Grafting Eggplant onto Devil Plant

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The “Devil Plant” – Solanum capsicoides

About the Devil Plant

The Devil Plant (Solanum capsicoides), also known as a cockroach berry or soda apple, is a native of South America and grows as a perennial bush or small tree up to 3m high. It’s a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants, which also includes tomato, potato, eggplant, chilli peppers, capsicum, tobacco, petunias and many others.

It’s called a Devil Plant because it really is a “devil of a plant” to work with if you’re not careful! The stems, branches and the main veins on the underside of the leaves have stout, broad based, hooked spines (see pictures below)

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Spines on stem

 

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Spines on branches

 

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Spines on leaves too – that’s why it’s a “Devil plant”!

 

The Devil Plant flowers and produces its own fruit, which look like tiny tomatoes, and these turns red when ripe, but these are not edible to humans, but are eaten by numerous birds and animals.

Our interest in the Devil plant (Solanum capsicoides) however, is to use it as a rootstock to graft eggplants (Solanum melongena) on to. This is a popular practice with Europeans, including the ones living in Australia. Grafting creates an “eggplant tree” which can literally produce from dozens to hundreds of eggplants according to many accounts I have heard. The only necessity is to cover the grafted tree in winter so the eggplant grafts don’t die off. The process is relatively simple, you just use basic cleft “V” grafts, and the bits you cut off the Devil plant can be used for striking cuttings to grow new Devil plant, and you can either root the cuttings in water, or in potting mix.

In the southern states of Australia, where the climate is classed as “Cold”, the biggest problem with growing eggplants from seedlings is that the growing season is not long enough. They take most of Summer to produce their first crop, then it gets too cold, and no successive crops are produced. By grafting to create an “eggplant tree”, you can produce eggplants for about eight months of the year for two or three years.

Now that we’re familiar with the plant, lets get grafting!
 

Grafting Basics

Before I go into describing the process of grafting eggplant onto the Devil plant, it’s probably a good idea to quickly cover some basic horticultural concepts.
 
 

What is Grafting?

Grafting is the practice of joining the living tissue from one plant to that of another plant that is either the same species or closely related, so that they will fuse together to form a single plant.

There are many grafting techniques, and here we will learn how to perform a Wedge or Cleft graft, sometimes referred to as a “V” graft. It’s one of the simplest grafts, it has a very high success rate and can be done with very basic tools.
 
 

Wedge or Cleft Graft

In grafting, the plant that you are grafting onto that has roots is called the rootstock.

The cutting or branch that is grafted onto the rootstock is called the scion (pronounced sahy-uhn)

Wedge Graft

The basic procedure is as follows:

  1. The scion is prepared by making two sloping cuts at its base to form a wedge 2.5 to 3 cm long (depending on how thick it is).
  2. The rootstock is pruned at the desired height (if grafting to top) or its branch is pruned part way (if grafting to branch) and a clean edged cut is made down the centre of the stem for about 3 cm.
  3. The scion wedge is inserted into the rootstock, with one or both edges lining up perfectly to match the cambium layers* (If the scion wedge has a thicker side, match the edge on this side).
  4. The union is tied firmly with grafting tape to seal the union, and to prevent moisture loss, and to stop scion movement.

 
* The cambium is the thin green layer of tissue located just beneath the bark, between the bark and the wood, and is a layer of actively growing cells which produce the wood, bark and vascular tissue of the plant. In making a graft the object is to place the cambium of the scion in close and firm contact with the cambium of the rootstock by accurately lining up the outer surface, then binding it carefully so it doesn’t move. The cuts to scion and rootstock must be made with a very sharp, clean blade to obtain a flat, clean surface and minimise damage to the tissues.

 

How To Graft the Devil Plant

Step 1. Gather Required Materials

Now, you won’t need all these things to perform a graft, as some are optional, but you will need most of them.

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On the left hand side, from the top down:

  • Grafting Tool or Small Craft Knife or Grafting Knife (use any one of these)
  • Secateurs

On the right hand side, from the top down:

  • Plastic bag and wire tie
  • Clothes Peg
  • Strip cut from thick plastic bag, about 50cm long and 1.5cm wide, or grafting tape (use any one of these)
  • Piece of shade cloth

 

Step 2. Prepare the Scion

Select your eggplant for grafting, and using secateurs cut a tip or branch about 5-10cm long to use as a scion.

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Here is a pruned tip of an eggplant ready to prepared as a scion

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Cut away all the large leaves from the scion, leaving only small leaves and buds.

This prevents moisture loss and increases the chances of the graft surviving.

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Now you’ll need the grafting tools for cutting the wedge shaped end of the scion.

Pictured below is a grafting knife and an automatic grafting tool.

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Any sharp, clean knife will do the job, and a small cheap craft knife (the “Stanley knife” style with snap off blades) shown on the right works very well.

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The scion is prepared by making two sloping cuts at its base towards the end to form a wedge 2.5 to 3 cm long.

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Completed scion with “V” or wedge shaped end.

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In case you’re wondering why use a dedicated grafting tool, well, I’ll tell you. It makes precise, exact matched cuts that fit together perfectly, that’s why!

And furthermore, if the grafting tool has a “keyhole” or “omega” blade, then the scion and rootstock can be cut to “key” together like a jigsaw puzzle piece, as shown on the scion below.

This luxury will set you back close to the hundred dollar mark though, and it is a luxury, not a necessity…

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Step 3. Preparing the Rootstock

Using secateurs, cut the branch you wish to graft to at the desired length, remove the spines where you intend to graft (to prevent injury to your fingers!) if you like, and remove any leaves from the branch.

Using a grafting knife, make a split or “cleft” through the center of the stock and down 2.5 to 3 cm to match the wedge on the scion.

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Step 4. Insert the Scion

Insert the scion into the split or cleft in the end of the rootstock branch. The cambium of the scion should contact the cambium of the rootstock. If the rootstock is thicker than the scion, then just line up one side.

If you find that the rootstock is too hard or woody to open up, you can cut a very thin wedge out of the end of the rootstock that is smaller than the wedge on the scion, then use the knife to pry it open while you push the scion into it.

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Step 5. Bind the Graft

Secure the graft tightly with grafting tape to prevent moisture loss and to stop the graft from drying out.

Make sure that the grafting tape is wrapped tightly around the graft join, and extends over part of the rootstock and scion to make an airtight seal.

If you don’t have grafting tape, you can cut strips from a sturdy plastic bag, which is what I have used here. I get the same success rathe as I do with proper grafting tape. The strips need to be about 50 cm long, and I cut them about 1.5 cm wide. Remember that a bag is doubled, so when you cut across a 25 wide bag, you get a “loop” which is 50cm long when you make a cut in it.

