Grafting Eggplant onto Devil Plant

Picture 4-016

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)


Spines on stem



Spines on branches



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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.



Completed scion with “V” or wedge shaped end.


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…



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.



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…

189 Responses to Grafting Eggplant onto Devil Plant

  1. Grace says:

    Very informative, great article Angelo!


  2. BOB HEALY says:

    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.



      • 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.


    • 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!



  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.



    • 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 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


    • 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.



  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:


    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 :……. (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,



    • 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!



      • Kurt says:


        We must have something like the Italian breed Solanum Torvum as my wife (who is Thai) uses the berries in her Thai green curry. I look forward to experimenting with the grafting. Cheers


  11. ecogradinar says:

    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:

    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!



    • 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!



  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!



  16. Kris Kupsch says:

    The plant in the picture is Solanum chrysotrichum.


  17. 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!!!



    • 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!



  18. Sean says:

    I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (, 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


    • 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.



  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



  24. Noel says:

    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



    • 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.


    • Maria Pilli says:

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


    • 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.


  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:

    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?


  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?


  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


  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.

    Liked by 1 person

  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.


    • Warren Keen says:

      Hi Phil,

      I would love some seed if you can spare some!



    • atimberline says:

      Phil. here is my email: …I also sent you an email. …much appreciate your work. …I have been collecting wild solanum here in the states and been doing some crossing and selection work… not a lot of the kind of success I was looking for but am finding some interesting genetic material and technique… a number of the attempted crosses have merely resulted in me finding ways to develope haploids/doubled haploids which immediately breed true. Also finding some parthenocarpic fruit set genetic make-ups. …so, not what I am looking for but, interesting, and may in future be of value to cold area and greenhouse growers.
      Tim Peters


  52. Warren Keen says:

    I would love some seed if you spare some.



  53. Yay!!! I would LOVE some seed. My email is 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
    Thank you Ruth


  55. Sharon says:

    Hi I too would love a couple of seeds.


  56. Sharon says:

    My email is 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


  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:

      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):

        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:

        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.


  70. Hey, I would like to congratulate you on thigs blog =) I recently found it, while searching for information on Solanaceae grafting. In my region, there is no Devil Plant, but there are a couple of other species I´ve been thinking of using as rootstocks. This post was very enlightening, and I can see there’s a lot of other useful information here. Thanks for sharing the experience, anad good luck on the future work.



  71. Ray Gremillion says:

    A very kind man (Phil) from this site, sent me some seed for the rootstock.

    I planted them in a powerline area that was overgrown and unused for the 35 years that I’ve lived here. The cable/internet/phone company came through installing the new fiber-optic stuff and destroyed my all of my cherished rootstock! The area looked like ground-zero after they’d left!

    I had been out of action for a while due to a health issue and hadn’t grafted any plants yet. My Devil plants were nice and healthy and now they’re gone.

    Does anyone know where I might locate some more seed? I can certainly benefit from the extended growing season into cooler temps. But, will I experience better production when our tomatoes, eggplants and peppers normally shut down during our extremely hot summer months?


  72. Cassie says:

    I love this idea! I’m trying to find a way to create herb trees, with herbs grafted into a tree-like stem (trunk).
    Specifically, I’d like to grow spiicy or globe basil, in this way. Do you know what rootstock I should use?


    • Angelo (admin) says:

      That’s a rather unusual thing to try to do! To be honest I don’t think it’s even possible, but if anyone has any ideas, I’m open to hearing about them!


  73. Ashlee says:

    Hi Angelo,

    Out of all permaculture websites/blogs I consider yours to be the most informative and easily readible with clear instructions! thankyou. My parents grow eggplant each year (Melbourne) and when I came across this article I was gobsmacked! My father would definetly benifit from a devil plant and therefore wopuld like to ask where I can get one or seeds from?




  74. Rozendo Mendonsa says:

    I do this graft. I got more information on this site. Thanks


  75. Andrew says:


    Do you know of anyone who has had success grafting capsicums onto devil plant rootstock? If so, is it the same procedure as for egg plant?

