The Q&A Archives: Patio Bouquet- Blue Potato Bush *Solanum rantonnetti

Question: When I received this plant on 5/12/07, it was round, full of green leaves and beautiful purple flowers. I planted it in a slightly larger pot and put it on my patio. It immediately dropped all the flowers, then the leaves. In late September it started to pick up leaves and then it flowered and was full again. I brought it in the house last week as it was getting cold and I am not sure of care. It has dropped its flowers and now the leaves are going again. This has been a hard plant to understand. What is the suggested care? Can I plant it permanently in the ground, it does freeze and get cold in St. Louis, MO where I live. What direction light is best? Is this the sort of plant that does drop leaves and go to bare sticks bi-annually? What can save this Mothers Day gift from my son? Thank you,
Janet Haley

Answer: Your Blue Potato Bush (Paraguay Nightshade) is a tender evergreen perennial in warm parts of the country and an outdoor annual in gardening regions such as yours. You can try to grow it indoors this winter and then set it back outdoors in the spring when the weather warms. It won't survive outdoors during your winters. It loves heat, bright sunshine and is drought tolerant. Yours is showing stress from being moved to places where sunlight, temperatures and humidity are different. As you've discovered, it will recover when given good care. Yours will probably drop all the leaves it developed while outdoors on your patio, but should produce new leaves once it adjusts to being indoors. Provide bright sunshine or set it under fluorescent grow lights, water when the top of the soil dries out and prune it back to encourage healthy new growth.

Best wishes with your blue potato bush!

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