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The success rate of grafting will be greatly enhanced if the newly completed graft is covered with a small plastic bag and tied on the bottom with a wire tie to allow both a build up of heat and humidity.

I add a few drops of water in the bottom to increase humidity, and get a bit of air inside the bag before tying it off, so the bag isn’t hanging off the scion. I’ve also found that tying one corner of the bag to a higher branch lifts it up so it is not draped over the graft.

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If the plant is in a shaded greenhouse, then it will be fine, but if it is exposed to the sun, then the graft will need some shading otherwise the scion will get steamed and cooked in the plastic bag.

Some prefer to place a small brown paper bag over the plastic bag to prevent excessive heat build up, but my preference is to use a small piece of shadecloth to let some light in.

Just simply fold a piece of shadecloth around the bag, and fasten it with a clothes peg. If you have multiple grafts, you can place one larger piece of shadecloth over all of them at once.

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Step 6. Removal of Bags and Grafting Tape

With a eggplant graft to a Devil plant, I have found that I can remove the plastic bag after one week.

The grafting tape can be left on until the grafts show some decent growth, which can be over a period of a few weeks. If left on too long (months) the tape may restrict growth by becoming too tight n the graft area.

In a few weeks the grafts will flower and fruit, prolifically!

A Few Afterthoughts…

All the grafting pictured was carried out mid-summer, because that’s when my eggplant seedlings were large enough to take cuttings from. I have carried out about a dozen eggplant grafts on the one Devil plant, and they have all taken successfully. Tomato can also be grafted on to the Devil plant, and you can have both eggplants and tomatoes grafted onto the same tree too. There’s nothing like experimenting to see what works. I’ve even added two cherry tomato grafts, and they worked out too. I’ll need to figure out how to cover the plant for winter, and what to use to protect the grafts from the cold.

This grafting process make plants that are annual in cold climates into perennials. I have seen tomatoes grafted onto Devil plants in greenhouses fruiting almost all year round, and I have seen outdoor eggplant grafted Devil plants survive a winter and fruit for their second year here in Melbourne, Victoria. So yes, it really works! This will definitely change the way you grow tomatoes and eggplants…
 
 
 
 

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104 Responses to “Grafting Eggplant onto Devil Plant”

  1. Grace Says:

    Very informative, great article Angelo!

  2. BOB HEALY Says:

    Angelo,
    Excellent work. I have been looking for this type of detail since reading of Italian Mr.G. Marino ‘s success with Devil’s Fig ( Solanum Torvum) & Eggplant & Tomato. I tried chip budding in November 2009 with Eggplant & Tomato on the main trunk about 2 metres up. Buds appear to take but no growth. I even tried taking out a thin wedge of bark above the chip bud to force growth: still seems to be alive but no growth. I will try the wedge graft on some of the limbs. Is there any difference between Solanum Torvum (Devil’s Fig) and Solanum Capsicoides ( Devil’s Plant or Cockroach Berry). Have you found any variety of Eggplant that works well or better as the scion. Thanks

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Bob,
      The wedge graft is very reliable for grafting eggplants onto Solanum capsicoides. I have recently been shown another successful grafting technique for grafting scions to the sides of branches rather than on the ends. The scion is cut at an angle from one side only, and a T-shaped cut is made on the bark of the rootstock (just like in a bud graft), and the bark is lifted and the scion inserted and taped up with grafting tape.

      From the descriptions I’ve seen of Solanum torvum (Turkey Berry), it sounds very similar to Solanum Capsicoides (Cockroach Berry) in size and structure (along with the thorns too!), it’s obviously from the same Solanaceae family, and it’s used for grafting eggplants onto, so I’d think they are pretty similar. Incidentally, Wild tobacco (Solanum mauritianum) is another popular Solanum rootsock used for grafting eggplants, so I would guess that as a rootstock for grafting eggplants there is no real diffrence.

      As to which eggplant variety to use, I’ve seen a wide range used as the scion. I’m using “Black Beauty”, a friend of mine has five different varieties, including “Midnight Mini Lebanese”. It appears that most work well, including the standard shop-bought seedling varieties. The only negative report I have is from a friend who grafted one of the exotic lavender and white coloured eggplants (don’t know the name of the variety, neither did they) and it produced lots of growth but would not flower. If anyone wishes to let us know which varieties work best for them and what their location is (as in State or City), that would be much appreciated.

      Regards

      • BOB HEALY Says:

        Thanks Blackthorn,
        Now that it is April 2010, is it too late to onto Cockroach Berry. Eggplants are still in growing condition, Tomatoes a bit dicey, Capsicums are still growing strongly.
        I also grafted eggplant onto Kangaroo Apple. The wedge graft is doing ok, the chip bud is growing very slowly.
        In a small glasshouse I have a capsicum (grown from Greengrocers saved seed), it is still producing and is 4 years old. Will it last much longer.

  3. Blackthorn Says:

    Hi Bob,
    I believe it might be a bit late to graft eggplants onto a Cockroach Berry/Devil plant at this time (April/Autumn) as the graft won’t have much time to grow, and may fail because the cooler weather may kill of the scions. If the graft survives the winter temperatures, then it won’t be a wasted effort.

    Really, there’s no harm in trying, if the graft fails, you can start some eggplant seedlings really early in your greenhouse, and graft them in spring onto the same locations.

    I’ll let everyone know that you can definitely use Kangaroo Apples, which are also part of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, to graft eggplants onto. Just remember that the Kangaroo Apple is a short-lived perennial, with a lifespan of 5-6 years. After that your rootstock dies off and you have to start over with a new plant to graft onto.

    Capsicums, and most of the chilli family, are perennial plants in their tropical places of origin. A greenhouse can keep the temperatures elevated enough to replicate the plants native climate, preventing them from dying off in winter. I don’t own a greenhouse, so I can talk from experience here, but I’ve heard reports of them potentially lasting 7 or more years.

    I’m trying some Bhut Jolokia Chilli plants (world’s hottest chillis) in a friend’s greenhouse over winter, I’ll be happy if they survive so I can plant them out next year.

  4. BOB HEALY Says:

    Do you know of a source of Cockroach Berry or Turkey Berry seeds to use as rootstock for tube grafting.
    Thanks
    Bob

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Bob,
      Don’t know of any commercial sources of Cockroach Berry seeds, it’s one of those plants that are distributed amongst keen gardeners via cuttings.

      Perhaps I should have let mine seed before I grafted onto all the available branches!

