Bed of Nails Plant

DSC_8105

It seems like almost everyone I have talked with recently laments, where has the summer gone? As a matter of fact, where did September go? It seems like yesterday that it was Memorial Day and all of the summer residents to Maine were just rolling into town and we were rolling out our summer annuals. When I look back at photographs taken early in the season, it is amazing to see just how small all of these plants were in May. June was cool along the Maine coast but once July came, things warmed up and carried us through September. As the temperatures warmed, our plants grew. Some plants grew more than others and these are the ones we are noting to use again in different ways for next year’s displays.

Solanum-quitoense

This week’s plant was one of the show-stoppers of our summer display. We had an exhibition of Lunaform pots at CMBG all summer long. In our Burpee Kitchen Garden, there were 4 matching pots that our kitchen gardener filled to the rim with plants. The centerpiece of this arrangement was Solanum quitoense or “bed of nails plant.” The common name for this tomato relative comes from the nearly inch long, purple spikes that emanate from the leaves, stems, and main stalk of the plant. Another common name is naranjilla, although this is primarily associated with the non-spiky plant grown more for its fruit, than its leaves. A plant native to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, it can grow up to 8 feet tall in cultivation, although in our short summer of Maine, we will be lucky if ours reaches 3-4 feet in height by the end of the summer. It is an annual so we can propagate ours through cuttings or by saving the seeds from the fleshy, bright orange fruit.

Solanum-with-fruit

An individual leaf on these plants can be over a foot in length and 10″ or more in width. They are fuzzy, light green with a purple tinge, and the afore to mentioned purple spikes. People who have never seen these plants before cannot believe that such a macabre plant really exists. I remember when I saw one for the first time 15 years ago at Swarthmore College. I did a double take and then of course, immediately wanted one.

I would suggest that you grow this annual out of the reach of children. The spikes not only look sharp, they are sharp! Grow these plants in a rich, well-drained soil in part-shade to full-sun. The warmer your climate, the more shade I would give this plant in the middle of the summer.

-Rodney

Images: Carrie Eason, The Garden Diaries , finegardening.com

Share this!Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Email this to someone

3 Responses to Bed of Nails Plant

  1. Thanks for the info! I saw this plant in Swarthmore, PA this summer in Andrew Bunting’s garden and had no idea what it was. I fell in love with it, even after I got stabbed. It’s a killer plant–in all ways.

Leave a reply

Chelsea Flower Show: Views & Trends from Extremely Close to Exceedingly Distant – Part 1

Chelsea Flower Show: Views & Trends from Extremely Close to Exceedingly Distant – Part 1

The Chelsea Flower Show in London represents the pinnacle of garden design and is, without question, an annual opportunity to check in with many of industry’s leaders to see what they are thinking about and how they choose to represent their artistry and influence in the world. My personal experience of Chelsea was life changing…

Dick Bell’s Raleigh Water Garden

Dick Bell’s Raleigh Water Garden

Whenever I am in a new place I try hard to orient myself with the things that give a place some soul.  I am sitting in a mediocre hotel in what appears to be office park in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the ubiquity of a landscape like this makes me desperately search for something more…

Willie Love

Willie Love

I love Willie Nelson — always have, always will….even considered being him for halloween this year, before going in another direction… (foreshadowing next year – perhaps?) Anyway, I recently saw Real Steel (pretty good) and one of the most memorable things from the show was this preview commercial. My top 5 list of things I love about…

Join @PITHANDVIGOR on Instagram