trellis and pergolas


The Solanum Crispum Glasnevin climbing vine is a native of South America and part of the nightshade family of species. Interestingly it is closely related to the potato hence it's more commonly known name The Chilean potato vine or tree.
 I am not sure exactly who first introduced the plant to Britain but it was probably William Curtis, a
 well known 18th century English horticulturist who collected plants from all over the world. Certainly it was one of his drawings and sketches he made public in the late 1700's. The plant has been awarded the Royal Horticultural society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
It is a prolific flowerer with soft purple-blue flowers with a tiny yellow centre and a subtle fragrance.  One can expect this glorious display to continue right through the Summer months from June until September when it produces small green-yellow berries which are poisonous to humans. It thrives best in a sunny position in neutral to alkaline soil and is an ideal climber for a wall, trellis or pergola although one should bear in mind it is very vigorous once established and can reach over five metres.
You will need to provide some support for this vine in the form of horizontal wires or trellis if growing up a wall.   In some areas the plant will remain semi evergreen but is more likely to be deciduous. Pruning should be done in the spring as new growth is about to commence.  Take out all dead growth and cut down roughly a third of older stems to ground level and tie in new growth. You will probably need to trim some growth so the vine lies flatter against your support to stop it lopping as it grows out as much as up. One thing I've personally found is that they do not like to be 'hacked back' to hard at one time especially if this takes place in the Autumn or over the Winter.
There are white varieties of this vigorous climber also, most notably Solanum Jasminoides and Solanum Laxum
 Pictures top: The village of Amport in the county of Hampshire England. Middle: Picture contributors Marie-Lan Ngyun, Simon Davis, Hans Bernhard, Roy Focker. Bottom Picture: Village of Vernham Dean,Hampshire UK.
General discussion and your views are welcome please say hello. I regret however because of my busy schedule, I am unable to answer many questions.  Thanks so much for visiting my blog today.

Life between the flowers Garden Choices

30 comments:

the Mrs. said...

Since these are native to South America, how well do they hold up in grey, drizzly climates? What if the area receives heavy snowfall in the winter? Do they have a hardy wooden "stalk" like wisteria or honeysuckle? Or do they stay fleshy? So beautiful, though! Never even heard of this species! Fascinating!

simon tinks davis said...

They do suprisingly well under our grey skies, They usually survive snowfall and frost providing they are in a reasonably sheltered position but do have a little more dead wood to cut away than on milder winters. Yes they have hard woody stems very similar to wisteria. New growth is fleshy until established. Thanks for the questions and I'm glad you found the post interesting. With kind regards, Simon

Edith Hope said...

Dear Simon, The solanum looks absolutely wonderful cascading over the fence, but I have never succeeded in achieving such healthy growth. I should really like to grow the white-flowered variety which I believe exists, but am concerned that this would be even less vigorous.

I garden in London on a free draining soil which is improved with compost each season. Your posting has now inspired me to try again.

simon tinks davis said...

Hi Edith. I'm glad you are inspired to have another go, the rewards are well worth it. With regards to problems in the past it may well be worth checking that your soil is not to acidic (if you can grow heathers and azaleas it probably is) Well drained with compost sounds great. Give your new plant a handful of growmore fertilizer in March and then again in June around the base and fork in lightly. Make sure it is kept well watered through the summer in its first year. Yes there is a white variety solanum crispum 'album'. Most nurseries only stock the blue so you would probably have to get one special order. Thanks for your comment and good luck. Kind regards, Simon.

Venice said...

Hi, I purchased a cutting of this plant in early Maech 2010. I put in a large pot and nothing happen until late July 2010. A new shut appeared. Been trailing ever since, no flowers ore new shuts only the original one. I don't know what to do. I don't want to loose it. I love this plant.

Anonymous said...

I need to move my vine. Can you suggest the right season for me to do this?

simon tinks davis said...

Hi Venice and thanks for your question. I wouldn't give up just yet. Train the original shoot upright using a cane and start to regularly feed it using a liquid fertilizer diluted in water. Then it is just a matter of patience. Once the root structure has had time to establish you should find many more new shoots appearing. Hope this helps, regards, Simon

simon tinks davis said...

Hello. Moving this shrub is best done in Autumn or Spring when there is moisture in the ground but no frost expected. Be warned, they don't really like being moved unless they're young and supple. The larger and older the shrub the less likely it will survive because of the trunk and root structure. Regards, Simon

Jools said...

Hi Simon
I have just planted a Solanum Crispum but something is eating it can you tell me what and how to stop it please

simon tinks davis said...

Hi Jools, Mmm this is interesting because generally there are few pests that have a taste for Solanums. Check underneath the leaves to see if there are any insects like thrips for example, particularly if the eaten leaves are peppered with holes. If found use a garden insecticide and wet all leaves thoroughly. If no insects are present, perhaps we need to think larger. Rabbits or deer could be a possibility depending on where you live. In that case and since the plant is new, you should be able to net it until it becomes much more established. Hope this helps, Simon.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you could help please? I have recently moved house and I have this plant in our new garden - it is deeply wrapped round a terrace arch, which we would like to get rid of.
Any chance we can save the plant (this would mean a great deal of cutting back)?
Thanks so much

simon tinks davis said...

Hello. Yes I think it is possible to save your plant even though you may have to cut it back drastically. If you can cut it back in the very early spring just as it's starting to sprout new shoots. If you cannot wait until spring, prune it back and try to keep as much of the newer growth as you can. There is an increased risk that the plant may not survive but do give it a try. A good feed in spring either way should help it to recover. Good luck, Simon.

