Solanaceae, the nightshade, is a family of flowering plants. It includes 102 genera and more than 2500 species. These plants are economically important. Therefore, people cultivate them and need special guidance about their care.
Moreover, it is a vegetable family that includes potatoes, eggplant, tomato, and many other vegetables. These vegetables have international importance, and people cultivate them on farms and homes.
If you have also cultivated any species of Solanaceae, this article will guide you about the care for Solanaceae regardless of the place of cultivation.
What Are Solanaceae?
Solanaceae is a plant family that consists of vegetables. It has many economically important plants, including more than 1700 species of vegetables. However, you can find these plants worldwide, especially in South America, Tropical and temperate latitudes.
Moreover, it consists of many kinds of trees, shrubs, and herbs. Shoots can be inside the earth or outside. You can cultivate a small number of species at home, and for more species, you need a farm for cultivation for economic purposes.
Solanaceae can be classified into the following seven types:
- Jasmine Nightshade (Solanum Jasminoides)
- Giant nightshade (Solanum giganteum)
- Zeafort nightshade (Solanum seaforthianum)
- Wendland nightshade (Solanum wendlandii)
- Curly nightshade (Solanum crispum)
- False Nightshade (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
- Pepper nightshade (Solanum capsicastrum)
This classification is based on the origin of the species, length of the shoots, and plant type.
Appearance and Characteristics
Following are some significant characteristics of the family Solanaceae that also depict its members’ appearance.
Almost all the members of the Solanaceae family are mesophytes. Only some are xerophytes.
Taproot system has been seen in almost every family member.
The stem of the Solanaceae family members is erect and aerial. You will find this herbaceous. Modified branches such as spines or prickles have covered the stem.
In vegetative regions, leaves have alternate or terminal phyllotaxy. Otherwise, the leaves of this family are petiolate and straightforward. You will usually find them entire, lobed, and exstipulate.
Sometimes, flowers of the Solanaceae family are clustered in Withania, and sometimes flowers are solitary and axillary.
Calyx is based on fives sepals that are usually fused. In some plants, such as Solanum, calyx remains consistent, but you will see enlarged calyx in fruits.
The fruit of the Solanaceae family is the berry. You will find this berry covered by an inflated bladder-like calyx, or in some plants, the appearance of the fruit changes to capsule form.
The standard form of pollination in this family is cross-pollination occurs through insects. The flowers of this family are protandrous besides Solanum, whose some plants are protogynous.
Solanaceae family has variable patterns. It consists of shrubs, herbs, and sometimes small trees.
The seed of the Solanaceae family is dicotyledonous, and the embryo is curved or straight. You can see the seeds are compresses, numerous, and discoid.
How to Care For Solanaceae
There are many factors that you should consider while cultivating the plants of the Solanaceae family. They need proper sunlight, water quantity, Temperature, and other factors. Following are some guides to taking care of your Solanaceae plants.
Sunlight is the most critical factor for the growth of any plant as they need it for photosynthesis. Therefore, while cultivating the Solanaceae plants, you should consider the sunlight before any other thing.
Solanaceae plants need sunlight throughout the year. They require bright but diffused light. If you cultivate these plants at home, the eastern window is enough for them.
However, the flower needs more light, and you can place them beside the southern window. You should know that sunlight causes more incredible flower growth and bush development if you have a farm. Healthy flowers are essential for healthy fruits or vegetables.
The growing season of the Solanaceae family is from April to September. During their growing season, they need abundant watering. In autumn and winter, reduce the watering but not let the lump dry.
The Solanaceae family needs humidity throughout the year. Use a sprayer or sprinkler to spray the water on the plant. The ideal temperature for the Solanaceae growth is between 18-26 degrees celsius.
Therefore, if you have planted them in pots, adjust their temperature by changing the location. But on farms, you should use the shades to prevent excess heat or save them from the harshness of winter.
Cleaning of soil and pruning plants is necessary for the ideal growth of the Solanaceae family. Prune them in the spring season and support the stability of newly growing shoots.
You should fertilize the Solanaceae family plants 2-3 times a month. The feeding time usually starts from the last of May until September. You can use any vegetable fertilizers.
Moreover, it is essential to take a nutrition test on the soil for better growth. If it contains enough nutrition for the vegetable and flower plants, you can cultivate the Solanaceae plants.
Repotting of the Solanaceae plants is relatively easy. You should make sure that the soil in the next pot should be leafy and soddy. If you have a ratio of (1:1) for peat and sod soil, it is perfect for growth.
If you are growing the Solanaceae plants in the garden, you should make sure that the sunlights reach the plants properly. The watering and temperature should be according to the farms because the soil in the garden absorbs more water and has more nutrients for plant growth.
How and When to Prune
You should prune the Solanaceae family when the fruits turn yellowish in the spring. These are annual plants, as you can prune them every spring. Moreover, spring is also the ideal season for the transplant.
For pruning, you should cut the dead branches first. The next step is to cut one-third of the older shoots. Don’t prune hard as it can damage the plant or affects its health. Cut a few side shoots and tie the new growths with the support system.
Problems With Solanaceae Plants
Solanaceae family can get infected by bacteria such as Xanthomonas Campestris Pv. Vesicatoria. This bacteria is highly infective to the plants and can limit the growth of the pepper and tomato plants of the Solanaceae family.
Moreover, another bacteria Pseudomonas Syringae Pv. Tomato can make spots and speck on the immature fruits and rotten them.
Besides, Viruses, Insects, and pests can also attack this family and ruin the plants. Insects like Aphids, Thrips, Beetles, Queensland fruit flies, Whitefly, and Mites are deadly to these plants. Therefore, you should use pesticides as recommended by the experts.
How to Propagate Solanaceae Plants
You need to collect mature and ripened seeds from the plants for propagation. You can also prepare roots from the fruits. Place the fruit in the water bowl and gently separate the seeds by mashing the pulp. Now you can sow these seeds.
You should sow these seeds three times as deeper as the diameter of the seed you are planting. Moreover, you don’t need any specific irrigation systems. Only sprinklers are enough for watering.
To sum up, members of the Solanaceae family include small trees, herbs, and shrubs. These plants are economically important, and people cultivate them on farms and in home gardens. These plants need proper sunlight, temperature, and fertilizers for ideal growth.
Moreover, you have to protect them from insects, bacteria, and viruses. And you should prune them annually so that the plants can grow in the ideal condition.