En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Saturday - June 20, 2009

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of non-native potato tree (Solanum macranthum or Lycianthes rantonnetii)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Phoenix. I bought what was called a potato tree. Purple flowers with blooms quite often. It seemed a little puny and twiggy so I fed it Miracle Grow. It is now gorgeous with lovely leaves and very full--but it seems it will not blossom. Do you know why? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants assumes you mean Solanum macranthum (giant potato tree), a native of Brazil, or Lycianthes rantonnetii [syn. Solanum rantonnetii] (blue potato bush), native to Argentina and Paraguay.  Whichever tree it is, it isn't native to North America.  Our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America so we don't really have experience with or information about plants of South America.  I suggest you contact one of the UBC Botanical Garden Forums or the GardenWeb Forums with your question.  Since it is a popular ornamental plant there are doubtless many people using the forums who have experience with the potato tree.  However, I can tell you that plants that receive fertilizers that are high in nitrogen tend to put all their efforts into leaves rather than flowers.  Miracle Gro All Purpose Plant Food is listed as 24-8-16—that's 24 parts nitrogen, 8 parts phosporus and 16 parts potassium and would be considered a high nitrogen fertilizer, so I suspect your plant has gotten an over-abundance of nitrogen.

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Mowing wildflower concerns from Lockhart TX
March 30, 2012 - I went to the Texas Highway Department (Texas Department of Transportation) web site and sent them a concern or complaint about them or independent contractors shredding the roadsides before the blueb...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lambs ears wilting in heat from Fredericksburg TX
October 19, 2011 - 3 days ago I had professional landscaping done in an area with plants that tolerate heat & sun well. We planted 7 healthy, large lambs ear & mulched. Everything planted is doing well except the lambs ...
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-native Paulonia tomentosa in North Carolina
June 25, 2009 - What could I plant in my Winston-Salem, N.C., yard in place of the paulownia tomentosa which is there now (it was NOT something I put there; I only figured out what it was a couple of years ago -- I g...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native house plant
October 20, 2007 - I have bought a 7 foot bird of paradise indoor plant, and have a decorative pot to place it into. The plant will remain in its plastic pot, will have a liner inside decorative pot, and decorative moss...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native Chinese fringe flower from Austin
June 24, 2013 - When is the best time of year to prune Plum Delight? And how severely can it be cut back?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center