    Thanks for the great information


    • Angelo (admin) says:

      You’re welcome!
      I’ve never heard of capsicum being grafted onto a devil plant before, perhaps because it may not work, may be worth a try.


  76. marcello says:

    io ho innestato peperoni, è moto difficile che attecchiscano e se pende la crescita non va come quella delle melanzane! crescita bloccata non sono molto compatibili. sto provando su piante di rocoto ben sviluppate dovrebbero essere più compatibili.


  77. John says:

    Do you think I can use Solanum macranthum/ Solanum wrightii as rootstock for eggplant or tomato?
    Will the fruits be poisonous?


  78. marcello says:

    ciao gianni mi piacerebbe provare questo solanum macranthum ti va di fare uno scambio di semi, la mia mail


  79. marcello says:

    non penso che sia tossico come il mauritanium è comunque i cinesi innestano melenzane su piante di mauritanium, ho lasciato l’indirizzo dove ho dato molte spiegazioni su come innestare le melanzane, c’è anche il video dei cinesi che innestano le mellanzane.


  80. marcello says: ciao sarei interessato a semi di australasica lemon o varietà diverse di solanacee se qualcuno mi puo aiutare ne sarei grato.


  81. marcello says:

    in questo post ci sono divesi video di impianti cinesi di melenzane innestate.


  82. John says:

    Mr Marcello:Thanks a lot for information. I asked this because I am worried about poisons or toxic substances from the rootstock. I am sorry that I do not have any of these Solanum spp. or the other plants you wished to have. Its just my curious query. Thanks


  83. marcello says:

    ok giovnanni pensavo avessi dei semi, ho trovato su ebay usa il solanum macranthum voglio provarlo. comunque io sconsiglio di innestare su piante altamente tossiche, il chrysotrichum è eccellente per lo sviluppo delle melanzane la varietà piu bella da innestare è senza dubbio la violetta lunga seta molto produttiva e diventa un vero albero di melanzane.


  84. Andrew says:

    For Australian Solonaceae, try the site below. They deliver world wide.

    I still can’t find the Chinese video. I see many photos but no video.

    Could you resend please?


  85. marcello says:

    ci sono altri videa a pagina 7


  86. John says:

    Mr Macrello: yes, if I do try to grow its better to play safe, use the ‘safer solanum rootstocks. What I like is the big2 plant of the Solanum macranthum. One plant will give all the fruits I want, right?


  87. marcello says:

    gianni non so dirti se i risultati ottenuti innestando su Solanum macranthum siano identici al chrysotrichum per i frutti dipende la qualità di melanzane che si innesta le innaffiature devono essere poche in fase di fioritura e continue quando ci sono i frutti, per farli ingrossare cosi facendo le melanzane vengono senza semi. l’impianto deve essere in pieno sole per crescere e dare ottimi risultati.


  88. Andrew says:

    Thankyou very much for the link to the Chinese grafting video Marcello.


  89. John says:

    Thanks a lot Mr. Marcello. You have been very helpful on this subject for us.


  90. marcello says:

    grazie signor giovanni. ho ordinato i semi di solanum macranthum dagli u.s.a appena arrivano farò crescere subito dei semi, cosi in primavera avrò una pianta da innestare. comunque penso che sia identico al chrysotrichum come caratteristiche ma solo innestandogli si scoprirà l’effettivo potenziale .


  91. john says:

    Mr Marcello; It will be good when you have grafted and get it to fruit. I hope you would post and share with us your results for reading your postings! Thanks in anticipation.


  92. marcello says:

    certamente! il mio post è in continua evoluzione. pubblico sempre foto nuove. se qualcuno vuole contribuire nel post con la propria esperienza, e il benvenuto .


  93. I have Solanum Torvum commonly called Devil’s Fig, Pea Eggplant or Turkey Berry seeds for sale all year round. Better stock than others in my humble opinion as it is 100% edible and just as hardy as the more toxic Solanum, AND it’s not a declared or noxious weed in any state of Australia.
    FREE postage on all seed orders anywhere in OZ. Worldwide shipping available.


