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A refreshing change from common vines, solanum is a shrubby climber with an almost- perpetual flush of petite blossoms. Solanum is grown as an annual in cold regions and hardy in Zones 9 to 11 where it is semi-evergreen. Solanum is also called potato vine (not to be confused with sweet potato vine). Solanum blossoms vary from white to lavender to deep purple. Its small, medium-green foliage makes a good backdrop for its flowers.
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Solanum is a versatile vine. Employ it as a living screen. Plant it at the base of a sturdy trellis and it will quickly scramble toward the sky. Grow solanum on a fence or wall and bring the vertical surface to life with flowers and foliage. Many types of solanum are semi-evergreen and will provide interest nearly year-round. Solanum tolerates partial shade, making it useful in the dappled light of a patio. Tie it to a post of an arbor or pergola to encourage it to climb where it will provide additional shade below the structure.
Grow solanum with other heat-loving vines such as bougainvillea. The bold colors of this duet add a tropical vibe to a yard. Other great non-vine planting companions include hibiscus, salvia, carpet rose, and lantana. Solanum, like hibiscus, salvia, and bougainvillea, is a favorite stopping point for hummingbirds. Be sure to keep an eye out for these winged visitors and limit chemical use in your landscape to protect the pollinators.
Solanum Care Must-Knows
Solanum grows best in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil. It will tolerate brief periods of drought after it is established. Plan to water solanum regularly for good flowering. It is also a reliable container plant for a porch or patio; just be sure there is a climbing structure nearby.
Solanum grows fast. Prepare for it to climb shortly after planting by placing a trellis nearby or siting it where it can scramble up a fence or pergola. Attach sturdy cables to a fence or wall to give solanum something to twine around and climb up. Gently bend the stems around a pergola or arbor post to encourage climbing.
Fertilize solanum twice during the growing season with an all-purpose fertilizer, following label directions. Where solanum is hardy, prune it in the fall to control its size.