      Regards

  5. chris Says:

    fascinating – and good, clear intructions. i have grafted tomato onto potato in sub-tropical Nepal bit they’re both annual of course. How does one acquire devil plant seed??? Thanks, Chris

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Chris,
      I propagate the devil plant from cuttings, which is exactly how the people that gave me the plant propagated it, and so on. It does seed., I’ve just cut off the flowering branches to graft onto. This year I’ll allow some of the flowers to set seed and I’ll aim to make them available to people who would like some. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Regards

    • marcello Says:

      ciao bob mi chiamo marcello da palermo qui si fa linnesto da sempre ma la pianta e simile ma diversa. mi interessano dei semi la mia mail marcy179@virgilio.it se ti possono servire dei semi di melenzana bianca ho altri semi fammi sapere

  6. Joe Kearns Says:

    I was really intrigued and fascinated by grafting eggplant onto devil plants. The question that I have is, is devil plant and wild tobacco plant the same thing. Because I believe you can graft eggplant onto wild tobacco plants. I would appreciate it if you could let me know.

    Thank you
    Joe

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Joe,

      The Devil Plant (Solanum capsicoides) and Wild Tobacco (Solanum mauritianum) are totally different species, but both are of the same genus or family, the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants. You can graft eggplants onto Wild Tobacco in exactly the same way. In fact, I will be grafting eggplants onto both Wild Tobacco and Devil Plants at a community permaculture greenhouse where I do voluntary work in the next month or so.

      Regards

  7. Alan Langley-Jones Says:

    Had great yields of eggplant Supreme from Capsicoides rootstock last year – until stormy weather began breaking the plants up at the graft union. Partly my fault as we let too much fruit develop and the weight was a strain – this year will harvest fruit when immature.

  8. Suresh Says:

    Angelo,

    Thanks for the detailed guidance on how to graft eggplant on to the Devil Plant. Thanks also for noting that in addition to eggl[plant we can also graft tomato and capsicum.

    To protect the graft in winter, it seems to me that a sheet of thick clear plastic stiched on two sides to use it as a cylinder with stakes around the Devil Plant would help.

    For grafting, I choose a vigorous branch and splice the bark with cambium with care to avoid cutting the wood of the stock plant. Slice the graft on one side to expose the cambium and place it under the cambium of the stock and tie it with grafting tape. I leave the rest of the branch intact until the graft takes. One it has taken, I cut off the branch of the stock above the graft. To avoid moving the graft, I merely fine spray with cold water twice a day for two weeks. By then the graft normally has taken.

  9. Will Says:

    I believe that you may be dealing with Solanum Aculeatissimum instead of Solanum Capsicoides, at least I think so as my plants really don’t look anything like yours. My leaves have much less intense lobing, a dusting of fine hairs and a small amount of tiny thorns. Yours look like a landscape manager’s nightmare. S. Capsicoides was once included in S.Aculeatissimum as variety denudatum which has led to sharing of the common name and many instances of one being misidentified as the other. From your photos, I think you are probably better off as my grafts have good disease resistance but nowhere near as vigorous growth.

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi, Will, thanks for this information, this is really helpful. You’re right, the names devil plant and cockroach berry are used for both Solanum Aculeatissimum and Solanum Capsicoides. Apparently there is some controversy amongst taxonomists over this one! Looking up some of the horticultural databases (see link) I found that “…”In Asia Solanum aculeatissimum is used as rootstock for tomato and eggplant….” I can understand the rationale of using this plant as a rootstock, it is a vigorous plant that grows over 2m tall, wheras Solanum Capsicoides is a smaller, less vigorous shrub. It looks like Solanum aculeatissimum is indeed the plant I’m using here, although Solanum Capsicoides will work well too, but will give you more of an “eggplant bush” than an “eggplant tree”.

  10. Ratatosk Says:

    Great article on this type of grafting, thank you.

    Following an italian website, the plant you’re talking about is a Solanum torvum, see at bottom of each pages :

    http://www.florablog.it……. (I removed all the links since your website seems to block my comment…)

    Look at the old woody parts, the leaves and the very young parts of the plant…

    You can also translate this website with Google Translate or using Google Chrome.

    I can’t find seeds or cuttings of your Solanum rootstock for eggplant, could I buy you some seeds, cuttings, or can you tell me where to find it ?

    Thank you, best regards,

    R.,
    Belgium

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Ronny,

      There’s been quite a bit of speculation over the identity of the plant in this article. Another visitor to this site, Will, in his previous comments, suggested that the plant pictured is Solanum Aculeatissimum. I checked this against Solanum torvum, which appears to be popular in Italy, and one of the differences is the fruit. This one definitely isn’t Solanum torvum, the fruit look different. Incidentally, while researching the two plants, I found out that Solanum torvum has edible fruit, and from what I’ve read, the fruit of both Solanum Aculeatissimum and Solanum Capsicoides cannot be eaten, thay are in fact quite toxic!

      Regards

  11. ecogradinar Says:

    Hello
    I must say that your site is fantastic! You have many usefull informations, very well organized!

    I am so curious about this egg-plant tree! I can’t wait to see your pictures!

    Thank you for your work, and for your help!

    Marcela Argesanu (Romania)

  12. BOB HEALY Says:

    Angelo,
    I obtained some seed of Solanum Mauritianum (Wild Tobacco) They grew readily, but I am a bit reluctant to graft edible solanum onto them after reading p 60, Action Alert, Organic Gardener, Nov/Dec 2010 which points out that ALL parts of the plant are toxic to humans. What do you think?

    The Eggplant – Lebonese Bunching- is going very nicely grafted onto Kangaroo Apple.
    I got some seed which I believe to be Solanum Torvum. I intend to plant and graft on other solanum.
    Bob Healy

  13. Blackthorn Says:

    Hi Bob,

    Yes, many of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family are toxic, even tomatoes and potatoes. It’s only certain parts of these plants that are edible. Tomato leaves and green potatoes contain the plant alkaloid solanine, which is both a pesticide and fungicide, and serves as part of the plant’s natural defences from being eaten. Eggplant leaves contain the very same substance.

    The plants we are grafting onto are close enough relatives of the eggplant that we can graft onto them without any concerns, as the substances within the plant are not taken up into the fruit.

    Caution is warranted though, as you can’t just graft onto just any of the Solanacea family without a bit of common sense, best to stick to the varieties recommended in gardening circles as these are tried and trusted. I read a case of a couple in Japan grafting eggplant onto a Datura (Devil’s Trumpet), heaven knows why, as these plants have the same alkaloids in them as deadly nightshade (a different class of alkaloids, the tropane alkaloids)… The grafts did indeed take, but when they ate the eggplants they ended up in hospital with tropane alkaloid poisoning. A bit of common sense goes a long way!

    Regards

    • Anthony Says:

      Here in NZ tobacco weed (Solanum mauritianum) is a major pest. It’s allelopathic too, so it can inhibit the growth of nearby plants. I’ve been removing it from Waiheke Island. The first time I handled one I wasn’t wearing gloves or a face mask. Within seconds I was wheezing, coughing, sneezing – it’s awful stuff to handle. Nausea is another side effect. Avoid if possible!

