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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - July 14, 2008

From: San Angelo , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Shrubs
Title: Pruning blue potato tree (Lycianthus rantonnei)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I wrote earlier about a blue potato tree(Lycianthus rantonnei) the top appears dead but if you break a branch it is still green, what would happen to it if I cut all the branches forming at the bottom making a bush? I would rather have a tree. Thank you

ANSWER:

Okay, so you have Lycianthes rantonnettii (syn: Solanum rantonnettii) (blue potato bush) rather than Solanum macranthum (syn: Solanum wrightii) (Blue potato tree or Brazilian potato tree). It isn't native to North America either and, thus, is not in our area of expertise. You would be better served by joining a gardening forum such as Garden Web which happens to have a current discussion on the blue potato bush. Many sites (e.g., Gardening in South Africa) advise pruning it so I don't see how removing those lower branches could hurt. However, you might want to wait to be sure the top leafs out again before you take off the lower branches.

 

 

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