Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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.

 

 

More Planting Questions

Transplant shock in tulip tree in Cincinnati
October 02, 2009 - I planted a tulip tree sapling (3 feet tall at the time of planting) in May of this year and it sprouted! Unfortunately, I believe the top portion (nearly 2 feet) did not make it (the sapling only spr...
view the full question and answer

Use of hand-held seed spreader from Robstown TX
March 20, 2014 - I am planting native turf grass and prairie grasses as part of a backyard restoration on my 1.6 acre home site. My problem is good seed dispersal for the chaffey grass seeds. Have you have any luck...
view the full question and answer

When do you put out bluebonnet seeds in Bastrop, TX?
April 17, 2012 - When do you put out bluebonnet seeds?? I hear fall but don't the seeds pop out of dried up plants in early summer?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for an Indiana septic drain field
August 29, 2015 - We just had to have a septic system replaced due to our state highway consuming some of our front yard along with our original septic. Since this has happened, our lateral lines now lie in our back ya...
view the full question and answer

Making a raised garden bed in Texas
October 25, 2015 - I just bought a house in Ft Worth Texas and the soil is undisturbed red clay. I was told I probably would need to build a raised bed to make a 25 ft by 4-6 ft butterfly/humming bird/bee native flower ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.