      • Blackthorn Says:

        Hi Anthony,

        Thanks for the warning about Solanum mauritianum, this wouldn’t be the first choice for a grafting rootstock for the reasons you mention.

        Thankfully Devil Plant (Solanum capsicoides) has no such isssues, the only thing you have to be careful of is the thorns, hence why I recommend this species, and why it’s used around the world for grafting eggplants!

  14. rex Says:

    hi how much did the grafted plant yield

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Thanks for asking! The honest truth is… absolutely nothing!!! My grafts unfortunately were on the most part destroyed by sudden extreme heat, but the whole Spring and Summer have been uncharacteristically bad and have caused great disruption to garden yields in Victoria. I’m writing an article soon on the garden updates to explain the effects of our chaotic weather on the garden, but briefly, we had a very hot, wet Spring which was like tropical weather, unfortunately we’re a cold-temperate climate here, so everyone lost all their peas, grapes and early season stone fruit. It’s been a real disaster, even for commercial farmers. When cyclone Yasi hit Queensland, it also disrupted the weather further south, and as a result, we’ve barely had a summer this year, which is bad news for summer crops. I’m hoping that autumn doesn’t arrive too quickly so my eggplant grafts that survived have time to grow and bear fruit, but I’m guessing it’s possibly too late in the season…

      Some friends who also have grafted eggplants managed to get their grafts in earlier because they had access to eggplant seedlings very early (by buying them in an advanced stage ridiculously early in the season – commercial growers produce them in heated greenhouses and sell them to the public), I’ll check to see how their plants went this year. Since I grow my eggplants from seed, then graft them, even starting them indoors didn’t work because we had a shaky start to spring, and the summer has progressively getting shorter here in Melbourne due to climate change over the past few decades, so it’s starting to look like we simply don’y have a long enough summer to do this type of thing without greenhouses!

      Regards

  15. ecogradinar Says:

    If you will save some seeds of Devil Plant, can you put me on the waiting list? :)
    I was not able to find this seeds until now.

    Thak you very much!

    Marcela

  16. Kris Kupsch Says:

    The plant in the picture is Solanum chrysotrichum.

  17. Nicole Kramer Easterday Says:

    I’m completely amazed and humbled by this article! It seems like heaven growing on a devils’ tree to a nightshade lover like me. I would also love to be on your seed list if you have one! I’m so inspired by this idea!!!

    Nicole

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Nicole,

      I’m one of those people who love the Solanaceae family of plants too!
      Luckily, O’ve managed to get a new shoot growing from where my devil plant was removed, I’ll grow it to size again and try to gather some seeds for everyone who has asked!

      Regards

  18. Sean Says:

    I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site under Microfarming. Good stuff!

  19. Waz Says:

    Hi Blackthorn,

    If you have seed to spare I would be very inerested!

  20. Jes Says:

    Hey there how are you? my dad sent me ur website and Im glad he did uve got some cracker nfo!!! I love the stuff about growing fruit trees closer together. I think its amazing that you grafted that and im keen to try it. We have a tree that is simular to the picture in our yard but im not 100. ive been told that its wild tobacco plant. IT has purple/blue little buds/ flowers on it. it grows to bout 2m n it has a really horrible caustic like chemical smell to it when u touch the leaves or cut it down (like we usually do) Is it the same plant? Thanks would really like ur thoughts
    Jess

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Jess, thanks for the great feedback!

      A ‘wild tobacco plant’ (Solanum mauritianum) can be used to graft eggplant or tomato onto.

      Do a search for the botanical name Solanum mauritianum to identify it correctly. Purple flowers with yellow centres, and leaves that smell like diesel when crushed.

  21. nick mahlook Says:

    hi, love the idea of grafting eggplant to a solanum rootstock of any discription just need to find the seed anywhere you can find them or buy them in melbourne?
    thanks nick

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Nick,

      I must clarify, please don’t use “any solanum rootstock of any description” – only specific ones, such as the ones listed in the article!

      Most solanum species are unsuitable as rootstock, and many solanum species are toxic!

      Please, only use the ones everybody else is using, they’re tried and tested… and safe.

      The suitable eggplant rootstock are normally freely sharesd amongst gardeners, you might find some if you ask around. Mine was inadvertently uprooted by a well-meaning family member when I was waiting for it to seed. I managed to rescue a tiny plant that popped up near where the parent plant was, and I’m trying to grow it to size once again.

      Regards

  22. B summers Says:

    Excellent article,simple but great detail

  23. Darrin Says:

    Hi Blackthorn
    I live in mission beach. We have more devil’s fig than you can poke a stick at… if you live in Melbourne and want some seed – try to find a friend up this way (anywhere from Tully to Cape Tribulation)- they are a weed – especially in the disturbed forest after cyclone Yasi !!!

    I have successfully grafted eggplants (long purple, the purple and white variety you talked about, a large green variety and a large white variety) on several occassions using a variation of a toungue and whip graft shown to me buy a local chinese fellow.

    Up here in the tropics, the only way to grow eggplants (or any of the solonacea family) is buy grafting as they are very succeptable to either the bacterial wilt or nematode infection which preceeds the wilt.

    I had 5 plants for about 4 1/2 years producing quite prolifically, though when the neighbour sprayed paraquat along the fencline and killed 4 of them off, I was not happy! the other i transferred to a mates place when i moved and it is still producing – though not a lot it has been over 7 years now!

    The success rate for myself is not great – prolly about 20% of all attempts. But by far the most important part of the process is POST graft care. The more you care for them the more successful…..

    I get some fencing tie wire and make a loop around about 15cm in diameter. I then tie a thicker piece of wire at right angles to the loop so it might look something like an angel’s halo in a fancy dress getup. I then put the loop over the graft and either stick the thicker peice of wire into the ground (or tie it to the stem of the devil’s fig below the graft). I then drape a freezer bag over the loop and tie it off.

    The whole pot (i don’t graft in situ but grow in pots for grafting and plant out once they take) is put into full shade for about 3 days, then i put the pot in the dappled shade of the rainforest for another week. After that they are usually good to go if they are going to work.

    BTW, if you can get hold of parafilm for the grafting instead of grafting tape, this is the bomb! it is stretchy so you can get a good tight hold over the graft, but it is not UV stabilised so it will fall off the graft once put in the sun! I work in a science lab so i have access to a small amount of this stuff and it is great… though i have found tha surveyors tape works very well too :)

    a god site

    cheers

  24. Noel Says:

    Hi
    A great article- most informative and interesting! Would love a few seeds of your Solanum Aculeatissimum if possible. I am concerned about using the right rootstock because of the toxicity of some species. Is the S. Aculeatissimum resistant to nematodes and the soil-borne microfungi that infect eggplant?

