En Español

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
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

Will desert rose (Rosa stellata) survive in south Florida
July 30, 2008 - I have a mature desert rose and I wanted to plant it in the ground. I live in southwest Florida.I want to know will it survive and should I wait to plant it next year?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Tradescantia spathacea in Austin
July 10, 2011 - Can a moses in the cradle (Tradescantia spathacea) plant be planted in a landscape setting with part sun of up to six hours in this texas heat?
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of fronds on Sago Palm
March 27, 2007 - Our Sago Palm now has all yellow fronds from the Winter frosts. Should they be cut off? Will the plant grow new fronds from the bottom to replace the ugly looking ones that are there? And why do I se...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pomegranate failing to fruit from Highland Village TX
October 20, 2012 - Last spring I planted a pomegranate tree (type: Wonderful) which is supposed to produce edible fruit. It had 5 or 6 absolutely beautiful blooms, but each of them dropped off and no sign of fruit. Is...
view the full question and answer

Protecting plants from birds near bird feeder
April 24, 2009 - I am happy to have several cardinal pairs living in my yard, but I need to discourage them from eating & destroying my purple heart planted under the huge cedar that holds my bird feeders. The cardina...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center