    I absolutely encourage offers of swapping/trade/barter too, and would much rather add something cool to my collection, than just make a couple bucks. Hit me up, make an offer, don’t be shy!
    If I don’t have it I definitely want it!!! ;)


  94. Joseph says:

    Hey phil@tyalgum, My e-mail address is
    In the meantime:
    Please, can someone give me e-mail address of phil@tyalgum if possible?
    Now I’ll say it in Italian:
    Qualcuno sa darmi l’indirizzo e-mail di phil@tyalgum

    Thank you


  95. Angelo (admin) says:

    Please note – before people start making comments about ‘weeds’, whatever that non-scientific term actually means, and the potential legalities of distributing plants and seeds in your home country, keep in mind this is an international website, with readers from 120 countries worldwide – what is permitted in your own country is your responsibility, we are a free information resource, use the information responsibly! Thanks :)

    Liked by 1 person

  96. Shipping of Solanum Torvum seed is NOT available to the USA , never has been, but yeah I agree that they are mistaken in their information. I meant “Worldwide shipping” in general.
    There are a few things I won’t send to a few places, and it normally says in the checkout and the advert, and if the person still insists on buying despite me asking not to, I just refund or send a similar permitted species.
    This fella does not regrow from the fiberous roots if the tap root is pulled, it is totally edible so the bugs and critters keep it in check in the bush, and the spines are nowhere near as bad as the other Solanum mentioned above.
    Mistakes with ID are pretty common with every countries quarantine and the lists are constantly changing, so if you plan on importing anything, particularly seeds or plants, it is always best to check with your local state AND federal quarantine departments, BEFORE buying anything overseas.
    As the “importer” it is also your legal obligation, so I hope you all do that before every international purchase, from every vendor. You would be surprised by some of the dumb stuff that is prohibited for import in some countries and states.
    Australia’s laws are some of the most baffling of all.
    If you check there is a section on imports up the top of every page that explains all this…


  97. Angelo (admin) says:

    Please note, this is an article on grafting eggplants onto a more vigorous solanum rootstock, not a weed debate – I’ll write an article on weeds soon and welcome on-topic comments there! I’ve omitted any off topic comments here as I like to keep each article’s comments relevant for readers.

    In case anyone is wondering why the term ‘weed’ is unscientific, it’s simply because it’s a human value judgement that refers to any plant growing successfully where people don’t want it to, and is not a valid scientific description of any group of plants botanically, and does not help us understand the plant from a scientific perspective.

    Thanks! :)


  98. Jed says:

    The address for phil@tyalgum is
    Very generous guy with his seeds


  99. Joseph says:

    Very very friendly, thank you Jed :)


  100. marcello says:

    il chrysotrichum per infestare una zona, ha di bisogno di un ambiente umido è caldo! abitat ideale canali di scolo rive dei fiumi. è molto piu infestante il Ricinus communis L. resistente anche a lunghi periodi di siccità.


  101. George says:

    To whoever is able to help: I have grafted a devil plant stock to the eggplant six months ago, and it has grown well and is producing fruit. However I have noticed that suddenly the leaves have started to shrink and some are quite dry, and are falling. I’m not sure why this has happened, and I was wondering if anyone would be able to give advice about what has happened and how it can be fixed.
    Thanks, George.


    • Angelo (admin) says:

      What season of the year are you in?


      • George says:

        We are in Brisbane, Australia, so we are currently at the beginning of summer


      • Angelo (admin) says:

        I’d say it’s the sudden cold overnight temperatures we’ve been experiencing this late in spring. Eggplants, like tomatoes, originate from warm climates and require warm overnight temperatures to grow well. Low overnight temperatures below 8 degree Celsius (46.4 degree Fahrenheit) can harm the plants.


  102. marcello says:

    ciao in base alla mia esperienza, questo succede quando c’è carenza idrica o il problema è Tetranychus urticae controlla sotto le foglie con una lente.


