Cal's Plant of the Week
Nicandra physalodes
Shoo-Fly Plant

Solanaceae

Nicandra physalodes

Nicandra physalodes or Shoo-Fly Plant, is a coarse, erect annual that is native to Peru. The large alternate leaves reach up to 1 foot (30 cm) long and somewhat resemble Datura leaves. Plants will reach 3 to 8 feet (1-2.5 m) in height and are about half as wide. They can become very weedy and have become a noxious weed in the tropics. All parts of the plant are poisonous and care should be taken in using in the landscape.

Blooming Time:In mid-spring, the plants are adorned with 1˝ inch (4.5 cm) solitary violet bell-shaped flowers with white centers. After successful pollination, a globose fruit forms inside the persistent calyx, resembling a tomatilla.

Culture: Nicandra physalodes need full sun to partial shade, with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts sand to 1 part loam. Plants are watered in the morning and allowed to dry during the day. Plants that stay too wet seem to not do as well as ones grown a little drier. The plants are fertilized monthly in the greenhouse with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ˝ the strength recommended on the label. When grown outside in zone 7 you should plant them in partial shade. The plants do not tolerate our hot afternoon heat very well and tend to wilt if grown in full sun. In the greenhouse, we let the plants die off after they flower and set seed.

Propagation: Nicandra physalodes are best propagated from seed. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days at 68-70°F (20-21°C).

Nicandra physalodes was featured as Plant of the Week December 5-11, 2003.

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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.