Solanum, Potato vine, a jasmine look-alike

solanum jasminoides - potato vine

Potato vine (Solanum), also called jasmine nightshade for the resemblance they share, is a marvelous climbing vine.

A summary of Potato vine facts

NameSolanum jasminoides
Family – Solanaceae or nightshade
Type – shrub, climbing vine

Height – 16 feet (5 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – well-drained

Foliage – semi-evergreen or evergreen – Flowering – July to November

Caring for it, from planting to pruning, is easy and its blooming is often spectacular.

Planting Potato vine

Potato vine flowers, solanum jasminoidesThe planting of potato vine is ideally performed in spring, but summer is also fine for planting this potato vine provided it is well watered at the beginning.

It is possible to plant this nightshade in fall in mild-wintered areas or areas with a Mediterranean-type climate.

  • Even though it is a climbing vine, potato vine is planted like a shrub.
  • Follow the same planting steps.

Propagating potato vine

If a particular potato vine pleases you so much that you wish to propagate it, simply prepare cuttings or layer it in summer.

Caring for and pruning potato vine

Overall an easy plant to care for, especially when well settled in. Solanum jasminoides is a climbing vine that doesn’t require much care.

Caring for potato vine

Potato vine carePotato vine is an easy plant to care for, and only very little care and maintenance is required of you.

  • Water regularly during the first 2 years after planting.
  • Adding fertilizer in spring and summer will boost and extend the blooming.

Pruning potato vine

Pruning isn’t really needed but you can still balance or reduce branches overall.

Indeed, potato vine can quickly become invasive if it has settled in well, and that’s why pruning it often can help control it.

  • Prune both in in spring and summer if you need to prune several times. If once a year is enough, better in spring, then.
  • Solanum potato vine can take heavy pruning without any issues. Hard pruning will actually lead it to produce more flowers.
  • When pruning, watch for dead wood, broken branches or weak ones and remove them.
  • Never prune in fall because this would weaken your potato vine just before winter.

Potato vine in winter and how to protect it from the cold

Potato vine is vulnerable to freezing. It can resist low temperatures, but below 23°F (-5°C) or or 21°F (-6 °C), you’ll need to winterize it against the cold or it will die.

Upon purchasing your Potato vine, ask the salesperson how hardy that particular variety is. Some Solanum jasminoides varieties can cope with temperatures as low as 10°F (-12°C).

The first years, it is crucial to protect its roots with a thick layer of dried leaves, for example at least 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm).

If the leaves have frozen and died, simply cut everything off in spring and your potato vine should grow anew if the roots were well protected.

Learn more about potato vine

Variegated potato vineThe potato vine, also called nightshade jasmine, is a beautiful shrub native to Brazil. Its flowers do look very similar to those of jasmine, but their scent is clearly different.

It has the advantage of climbing when latticed and it offers very beautiful flowers that smell like jasmine, too.

Easy to care for and to grow, you can set it up at the foot of a wall, fence or even a tree that will serve as a surface for it to climb along.

Sometimes it turns invasive and overruns its allotted spot in the garden; if this is the case, make it a habit to cut it back every year.

Toxicity and allergies related to Potato vine

Solanum jasminoides contains toxic compounds. These are irritating to the touch when handled and are even dangerous to children (and pets like cats and dogs) when ingested. Berries are where compounds are most present.

  • If a child has ingested potato vine berries or leaves, get in touch with a doctor or emergency center immediately.

You can protect yourself by wearing light protection when pruning. Gloves and long-sleeved shirts are perfect.

Luckily, Potato vine pollen and fragrance don’t trigger allergies. You won’t have any asthma attacks purely by breathing in potato vine flowers.

  • For persons subject to allergies, potato vine is a great substitute to jasmine.

Smart tip about potato vine

Plant it near a spot where you like to relax or dine in your garden so that its fragrance can bring you happiness.

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Blooming potato vine by Hans Braxmeier under Pixabay license
Potato vine bouquet by Cornelia Gerhardt under Pixabay license
Variegated potato vine (also on social media) by 阿橋 HQ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Solanum jasminoides blooms (also on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work