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Thanks, I’m trying to grow one for seed, it’s taking a while as it’s a small plant. I would think that this rootstock species is resistant to pathogens that affect eggplant because this is bot a cultivated species, but a wild plant that is very hardy, what I would call “bulletproof” and doesn’t seem to be affected by much at all. Eggplants in very susceptible to variety of diseases and some pests. and they are ggrafted onto these wild rootstock which have higher resistance to disease, pests and climatic conditions. This rootstock species is documented as being resistanct to Verticillium wilt.

  25. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Just by chance I found this great site. For the past four years I have been looking for that misterious solanum capsicoides or devil’s apple plant. I live in Sydney SouthWest and if anyone has this plant I realy would like to have, seeds or cuttings please.

  26. phil@tyalgum Says:

    Solanum chrysotrichum grows wild up here in subtropical Northern New South Wales along the roadsides and in waste areas – it is also known as the Giant Devils Fig. I am happy to collect and send seed to anyone who wants to give grafting a try, although as you can appreciate the seed is only produced at certain times of the year. This plant can attain a height of about fifteen feet and as much across, it would look great as a multi graft as it has many semi-woody branches.

  27. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Hi Phil, can we get seeds this year or we need to wait until next year?

  28. phil@tyalgum Says:

    I’ll check to see if the plants are currently in fruit, they were flowering last time I looked.

  29. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Thanks Phil, I hope you find some fruits, I already feel closer to abundance of eggplants and maybe capsicums as they don’t do well here in South West Sydney,

  30. phil@tyalgum Says:

    Checked some wild plants today, no sign of fruits or flowers although they were only youngish. I know of some older trees near Nimbin, will try and pick some fruit next time I drive across that way.

  31. Reinout Says:

    Hi there,

    Fantastic and intriguing idea. How much did you harvest at the end of this ‘tree’? Also, how did you go about designing a guild around this ‘tree’? Always assuming you did design a guild off course. I will definitely try this as soon as I can find some suitable rootstock.

    Just wondering if there are more ideas like this, peppers and tomatoes have been mentioned. The normal fruit-trees as well. Would there be other vegetables that can be ‘treed’/perennialized this way?

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Reinout,

      Long story, but I found that in Melbourne, Australia, our summers are getting progressively shorter and shorter, giving us a very short growing season. As I do a lot of seed saving, I grow my eggplants from seed, but the problem with that is by the time the seedlings had grown to a size that I could graft with, it was in the middle of an extreme summer heat, causing some grafts to dry out, and for the ones that survived, there wasn’t enough summer left to grow, flower and fruit from the grafts.

      Many friends of mine just use advanced eggplants which they buy from a garden nursery very early in the season, and graft with those, giving them tens of kilos of eggplants. Often, the grafts do not survive winter and need to be regrafted. It’s much easier with a greenhouse to grow your own seedlings early for grafting.

      As I mentioned in a previous comment, my tree was inadvertently uprooted by a well-meaning family member and disposed of when I was waiting for it to seed. It’s been replaced by a mango tree! I managed to rescue a tiny plant that popped up near where the parent plant was, and I’m growing it in a pot for now.

      Being a forest garden, there are always guilds around the trees. In this case, since there were a lot of low branches, I could only use ground covers and hebaceous plants around it, and some climbers on a trellis behind it. The climbers were snow peas in the cold season, which were suceeded by climbing beans and scarlet runnier beans in the warm season. Some perennial herbs provided a home for beneficial insects, and some daisy like plants were included to provide a food source for them. Since the devil plant has an extensive root system, I avoided planting anything that I would need to dig up to avoid root disturbance. I underplanted with clover as a nitrogen fixer on the sunny side, and in the areas that were shaded out I piled heaps of materials as a mulch which would break down as a form of “sheet composting” to feed the growth of the tree.

      I’m not aware of any other annual vegetables that can be grafted in this way. You can get perennial chilli trees, which naturally grow into a small tree around 2.5m (8′) high though.

  32. Reinout Says:

    Interesting, especially the amount of produce coming from one tree! I will try to find some seed and ‘copy’ your guild just to see how it all works.

    The chilli tree is (Rocoto chili) is known as a rootstock so that might be an idea for grafting. Also the Malabar gourd is apparently used as a rootstock for cucumbers, and supposedly one can use it for any Curcurbit. Not sure if this would result in ‘perennial’ cucumbers though.

    It would be an interesting idea to use these ideas to make a ‘family tree’ – always assuming the graft would survive winter. This way, theoretically a collection can be kept alive without reseeding and in a small space (for those that would like to collect).

  33. Helen Says:

    Great read . Thanks for the grafting notes.

    After reading all the comments I am pretty sure that my eggplant was grafted onto the Solanum Acculeatissimum (I bought it from a stall holder at the Torrens Island Market out side Port Adelaide about 3 month ago).

    I noticed thorns on the stem of new growth then to my horror I noticed the leaves had thorns along the the main veins. I cut out the bolt down to the graft after I reseached the internet and found information that some devil plant are not suitable. Is there any where that can tests toxitity in the fruit to be sure?

    Regard Helen

    Adelaiade

    • Blackthorn Says:

      It appears that Solanum aculeatissimum is used to describe Solanum capsicoides, which also goes under the names of Cockroach berry, Indian Love Apple, Soda Apple, Devils Apple and Devil Plant. If that’s what it is, rest assured that it’s used extensively for growing eggplants by the migrant community in Australia and also in Asia. Not sure what other members of this family that are unsuitable for grafting are also called Devil Plants, I don’t know of any. I’d be curious to know who suggested that idea.

  34. Helen Says:

    So, if my stock is devil pant which I am confident it is , then most likley the fruit from the eggplant will be safe to eat . Thankyou once again.

  35. Maria Pilli Says:

    I have a large kerosene plant (Solanaceae mauritianum) that I am planning to graft with tomato and eggplant. I believe this plant is toxic to humans and is considered a pest in Australia. My question is, does the fruit produced via the grafts take on any of the rootstock toxicity. Is the produce safe to eat? Any assistance would be appreciated.

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Solanum mauritianum (Wild tobacco) is commonly used for grafting eggplants here in Melbourne. The plant contains toxic alkaloids that render it inedible, but so do tomato plants, you can only eat the fruit on tomato plants! The produce is definitely safe to eat, the alkaloids do not transfer into the fruit.

    • Maria Pilli Says:

      Thank you for your information. This weekend is grafting time!!

  36. phil@tyalgum Says:

    Ruth I notice the cockroach berry bushes around here are flowering at the moment. The local council has been clearing a lot of roadside vegetation of late so they can be difficult to find. I will watch a couple of plants in a secret location of mine and let you know when the seed is ripe. Phil.

