This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol2", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
Of the many species known, S. capsicastrum, from Brazil, is the market grower's plant par excellence. Before and after Christmas it figures conspicuously on the grower's stands, the brilliant scarlet berries as large as cherries being particularly attractive amongst the deep-green leaves. There are numerous seedling variations. Growers, as a rule, prefer to raise their plants from cuttings obtained from old cut-down plants that have been started into growth. Several cuttings are inserted in gritty soil in spring and plunged in bottom heat. They soon root, and are then potted up singly in small pots. When well established the tips of the shoots are pinched cut to induce a bushy habit. They are next moved into 5-in. or 6-in. pots, being potted firmly in a mixture of good loam with a little sand and leaf mould. During the summer months they are grown in frames or airy houses. This causes the pollen to float about and come in contact with the stigmas, thus ensuring a good crop of berries. The plants are syringed daily until the flowers appear, and this keeps the foliage clean and encourages growth, and also keeps Red Spider in check. About September the marble-like berries are green and conspicuous, and from this onwards a little weak liquid manure is often given to keep the foliage deep green in colour, and to increase the size and colour of the fruits. If Greenfly should appear, the houses or pits must be fumigated or vaporized. Good bushy plants, well berried, will realize from 9s. to 12s. per dozen in 5-in. pots.
Other Solan urns grown or met with frequently are S. Melongena, the "Egg Plant", an annual grown for greenhouse decoration in Britain and for its edible fruits on the Continent. The ordinary variety has white egg-like fruits, but there are others having long violet or purple fruits, S. jasminoides is a beautiful climbing plant, hardy in the mildest parts of the kingdom, and remarkable for its drooping clusters of pure-white flowers during the summer months. It is raised from cuttings of the half-ripened shoots under glass.
S. Wendlandi, from Costa Rica, is a lovely climbing plant, easily grown in a cool or slightly warm greenhouse. One or two nurserymen, however, of late years have succeeded in producing splendid bushy plants in 5-in. pots, smothered in lilac-purple flowers each about 1½ in. across. The plants are easily raised from cuttings, and may be had in flower during the winter or late autumn months. It is worth the attention of market growers (fig. 300).
Several other kinds of Solanum remarkable for their ornamental foliage are now largely used for bedding out during the summer months for sub-tropical effect. Amongst the best for this purpose are S. guineense, marginatum, quercifolium, quitoense, robustum, War-scewiczi - all of which are easily raised from seeds sown in heat in spring. What is known as the "Wonderberry" in America is identical with our native weed, .8. nigrum, the black berries of which are poisonous in Britain, while they are said to be edible and nutritious in America.
Fig. 300. - Solanum Wendlandii.