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The term Solanum indicates a genus of plants quite numerous, which includes horticultural and ornamental species, some perennials, others cultivated as annuals. Some species are also present in Italian wild flora, but are not grown in gardens. The most widespread species are easy to care for and often tend to develop independently, without the need for special attention. This is the case of Solanum capsicastrum, a small perennial that produces orange-colored roundish berries. The other cultivated species love regular watering, from March-April until September-October. However, the soil must never be soaked in water, so it is advisable to supply irrigations frequently, but with small doses of water. During the winter the species that are cultivated in the garden do not need watering; if, on the other hand, they are brought into the house, for example into a stairwell, then it is advisable to irrigate sporadically.
The species of Solanum that find place in the garden are few, besides Solanum caspicastrum it is easy to find Solanum wendlandii, with purple flowers, and Solanum jasminoides, with white flowers. these are mostly prostrate plants, which can be used as single specimens, leaving them all the space necessary for development; some species and varieties have a broad, semi-climbing, and are also perfect for covering a fence. The flowers bloom in full summer, but only in the specimens grown in full sun, it is therefore advisable to avoid placing the plants in the shade, which would lead to a large production of leaves, but with plants totally free of buds, or almost. The varieties found in the nursery can withstand temperatures close to 0 ° C, but the intense cold can ruin them beyond repair. For this reason it is advisable to grow plants in pots, so that they can be moved around the house during the cold season, or they can be placed near the house, in a sunny position. During colder winters it may be practical to cover the plants with woven fabric, to protect them from frost.
How to fertilize
Solanums are plants that need ever-rich soil. For this purpose, the specimens cultivated in pots should be repotted at least every two years, totally replacing the now exhausted soil, with rich and soft material, quite well drained. The fertilizer must be supplied throughout the warm season, from March to September-October, using complex products, specific for flowering plants. A good fertilizer must contain the classic macro elements, nitrogen phosphorus and potassium, but also of microelements, such as iron, boron and manganese. In the absence of these substances the Solanums tend to decay, or to have a little thick development. The fertilizer must be supplied once a week, using a half-dose compared to that recommended on the product packaging. Alternatively, it is possible to spread a slow release granular fertilizer on the soil around the plant.
Pests and diseases
Ornamental Solanums are plants closely related to tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes. Just like the vegetable species love sunny positions and need at least a few hours of direct sunlight a day; if you want you can also place them in half shade, but only with a very well drained soil, which avoids stagnation. An always very wet soil favors the development of dangerous rots, which can lead to the death of the plant. The lack of light can lead to less vigorous plants, which develop with difficulty. In spring the young shoots can be attacked by aphids, which must be promptly eradicated with appropriate insecticides. Most of the problems related to the development of Solanums are generally due to incorrect cultivation treatments. These plants must be kept in bright places, with good ventilation and regular but not excessive watering. In adverse conditions they lose their leaves, turn yellow or show little growth.