The Q&A Archives: Potato Bush

Question: I have some little trees (8-9ft) which are very full and have purple flowers almost all year long. My friend says they are potato bushes but I need to know their real name, one has a crack in the trunk and isn't as full as the other one and I would like to be able to fix it.

Answer: Solanum Rantonnetii 'Grandiflorum', the Blue Potato Bush, is probably what you're growing. It's sometimes classified as Lycianthes rantonnei, or Paraguay Nightshade. It's generally grown as a shrub but can be staked into a tree form. It's evergreen in mild winters, deciduous in colder areas. The bright green oval leave are about 4" long and the plants is covered with violet blue, yellow-centered, one inch wide flowers throughout the warm months.

A crack in the trunk might be due to physical injury, or to sunscald. If the plant is healthy it will callous over at the injury site. You can prune back the stems and branches on your tree to encourage new flowering wood.

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