A fast-growing shrub with slim arching stems and fragrant blossoms, Paraguay nightshade (also known as blue potato bush) makes a great complement to a mixed border. Count on this easy-to-grow plant to produce brilliant purple flowers with yellow centers from summer well into fall. Deer don’t usually bother it, nor is it plagued by any significant pests or diseases. Even though this plant is closely related to potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes, it’s also related to deadly nightshade. So don’t eat any part of this shrub—it’s poisonous.
Planting Paraguay Nightshade
Plant Paraguay nightshade with other long-blooming plants to create a garden bed that is alive with color for months at a time. Long-blooming plants like this one also tend to be pollinator magnets. The following plants partner well with Paraguay nightshade and roll out a buffet for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds: lantana, hibiscus, perennial salvia, and yellow mandevilla (Pentalinon luteum).
Paraguay Nightshade Care
In warm climates this shrub is grown outdoors where it will bloom all year long. The small blue flowers are followed by scarlet berries. In cooler regions, Paraguay nightshade can be grown outside in a container, then brought inside prior to the first frost. Flowers will appear in summer and fall.
Paraguay nightshade grows best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It does not tolerate drought well, so make sure it gets about one inch of water a week. More water is necessary during extreme heat. Plant this fast-growing shrub in a location where it can spread. Planting Paraguay nightshade near a patio or outdoor gathering area will make the most of the lovely perfume the flowers add to outdoor spaces. Avoid growing this shrub in areas where children hang out, since they may be tempted to eat its poisonous red berries.
Plant in spring and water well after planting. Continue watering regularly and deeply during the first growing season to encourage plants to develop a deep, extensive root system. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant to prevent soil moisture loss. An evergreen plant, Paraguay nightshade provides rich color year-round. Prune it as needed in early fall when flowering slows down, since the flowers grow only on tender young stems. It tolerates shearing well.
Paraguay nightshade can also be planted in a large, deep container. Enjoy its bold purple blooms and delightful fragrance on a sunny patio or deck. Fill the pot with a high-quality potting mix and plan to water daily to ensure its water requirements are met. Mix a slow-release fertilizer into the soil in early spring to supply nutrients through summer.