Anonymous said...

My neighbour has a climbing Solanum Crispum Glasnevin and some of its stems have forced their way through my fence. My fence recently came down following the strong winds. Is it possible my fence is not robust enough to tolerate this climber? I have had to prune some of it myself as it overhung my fence so much that it caused a few problems.

simon tinks davis said...

Hello. Solanum is a very vigorous climber, which shows no respect for neighbours as you have clearly found out. It may be that it contributed to your fence's demise as well as the wind. I would suggest that your neighbour puts horizontal wires or trellis independent of your fence to help take the strain in future and that any growth that hangs over your side is cut back hard. You don't say what kind of fence it was so I'm assuming it was wood. as a general rule of thumb a larch lap is not strong enough without independent supports. Closed board or ship lap would be providing the posts are concreted in which would be necessary for any type of wood fence anyway. Hope this helps and thanks for dropping me a line. Simon

Tyler said...

Nice page on potato vine, a plant that is very difficult to find information for! I'm starting a small blog dedicated to it in the US, but it certainly appears to be more popular in UK. Know where to readily find seeds? It's more difficult to send cuttings (which most UK gardeners sell) overseas...

J said...

Would it be possible to grow this plant in a large pot?

Mandy said...

I have a fairly young potato tree which has been doing well. Noticed recently that the flower bunches are being eaten and some leaves have small holes. No sign of any bugs. Could this be thrips? What insecticide could I use?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have bought this climber for a semi shaded position to grow up a post rail fence, behind the fence is my neighbours eight foot dense hedge, will the plant grow up into the hedge?thanks, sonia.

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon,
We have one of the Solanum Crispum plants in our garden and it comes back every year with lovely foliage. We have recently been carrying out some work in the garden and may have cut through one of the roots and have noticed since that the leaves are dying off. We have had a 3 to 4 week period with no rain, will the roots grow back or is the tree beyond repair ?

Anonymous said...

I would really like to plant a solanum crispum glasnevin on a north facing wall. It does get the sun at some times during the day. How would it fair. Ann

LyndaB said...

I have a blue Solanum that grew very quickly over the first couple of years and was covered in flowers. Because of its height and density, I had to prune it back to a height of 6ft. Since then it sends up new green shoots / branches from the top, with flowers on the new growth This year it put on 2ft at the top, but nothing at the front/sides below where I pruned.

There are no flowers or new growth below pruned level,it remains bare and brown.

What could be wrong.??

Chris said...

Hi i have a lot of solanum all round my garden they look great. I had one in a pot and it has started to turn yellow, and one of my cuttings which i took last year is in a pot and it to is going yellow please help. I live in spain

Chris

simon tinks davis said...

Hi Chris, Sounds like it could be either inadequate drainage or powdery mildew. If powdery mildew is the case, make sure the plant is getting plenty of air circulation and clean up any fallen leaves and dispose of them. Water only at the base making sure no leaves get wet. Treat the plant with a suitable fungicide. Good luck Simon

simon tinks davis said...

I do apologise to the people who have posted other questions, I'm afraid I get quite busy and do not always have time to answer you personally. Thank you so much for your interest in my blog. Kind Regards Simon

Anonymous said...

I planted two, allegedly evergreen, plants a couple of years ago. One is still about a foot tall. The other has grown and grown. But they have small white flowers. The 'flying' growth (that has not wrapped itself around the fence/trellis) has died off over winter. I guess now is the time to remove this?

simon davis said...

Hello and thank you for leaving a comment. If your flowers are all white, it sounds like you have Solanum Jasminoides Album. It's habit however is by and large the same as Crispum Glasnevin. Yes in answer to your question spring is always the best time to prune either of the solanums. Regards, Simon

Gemma Lavin said...

Hello Simon, can you please help me. I have a beautiful Solanum Jadminoides Album, growing up the front of my house. It's a approx 10 high and was well established and healthy... Yesterday my overzealous parnter, ripped out a major root in an attempt to help me with the weeding. Will it die? Is there anything I can or should do? Kind regards Gemma

Jane said...

Hi Simon, I am so pleased to have found you blog. I had a purple solanum when I lived in England and it grew vigorously and flowered profusely . It was in the ground and growing against a wall. I now live in mid Portugal and want to plant one against the house. It will have full sun and very little frost in winter. Unfortunately it will have to be planted in a container. I was thinking of using an old wine barrel, insulated inside so it doesn't dry out to quickly in summer. Do you think this would work? Also, I did t realise just how many varieties there are and would be very grateful if you would suggest the best for this situation. Thanks for your help, Jane

Matt Cole said...

Hi Simon I wonder if this is too late a comment to get noticed....I have a Glasnevin which has grown vigorously in just a year; it flowered well in May but now seems to be either forming fruit from the old flowers or just new leafy growth. I'd like to keep its bushiness down and maximise its flowers (unsurprisingly!) so I have been trimming the nascent fruit and hoping the new growth will produce some flowers some time soon. It would be disappointing if it stopped flowering after a burst in early June as I was hoping for a nice long flowering season. No joy yet - but is this the right strategy?

simon davis said...

Hi Matt, I happened to notice your comment whilst I was working on the LBTF site. I have never tried your strategy so I'm not sure. Normally I cut down some of the stems that flowered the previous year-and produced fruit-in early Spring. Both to keep the climber manageable and to encourage new flowering growth. This should give you a long flowering period throughout the summer. But flowering length can depend on variable environmental factors. It is possible that the new growth you speak of may flower much later than normal. Good luck in your attempt and thanks for getting in touch. Regards Simon.