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

Liriope spicata for erosion and dust suppression from Bonifay FL
August 16, 2011 - I want to plant Liriope 'spicata'. I know it can be aggressive and that's what I want. We live on dirt road and need something by road for help in erosion and it's also hard to mow this are...
view the full question and answer

Survival of non-native Cape Plumbago in Delaware
October 18, 2008 - I have a cape plumbago shrub growing in a large pot outdoors - but we are in Delaware - where it won't apparently survive the winter. How can I keep my plumbago safe over the winter?
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive Rapistrum rugosum
April 02, 2008 - What is the name of the alien, spindly, yellow mustard that we see blooming around Austin now ? Is it Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale) ?
view the full question and answer

Japanese lilac trees in Lehi UT
July 31, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, We live in Utah and this past spring planted three Japanese Lilac Trees in the lawn next to the deck hoping they would one day provide some shade. They are planted in full sun ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center