  37. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Thank you Phil, I am realy looking forward to those seeds, I hope you can get some for me. Ruth

  38. Bob Healy Says:

    Hello,
    I’m having a few problems with my grafted Eggplant onto Cockroach Berry. It has grown beautifully, nearly 2 metres high, flowers prolifically but no fruit. I have tried shaking and brushing the pollen between flowers but no result. It is growing in a glasshouse (not heated).
    Also heavy problems with whitefly & green aphids in the same area. I have vacuumed (low-pressure) the whitefly, sprayed with Eco-oil, hung yellow traps etc & squashed aphids with fingers & removed heavily infested leaves. Next plan is to use a horticultural spray – 1/2 cup dishwashing liquid, 2 cups veg oil – shake to milky colour then use 2 Tablespns of above to 1 litre water on a cool day.
    Any other ideas?
    Regards
    Bob

  39. phil@tyalgum Says:

    Bob this may sound weird but I have been having success with using a tuning fork! I bought one from eBay quite cheaply and found that by touching the flower stalks while it was vibrating the pollen was released in clouds and fruit eventually began to set. You can actually see the pollen drift as it occurs – works well on tomatoes, tamarilloes, in fact most of the members of the Solanaceae seem to need a “buzz” pollinator to set a decent crop.

  40. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    I have been looking for this evasive cockroach for so long without success. Does any one has seeds or cuttings? I live in Narellan NSW, this is near Camden

  41. phil@tyalgum Says:

    I have some plants of Solanum chrysotrichum growing close by.. this is the Giant Devil’s fig which can also be used as a rootstock. Seeds should be available in the next couple of months, there are a couple of people waiting for it on this forum.

  42. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Please let me know when the seeds are ready, thank Ruth

  43. Bob Healy Says:

    Thanks Phil, the tuning fork is a bit left field but obviously does the job. I don’t have any problem with tomatoes in the glasshouse, just rattle the stakes that are connected by a long string.

    Does anyone have an opinion on Leopard Slugs. Ester Dean in her No Dig Gardening book extolled the virtue of them saying she had never seen one on a living plant. I have seen them on Rhubarb leaves and Eggplant but not necessarily eating but I did see one eating a Strawberry, admiiedly it was a bit overripe. As I only keep snails & slugs under control by picking them up & dropping into a bucket of hot water the Leopard slugs are becoming plentiful & I feel a bit guilty if I step on one in the dark. Are they good friends or enemies?
    Bob

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi Bob, Leopard slugs are definitely beneficial, they are well know for being predatory slugs that eat other slugs and snails!

  44. Helen Says:

    My eggplant bush has been invaded again by the devil graft
    I have removed and planted stem in corner of my garden hopefully i can graft on to it. I have heard of polinating pumpkin flowers when the bees were not around a few years back. Tuning fork idea could work for the musical good vibrations.

  45. raymond Says:

    Hoping that you or others may shed some light, after finding this very informative article I’ve since went out hunting for my egg plant root stock. I’ve come across the Solanum linnaeanum by a local creek ( I believe that is what it is). Although all reports refer to the entire plant being toxic including fruit until very ripe and black. I was hopping that it may be useful or should I go ahead with a known and trusted Solanum cultivar . Also were may I find (in South Australia)if I need to continue my search for alternative rootstocks. thanks raymond

    • Blackthorn Says:

      I must stress the importance of safety here, an increased yield of eggplants is nice, but not that important that you would risk your health for it! Please use only tried and tested safe solanum species for eggplant rootstock, I can’t emphasise that enough.

  46. marcello Says:

    ciao a tutti sono marcello da palermo sicilia da noi si pratica questo innesto da un po di tempo produce molte più melanzane di una pianta normale resiste all nostro inverno perfettamente si possono innestare sempre nella stessa pianta diversi tipi di melanzana fra cui quella bianca si può inestare anche nello stramonio non ci sono coseguenze per la salute anche perche le bacche del solanum il mio amico bangladese li mangia e dice che sono come delle melanzane in miniatura cmq se qualcuno puo spedirmi dei semi di questa pianta spinosa ne saro grato la mia posta marcy179@virgilio.it

  47. Lee Naish Says:

    Great site – thanks. I heard of grafting onto devil plants on “Vasilli’s Garden” a few years back and have been trying to get one (on and off) since then. Recently I got one from Vasilli’s nursery (he normally sells them with grafts in spring but he said this year his grafts failed). It was a bit late in the season, and the plant was somewhat pot bound, a bit leggy and yellow and infested with white fly and two-spotted mite I think. I sprayed it, re-potted it and tried a couple of tomato grafts (I didn’t have any eggplants growing), one of which (using pretty much identical technique to what is suggested here) has taken, and the plant is looking significantly better.

    What I would like is some advice on what to do next. What sort of position/soil would it like to be planted in? I have an unheated green house but it doesn’t get as much sun as some parts of the garden, and the soil in it isn’t great, and tends to be very dry (due to an old pomegranate next door). Maybe I should keep it in a large pot so I can put it in the greenhouse when it gets cold?
    Should I trim back the tomato growth before winter so I can protect it better? Any suggestions welcome! Looks like I should take a cutting (the plant has one side shoot I can chop off) so I can experiment with some different possibilities also. I’ll be trying egg plant next season also, of course.

    I also wonder if Kangaroo Apple root stock would do ok in poor soil (like my front yard)…?

  48. marcello Says:

    ciao lee la cosa più bella della pianta diavolo la puoi fare crescere in terreni dove non crescerebbe quasi nulla non prende malattie alle radici come il pomodoro ho la melanzana per quanto riguarda l’inverno ti consiglio di ripararla per bene se supera l’inverno ti produrrà nuovamente puoi fare anche degli innesti di varie melanzane su diavolo cosi da avere un albero di macedonia hahaha ti consiglio molto sole per una produzione migliore e non togliere tutte le foglie del diavolo ma solo le gemme..

  49. phil@tyalgum Says:

    Hey guys I haven’t forgotten your seeds, we have had a bit of storm damage up here and I noticed some of the trees I was watching had a lot of branches snapped off. As they generally grow beside creeks they have been hard to get to with the high water levels but will check them out for fruit as soon as I can get access again.

  50. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Thank you Phil, is good to know we have not been forgoten. I hope you have not been personaly affected by the stom, please take care when collectiong those seeds.

  51. phil@tyalgum Says:

    Hey guys I finally managed to collect some fruit from the eggplant tree today. It is Solanum chrysotrichum, often called the Giant Devils fig. If you post your e-mail addresses on here I have plenty of seed to share. Phil.

  52. Warren Keen Says:

    I would love some seed if you spare some.

