Potato vine (Solanum), also called jasmine nightshade for the resemblance they share, is a marvelous climbing vine.
A summary of Potato vine facts
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
The 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
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
- 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
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.
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