Blue potato bush
Solanum rantonnetii ‘Variegata’
The genus Solanum is large and extremely varied; it includes S. tuberosum, the common potato, and S. melongena, the aubergine. A native of Paraguay and Argentina, SOLANUM rantonnetii (blue potato bush) has been grown around the world as a successful garden shrub for many years. Solanum rantonnetii ‘Variegata’, an attractive variegated-foliage form, has recently been introduced onto the local market, and it is proving to be an extremely worthwhile addition. Somehow the charming little blue flowers with yellow centres contrast more strikingly against the pale cream and green leaves than they do against the greygreen foliage of the original. S. rantonnetii ‘Variegata’ is a woody, evergreen shrub that grows to approximately a metre tall with a lax, sprawling or cascading habit. The spindly branches are densely clothed in the cream and grey-green leaves. During spring, summer and autumn the shrubs produce an abundance of round, slightly tubular flowers, 1,5 to 2,5 centimetres in diameter. They are mid-blue, with a conspicuous darker star formation in the centre of each flower and prominent yellow stamens. Plant variegated potato bushes in sun or light shade, in rich, well-drained soil. They respond magnificently to regular applications of a high-potassium fertiliser, producing an abundance of attractive flowers over an extended period. Woody or scraggly plants must be pruned back hard in early spring. New growth that emerges is best pinched off on an on going basis to keep plants compact and neat. Too much water or high rainfall can cause the plants to stop flowering.
Use these attractive variegated plants for pots and containers, as filler plants in shrub borders or en masse in larger landscapes. They also make somewhat unusual options for large hanging baskets in sunny positions. All the different forms of SOLANUM rantonnetii, including the variegated form, are excellent subjects for training into topiary standards. (The variegated foliage just means that they grow a lot slower.)
This rewarding, easy to grow ornamental shrub is sure to grace our gardens for generations to come. Use them in your garden with confidence; they’re certain to please!
Solanum rantonnetii ‘Variegata’ at a glance
• A free flowering, low growing, evergreen shrub.
• Attractive variegated leaves and pretty blue flowers.
• Grows best in sun or light shade.