Potato Vine, botanically known as Solanum jasminoides or Solanum laxum, is a fast growing and easy to care for evergreen vine. If the clusters of white flowers look familiar that’s because this plant is in the Nightshade family alongside potatoes and tomatoes. Here in Santa Barbara it flowers all year long with the heaviest bloom being in the Spring – it gets covered in white. It grows very densely and the new growth tendrils out like the snakes on Medusa’s head – crazy wild!
This is my neighbor’s Potato Vine (which you’ll see in the video below) growing on a 4′ high fence – a pruner’s delight!
I have one of these vines growing on my side fence which I keep pruned to a very small scale. It looks very different than my neighbor’s. In my years as a professional gardener I maintained quite a few of these. Here’s are a few other things you need to know about this plant if you have one or plan to buy one:
*This vine grows to 25′.
* It needs full or part sun.
*Water it regularly when establishing. After that, it’s fairly drought tolerant.
* The best time to give it a major prune is after the major bloom (late Spring). Here it can be nipped all year long because we rarely get a freeze.
*Pay attention to how big it gets & how fast it grows. It is best planted on a tall,long fence or large arbor. My neighbor planted 4 plants on a low, short expanse of fence which is major overkill. I know we all want instant gratification but those 1 gallon plants grow like beanstalks!
* It can take a range of environmental conditions but does need a means of support and needs training.
* It’s not fussy as to fertilizer. Amend with a good organic compost when planting and then apply more once a year. As with most plants, it likes good drainage.
This is a dense growing plant. Some of that new growth grows back on the old growth. That’s why a few prunes a year are recommended to keep it from becoming the man eating vine it wants to be.
The Potato Vine foliage is very fresh in appearance and the plant has an overall lacy feel. So you can see this is not a small scale vine but it is a very popular landscape plant because of its almost non-top profusion of white starry flower clusters and easy care. Relatively easy care that is – all I can say is that if you get this plant, then you’d better like pruning!
Here I am up close & personal with my neighbor’s Potato Vine:
Do you like vines? Here are some links to some other beautiful vine options: