The genus Solanum (night shade) includes about 1, 700 species of shrub and climbing plant, only two are popular house-plants. Their twiggy branches carry small, dark green leaves and star-shaped flowers which bloom in Summer. The flowers are followed by green shiny non-edible berries. These ripen to a bright orange to orange-red in Winter remaining on the plant for several weeks.
Germination Temperature (°F)
Water 2 or 3 times a week in Spring and Summer, so that plant never dries out. Water once every 14 days in Winter to keep just moist. Never let the pot stands in water.
Apply standard liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks, except during rest period.
Move plant into pot one size larger until 5 inch pot is reached. A young Solanum raised from seed should be moved into bigger pot whenever roots appear on the surface of the compost or through drainage holes.
When seeds are germinated uncover the container and grow seedlings in a bright lit position with at least 2 hours a day of direct sunlight. Water enough to keep compost just moist and begin to feed seedlings when they are 3 inches long. 8 weeks after, transplant the young plants singly into 3 inch pots of potting compost. Place outdoors and keep them there until berries begin to form in Autumn.
Sow seed in early Spring in small pot or shallow pan of moistened seed compost, spacing the seeds half an inch apart just below the surface of the compost. Place container in a propagator or a plastic bag and keep it in bright filtered light until germination occurs. Stem cuttings can be taken in late Winter.
Stand Solanums in direct sunlight indoors throughout the fruiting period beginning in early Autumn and ending in early Spring. To enable the Solanum to produce berries in successive years, it must be placed outside in the Summer, where the flowers can be pollinated by insects. Keep it sheltered from the mid-day sun. Once the berries appear it can be brought indoors.
As the berries begin to shrivel, cut back the stems by half and use the tips as cuttings.
A monthly watering of 1 teaspoon Epsom Salts dissolved in 1 pint water will prevent the leaves turning yellow.
When the plant is in flower, spray mist daily to ensure good fruiting. If the plant is to be retained for a second season, give it a short rest period for 4 or 5 weeks just before putting it outdoors. For bushy growth, pinch out the growing tips of new growth in Spring. The fruits of both Solanums should be regarded as poisonous and kept away from pets and young children.
Spray mist once a day in Summer with soft water in early morning. Stand pot in saucer of pebbles almost covered with water but do not allow pot base to touch water.
Less than 2 percent of the insects in the world are harmful. Most are beneficial.