Solanum valerianum ‘Navidad, Jalisco’

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I just don’t know what to think about this vine. First of all, let me be clear that I love the opulence of this solanum’s pendulous, grape-cluster-like performance. With its ropy swags of purply bloom, it is truly like living drapery against the east wall of lemon cypresses. But this vine obviously doesn’t subscribe to the maxim “good things in moderation.”

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A 2015 introduction from Annie’s Annuals via Suncrest Nurseries, this vine is something of a mystery. There wasn’t much information available at the time of purchase, which of course only increased its allure. Annie’s is still one of the best nurseries for imparting the feeling that you’re not just buying a plant but embarking on a thrilling expedition in plant exploration.

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I’m guessing the vine was planted between 2-3 years ago and slowly built up size, throwing occasional flower clusters. Then this year, bam. The base of the vine is now deeply shaded by the cypresses, which doesn’t seem to inhibit vigor or flower production at all. I run the drip hose at the base of the cypresses and vine about once a week to keep them from fighting for that resource. The fight for light and air circulation up the length of the cypresses, however, will require ongoing investigation.

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And conventional wisdom has gardens as safe havens of dozy repose! Not at all. They’re incredibly vital and exciting places, full of experimentation, battles for resources, thrilling successes and heartbreaking failures. Just like life outside the garden, as a matter of fact (but much more beautiful).

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The cypresses are the perfect scaffold for this vine which lacks tendrils, but if the vine is allowed to smother the cypresses, it will have lost its scaffold, and we will have lost the vine, the cypresses, and our privacy. So you see the dilemma. The stakes are high. Vigilance is needed. Which is why I always keep pruners out where I can see them.

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If you think you have a spot for some vigorous living drapery, and possess a strong sense of botanical adventure, I noted over the weekend that International Garden Center is carrying a few in gallons, in the last rows way in the back of the nursery. And Annie’s is currently offering this vine in 4-inch pots.

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4 Responses to Solanum valerianum ‘Navidad, Jalisco’

  1. Tim says:

    That really is a gorgeous vine. I get a bit misty when I think about beautiful or supercool plants that became thugs; not invasive, just more trouble than they’re worth or a threat to their neighbors.
    And, really, who ever thought of a garden as a place of repose obviously didn’t *garden*. I can perhaps sit for five minutes (max) before I have to hop up to see something, pull something, stake something or whack something. And I have a small garden.
    That’s part of the fun!

  2. Kris P says:

    I have 2 of these plants, both purchased in 4-inch pots from Annie’s. One has been in the ground about 6 months and the other has been in a large pot for 6 months. Neither one has grown significantly, much less produced an abundance of blooms. I’m hoping that they simply need more time to get going. I’d love to have some of those luscious blooms.

  3. Lorinda says:

    I had a friend ask me how much it cost to keep a pretty garden. I told her that the price was eternal vigilance.

  4. Denise says:

    @Tim, when I’ve lived through the experience of a plant becoming more than I bargained for, I feel nothing but relief once it’s been decided it must go. When I think back on the gigantic proportions the smoke tree ‘Grace’ achieved and the constant cutting back, piles of “smoke” engulfing the garden all summer — omg am I glad its gone. Amazing leaves tho!
    @Kris, I’m sure you’ve got a spot somewhere to its liking. I am shocked at how much shade it takes on its base, so that might be a clue to get it going.
    @Lorinda, so true, but then eternal vigilance is a good quality to cultivate in general 😉

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