Deciding which plant or plants we are going to use when dressing or covering a fence or wall, first a classification is made by climatic zone since it is the factor that affects us the most. Resistance to frost, drought etc. Once that classification is made, we have a whole world of options. Today we bring an ornamental tuber known as Solanum crispum .
A perennial climber with some resistance to cold winters although it prefers more temperate climates.
SOLANUM CRISPUM , THE ORNAMENTAL TUBER
The appearance of this peculiar vine , the fine petals of its flowers, its leaves, can give us the feeling of a delicate plant, not very rustic and without resistance to adverse conditions. It is not one of the strongest climbers out there, although its appearance can be deceiving.
We believe that it is the only known ornamental climbing plant that is related to the potato (genus Solanum ). Maybe it’s because of her resistance to being a nightshade. If there is, in Gardenprue we do not know it, at the moment.
It is not very difficult to establish the resemblance between the potato and this climber. We only have to look at the flowers that will show all their charm in summer. They are practically the same as the potato in configuration and colors.
Taking into account that the potato is a plant of South American origin, obviously the Solanum crispum , sharing a gender, could not come from anywhere else. It is a climber that can appear somewhat ungainly in its forms. The virgin vine or Parthenocissus , of which we spoke recently, has a very organized configuration of leaves. However, the flowering of Solanum crispum will give something to talk about.
SOLANUM CRISPUM CARE GUIDE
CLIMATE AND SOIL
It is a plant that prefers a warm situation, with good light and somewhat sheltered from the elements . Although it will grow well in somewhat more unprotected places, with some shelter we will be growing it in optimal conditions. In winter it can withstand temperatures down to -10 ºC.
In the ground aspect it is something curious. Many of the climbing plants require deep, rich soils to grow optimally. Solanum crispum grows best in alkaline soils, deep pruning. These soils are often associated with poor nutrient content in many cases.
For this reason, it is advisable to cover twice a year (spring and autumn) with leaf mulch or compost .
As we just mentioned, compost and garden mulch are two very good solutions for plant nutrition. If you also want a fast and vigorous development to cover the wall or fence, a normal and balanced liquid fertilizer will give that extra vigor. The application of the fertilizer must be done in spring.
STAKING AND PRUNING OF SOLANUM CRISPUM
The standard growth height of this climber is usually about 2 meters . It is a very worthy height for a fence or wall. Usually no more is needed. Although it can grow without much support, it is recommended to give it a wire support for an even and assured spread.
Pruning is necessary because with them we will outline the contour of the plant. Leaf thinning can be done in spring in those areas where the volume is excessive.
MULTIPLICATION AND VARIETIES
The most common multiplication is the cutting in summer. It is planted in a mixture of earth and sand with some peat or mulch in a warm bed between 22 and 25 ºC until they take root. It has no major complication.
The most commonly used variety with flowers of more bluish tones is the « Glasnevin « variety.
PLAGUES AND DISEASES
Like almost any garden plant, the aphid does not understand genders and can appear year after year. Viral problems may be something to mention although with less profusion. For aphid attacks, take a look at our ecological insecticides entry.