    W

  53. Nicole Easterday Says:

    Yay!!! I would LOVE some seed. My email is Nicole@farmcurious.com. Shoot me a note and I’ll send you my address. Thanks so much!!!!!

  54. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Hi Phil, I am looking forward to those seeds. Please let me know how much and how do you want the to receive pay, my email is ruthbolomey@hotmail.com
    Thank you Ruth

  55. Sharon Says:

    Hi I too would love a couple of seeds.

  56. Sharon Says:

    My email is sharonpkr20@gmail.com. When do I plant the seeds as we are in Autumn and I live in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I have only just found this web site and would love to try grafting egg plant and tomatoes. I have been pinching the little tomato leaves that grow between the stem and main branch and hope I can keep them alive through the winter (I recycle empty toilet roll holders and fill them with potting mix – this works beautifully for all seedlings and I plant into the ground when they are quite big – no problem with snails eating my babies this way). Tomatoes are doing well and I am really hopeful.

  57. Ruth Bolomey Says:

    Hi Phil, I received the seeds, Thabk you so much for sending them. i will keep you inform of how the go here in South-Wes tSydney. Thank you again

  58. Ray Gremillion Says:

    I would love some of those seeds. My email address is ragremill@netzero.net

  59. sharonpkr Says:

    Hi I would really appreciate it if you could tell me when I should plant the seeds for the devil plant – I live in the south east of Melbourne and I do have an area (around my swimming pool) that does not get frost. Do I need to wait twelve months before grafting an eggplant onto the devil plant (I think I read that the devil plant needed to grow for a year before I could graft the eggplant on). Would really appreciate your thoughts

    • Darrin Says:

      Hi Sharon. Not so much as a time thing as more a size issue. The stem should be about the width of a pencil…too thick and it will BS to woody, too thin and it is too hard to manipulate, cut and graft…also too thin makes it hard to line up the cambium layers…up here in the wet tropics, they are ready to graft after a couple of months at most. Sometimes I plant them in pots and a week or two before grafting, put them in the shade of the rainforest. This seems to stimulate hormones to grow quickly towards the light which makes the stems grow quicker and therefore grow softer, which makes it easier to graft

  60. Ray Gremillion Says:

    Got the seeds Phil. Man, what trip this is gonna be! Your idea of pollinating with a tuning fork was great! I’ve been using the vibrations from a battery-operated toothbrush with a piece of wire inserted (drilled & glued) into the very end of the hard plastic tip. Your idea is “no batteries required” and, will last forever. The article and replies have been enlightening. This thread seems to concern more folks with cooler/shorter growing seasons. Here, we have a rather long growing season but several mid-summer months of 33-34 degrees and above. My tomatoes and peppers pretty-much shut down production in these temps. By the time the season begins to change and cool off a little, my plants have usually caught one of the wilts, viruses or bacterial cruds and are either dead or close to dead. Do you know if growers were able to increase production in areas with extremely hot summers as a result of these grafts? Also, do grafts using “solanum chrysotrichum” work with hot peppers like the Bhut Jalokia, Habanero, Jalapeno etc….?

  61. phil@tyalgum Says:

    Good to hear they have arrived ok. Theoretically I guess you could graft any of the solanums onto the rootstock, but I guess there are more experienced growers around than me. I read about a couple in the US who used Brugmansia as rootstock and grew poisoned tomatoes… but a lot of immigrants from the Mediterranean here use the Devil’s Fig without any ill effects. Glad you like the tuning fork tip – watch closely when you touch the stem close to the flowers, you’ll see the cloud of pollen burst from the anthers.

    • Blackthorn Says:

      Hi folks, I’ll repeat the warning, please DO NOT use just any solanum species as rootstock, as many are toxic.

      Use only the ones I have recommended in the article – they are tried and tested, and they have been chosen by cultures worldwide because they are the best rootstock for this purpose of grafting eggplants, these work the best, and are completely safe, which is why they are used!

  62. Angelika Says:

    Great info! Have a lot of Devil plants at my place so will get myself some eggplant seedlings and graft them onto the little devils as soon as the seedlings are big enough. Wish me luck, I have never attempted grafting.

  63. Gerg Says:

    Your photo is very obviously of a Giant Devil’s Fig (Solanum chrysotrichum, not S. capsicoides or S. aculeatissimum).

    • Angelo (admin) Says:

      Hi Gerg, your plant identification may indeed be correct, when people refer to “devil plants” for eggplant grafting, they may be referring (or indeed using) any of the “devil plants” in this family – Devil’s apple (Solanum capsicoides), Devil’s fig (Solanum torvum) or Giant devil’s fig (Solanum chrysotrichum).

      Here’s a link to a guide which shows the difference between Devil’s fig (Solanum torvum) and Giant devil’s fig (Solanum chrysotrichum) – see here.

      There is disagreement with the classification and taxonomy of this group – extract from factsheet “*Solanum chrysotrichum (prev. S. hispidum)”

      “Common name – Giant Devil’s Fig.
      Relationships – Michael Nee (NY) has made the comment on specimens in AD that the material of S. hispidum from Costa Rica and Panama is a complex of species of southern Central America and NW Panama, not fully resolved in Flora of Panama (see also Solanaceae Source for a discussion of this).
      The complex involves S. chrysotrichum, S. torvum, both present in Australia, and S. pluviale. S. chrysotrichum and S. torvum are both considered by Bean (2004) to belong to the S. torvum group of subg. Leptostemonum. Levin (2006) also assigned them to the Torvum clade (see Solanaceae Source).”

      Doing some research, I found an article published by the Queensland State Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – “Grafting eggfruit to control bacterial wilt” (Source: http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/plants/fruit-and-vegetables/vegetables/other-vegetable-crops/grafting-eggfruit-to-control-bacterial-wilt)

      They in fact recommend grafting eggplants on to a resistant rootstock to avoid the problem of bacterial wilt which is a major disease of eggplants.

      Here’s an extract from the article:

      Suitable rootstock

      A rootstock that can be used in eggfruit grafting is devil’s fig (Solanum torvum), the fruit of which is used in Indonesian and Thai cooking. Devil’s fig is quite resistant to bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum); however, it has shown wilt symptoms when planted through plastic mulch, due to the higher soil temperature under the plastic.

      Other possible types of rootstock are giant devil’s fig (Solanum hispidum – beware the thorns) as well as wild tobacco tree (Solanum mauritianum). Although not included as part of the trial, these may be good options if their resistance to wilt is as good as devil’s fig. The amount of suckering from these plants is unknown. Devil’s fig tends to be more adaptable to different soils in the wild than the other two.”

