Potato vine flower.
image by SpoonyAU/sxc.hu
Potato vines are not actually potato plants. They are evergreen flowering vines that bloom during the warm months with white flowers and yellow anthers, which some say resemble a potato. Its scientific name is Solanum laxum (previously known as solanum jasminoides). If growing indoors from seeds, start the process a few weeks before the last frost. Plant outdoors or move containers outdoors in the spring in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 10.
Grow from seed. If you're growing a potato vine from seed, use a small tray with all-purpose potting soil and plant the seeds just below the surface. Water and put in a poly bag, which is available at you local nursery. Place the tray in indirect light or under a fluorescent light. After a few weeks, it should be ready to transplant into a larger pot or outside in the ground.
Select a location in full sun. If planting along a solid fence or wall, the south or west side provides the most sunlight. You can also plant along a trellis or railing.
Prepare the soil so that it is well-draining. If your soil is thick and clumpy and holds water, then add a couple inches of organic matter like compost or peat moss. Rake or till the matter several inches deep with the existing soil to create a new, well-draining soil suitable for your potato vine. You also can plant a potato vine in a container with all-purpose potting soil. Be sure the container has holes for drainage. Adding a dish of pebbles underneath will help with drainage.
Place the container in the sunny area you have selected. However, if you're planting the potato vine in the ground, dig a hole that is as deep, but twice the size of the pot the potato vine came in. Take the plant out, dirt and all. It's easiest to do this when the soil is compact and moist. Place the plant in the center of the hole and backfill it with soil. Plant multiple vines about 2 feet apart.
Keep your vine watered and moist throughout the growing season. Fertilize it using an all-purpose fertilizer. Choose a granular slow-releasing fertilizer so you only need to do it once in the spring. Otherwise, you will need to fertilize once every few weeks during the spring and summer months.
Cut back your potato vine in the late winter, just before spring. Cut it close to the ground. A potato vine will grow back fuller with more blooms by pruning it each year.