My half hardy perennial can kick your perennials ass. And this spiky creature is a damned fine plant. Large lobed leaves are fiercely armed with bright orange spikes down the midrib. Violent orange spikes also cover every stem and virtually glow when backlit. All summer long this large tender plant (to 3′ x 2′) bears large solanaceous 5 petalled purple flowers with a central orange beak. The overall effect is beyond charming, its a fierce plant with attitude and we adore it. Great in containers but mind that this sucker does have a bite, locate away from traffic. Very fun to grow in the ground as well. Hardy to the low 20’s and sometimes makes it through a mild winter. Orange fruits follow the flowers but are not assured. One of the amazing plants native to Madagascar. Full sun and rich soil with regular water. Basically grow it just like a tomato. Highly deer resistant.
Solanum (laxum) jasminoides
White Potato Vine is an incredibly floriferous plant. Large and profuse clusters of stunning star shaped flowers are clear white and appear continuously from May to frost and if winter fails to materialize even longer. Semi-tender in our climate it requires protection for the base and rich, well drained soil. Vigorous climber to 12′ in single season. If it freezes the ground- this happens below about 20ºF it can break from the base and regrow quickly. In Portland this happens about every 3-4 years. Climbs by modified leaf petiole and requires substantial support. Personally, I think the best way to grow this everblooming vine is in containers, even window boxes where the plant will become a trailing cloud of white stars for months. Blooms on new wood, it may be pruned at anytime. Mulch the base in fall with compost or leaves and place against a warm wall or in-between close shrubs that will bolster further protection. Loved by bees and bumbles. Regular deep summer water produces the best results. Full sun to very light shade. Spectacular performance on the Oregon Coast. Native to Chile/Argentina.
Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’
Purple Chilean Potato Vine is a flowering powerhouse. It may be grown as a free standing shrub but its true habit lends it to the treatment of a vine. Fast growing huge canes soar up and then over all the while branching. At the tips dramatic deep purple/blue clusters of flowers each with a yellow central “Beak”. The effect is reminiscent of a hydrangea in form.- and flowers obscure the foliage for the first two months in bloom. To 12′ tall in short order and then larger. Allowed to scale a sufficient tree it can clamber up to 20′ tall in no time. Blooms April to October. Large flush of flowers in late spring then sporadic clusters to autumn. Semi-evergreen to deciduous. Blooms on wood from the current season prune before or after blooming. Regular summer water extends the bloom time well into autumn. Sometimes forms yellow berries- not particularly showy but not messy. Full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light summer water. Hardy to 5ºF and not below. Long bloom time makes it an excellent pollinator plant. VERY showy in bloom.