      They are suggesting that Devil’s fig (Solanum torvum), Giant devil’s fig (Solanum chrysotrichum) and wild tobacco tree (Solanum mauritianum) are suitable as rootstocks for grating eggplants onto.

      Please note, I’ve edited the “weed” references in your comment as this is an international website and plants native to one or many parts of the world will be inevitably considered a “weed” (whatever that subjective term actually means) in some part of the world somewhere, that goes without saying.

      Since your concerns relate to Australia, it should be clear that the technique of grafting eggplants onto these rootstocks is used in the cooler states of Australia, where the main benefit is being able to produce a large crop over a relatively short summer period available for production. Also consider that in the cooler climates the rootstock does not grow so rampantly as it does in the warmer climates up north, and is not problematic. It would appear to me that the only valid reason why you would be grafting eggplants in the really hot climates where the rootstock may run rampant if uncontrolled is for disease resistance. It should go without saying that if a plant is problematic to a certain area, people should exercise some personal responsibility and common sense!

  64. marikarabdsegud Says:

    o k

  65. rhodes521 Says:

    Hello, have just come across all this great information while searching for grafting rootstocks for eggplant. Fantastic. I really want to get hold of some seeds if anyone has available!!!

  66. katharine Says:

    I have managed to obtain some devil plant seeds. You say it’s common to graft aubergines in europe but I can’t find anything about it other than your site. Will it be ok in a container so I can bring it inside as our winters can be very cold (-16 max). Summers are warm (25 average) and humid. I’d appreciate an update on your trials, did you get any fruit? best regards Katharine

    • Angelo (admin) Says:

      Hi Katherine, they’re grafting eggplants (aubergines) in many countries around the world, many people are doing it in Australia where I live too.

      Yes, you’re correct, my site is one of the few information resources world-wide on this topic! Remember, not everyone speaks English, has internet access or writes instructional material for free distribution! That includes most people world-wide who are living in self-sufficient communities or growing food for a living who use this technique!

      Yes you can grow it in a fairly large container, such as a 40-50cm wide pot so you can bring it inside, as log as it gets enough light it will be ok.

      I didn’t get a chance to graft any this year because we had another crazy series of ‘record weather events’ here in Melbourne, Australia. I’ll write about last years gardening adventures in detail in another article. Briefly, we had one of the coldest Novembers on record (our Spring season was really cold so summer vegies couldn’t grow and our warm season started a month or more later than usual), and then we had a record heatwave over a period of three weeks through February (our late summer) where the temperatures soared to around 40 degrees Celsius, without any rain, and now the temperatures have plummeted once again and rain has returned, so it’s anyone’s guess as to whether we will get more hot weather for summer vegetables to continue growing. Where I live, if the spring season, which is when I do the eggplant grafting, is not normal, then it ruins the possibility completely. A greenhouse would make a huge difference, but I don’t have one of those!

      • jezamy Says:

        It is certainly mentioned in a few places here and there For instance, this man claims to be the first person to grow an eggplant/tomato tree grafted on Devil’s Fig (2008):
        http://www.italymagazine.com/italy/sicily/italian-grows-tomato-eggplant-tree

        Though my copy of Tomatoes for Everyone (Allen Gilbert, published 1997, reprinted 2006) shows a picture of a ‘solanum plant’ with both eggplant and tomatoes. At a guess I’d say its also Devil’s Fig though there is also mention (though not photographed) of the author grafting onto a weed ‘Solanum orvum’ (that’s possibly meant to be Solanum Torvum).

        Then there’s this article, apparently from 1989 which mentions grafting eggplant onto Devil’s Fig:
        http://rfcarchives.org.au/Next/Fruits/SolanumFamily/GraftingTomEgg9-89.htm

        So definitely not new. Your article is certainly the best instructional guide that I’ve seen on this particular topic though.

      • Angelo (admin) Says:

        Thanks for the links to extra information on the topic and your kind comments, much appreciated!

  67. jeza Says:

    After a bit of scouting around Melbourne I managed to get a Devil plant cutting a few weeks ago. I’m trying to get it established in water but after a bit over two weeks there is little sign of roots. Some white spots have formed on the lower stem (where submerged in water) about a week ago so not sure if that’s an early part of root development. Although the larger leaves died off, there seems to be some leaf growth. I am moving houses at the end of this week and wouldn’t be able to keep it in water for an hour or two that day so would it hurt to transfer it to potting mix sooner? Hopefully it works out because I may not get the chance to get another cutting after this. I’ve had some success in growing basil and tomato cuttings in water (although the tomato cuttings I started in potting mix seem to be doing better).

    Also any idea how these plants cope with frost? Where we’re moving to is 500-600m elevation, so a little more frost prone than Melbourne. I might be able to keep it indoors for the coming winter if that’s safer.

  68. katharine Says:

    Hi, I recently got some seeds of Solanum capsicoides, I was delighted and put them in a seed mix just like my tomatoes and peppers at 25 degrees c, but they haven’t germinated. Any ideas of what’s gone wrong? Best regards, Katharine

  69. Angelo (admin) Says:

    To everyone posting about the ‘weed’ potential of the devil fig, please note THIS IS AN INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE (with 88% of readers from 121 countries outside Australia!), and what plants may be indigenous or native to your area may be a ‘weed’ elsewhere. For some readers this is a discussion of their native plants.

    Your native plants are someone else’s ‘weeds’! A ‘weed’ is not a scientific or biological category or class of plant, it’s a value judgement statement based on human preference – it’s a plant growing where the observer doesn’t like it growing. If we were to write ‘weed warnings’ based on every geographical location’s perspective, EVERY PLANT WOULD HAVE A WEED WARNING!

    As responsible gardeners, and mature adults able to make informed and responsible decisions, it is common sense that if plants have the potential to escape from your garden, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to contain them, and comply with any legalities of your area!

    Secondly, if you’re grafting these solanum rootstocks, all branches SHOULD BE GRAFTED! There shouldn’t be branches producing the rootstock flowers and fruit, you don’t want the plant’s energy going into something you don’t eat, they should be producing eggplants. It’s OK to have some rootstock leaves on the lower branches though.

    • jeza Says:

      Hi Angelo,
      I agree with what you say. What I was saying with my last post is that it’s not a declared weed in (probably) most of Australia either. Where it is a declared weed (in a very small area of Australia) it may not be legal to grow now. It’s a shame that the authorities don’t consider the benefits of these plants as a rootstock when they declare it as a weed. That is why I suggest that taking care to not let this out into the wild so that it won’t be banned in other areas too. Indeed there are many other plants that people can legally grow purely for ornamental reasons that have the potential to become weeds too. Hopefully this website helps spread the word about the benefits of growing this plant. After all it’s much better for the environment than pouring lots of chemical fertilisers, etc. into the ground to compensate for a suboptimal rootstock.

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