  103. Lucas says:

    I recently purchased a grafted eggplant from Bunnings in Melbourne. I have never seen this type of graft. They left the original eggplant as is and grew a strong rootstock next to it. They then chopped off the top of the rootstock and got one of the original leaves ( Stem ) and forced it into the rootstock. So the rootstock is feeding the original eggplant via a leaf stem. Interesting concept. It’s just the start of summer in Melbourne, Dec 26 and the planting is growing very well and has set about 6 eggplants already. Ready to harvest the first one in about a week i’d say.


    • Angelo (admin) says:

      Hi Lucas, they are commonly sold, it’s just an approach graft of one eggplant rootstock onto another, so two identical roots feed one plant.

      You can also buy tomatoes that have been approach grafted, but in this case they are always grafted onto a cherry tomato rootstock which is stronger and more vigorous than the root of a regular sized tomato.


  104. Andrew says:

    Is there a possibility of a photo of the approach graft?

    I have been trying this in WA and have just had some minor success. Not a great union so far but better than any of my other attempts.

    At this point I am happy that I have a callous on at least one side of the grafts.

    The idea of just a leaf as a graft seems good to me.


  105. Lucas says:

    Hi everyone. I found someone on ebay who is in Tasmania/Australia and they are selling Kangaroo Apple 15 seeds for $5 delivered. I have ordered some as I think the plants will cope well with the cooler climate here in Melbourne. I read they are native to the southern areas of Australia. I want to try grafting tomatoes, eggplants & capsicum onto them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeza says:

      I successfully grafted an eggplant to a Kangaroo Apple root stock this summer, so yes it is possible. You can find Kangaroo Apple growing natively around Melbourne it will grow from cutting and you can collect seed at this time of year. So no need to pay $5. Keep in mind that although native it is a potentially invasive colonising plant when introduced to new areas.


      • jeza says:

        Personally I’d be quite happy to get 4-6 years out of a an Eggplant/Aubergine plant. In the mean time you could make new cuttings off the rootstock and graft new offshoot as scions. If you did that every year or even every second year I think you’d have a pretty good crop renewal in place. The reason Kangaroo Apple plants die off is because they tend split at the base and they die off from rot/fungal infection. I’ve observed this on wild specimens that were in poor health/dying. So by taking cuttings you essentially creating a new plant that will live another 4-6 years. Perhaps this could even be bred out in the long term with selective propagation. I suspect there may even be some larger ones in the wild that are much older than 4-6 years and these ones may have better genetics than others.


      • Angelo (admin) says:

        The only problem with kangaroo apples is that they are only short-lived shrubs that last between 4-6 years, otherwise it’s a great choice.
        It is a fast growing plant that actually does produce edible fruit of its own, but they must be thoroughly ripe to eat because the unripe fruit is poisonous. An Australian government website says ‘Only eaten when outer skin bursts in summer, mealy, slightly acid taste’.

        Liked by 1 person

  106. atimberline says:

    thanks… much appreciated.


  107. atimberline says:

    …we have various wild ‘eggplant’ relatives here and thru the southwest in U.S. that will grow to 4-5 feet tall with similar flowers but plant is not same leaf and structure… they come back from root every year even after -20 F. … tops will take frost of a few degrees, esp. in the spring. …

    Liked by 1 person

  108. Lucas says:

    Hi Jeza & Angelo. Thanks for your responses. Angelo which rootstock do you suggest for a plant that will last longer than 5 years? Jeza I guess you don’t live anywhere near Sunshine hehe. Which part of Melbourne have you found the Kangaroo apple? Which technique did you use for grafting. I’m pretty bad at grafting but I’m just starting and hoping for the day when the scion takes. I have a rocoto chilli that I’m using at the moment to experiment with grafting. I found this video on youtube I know its 40 minutes but its got so much info about grafting. Have a look.


  109. marcello says:

    Solanum mauritianum


  110. Lucas says:

    Thanks Marcello for providing us with a very inspirational video. That guy has great vision. I’m starting my rootstocks ( Rocotto chilli & Kangaroo apple ) indoors 5 months before spring. Let’s see how I go. It can be difficult to obtain seeds for the wild tobacco so I will just make do with what I have for now.


  111. marcello says:

    ciao lucas, non so se hai visto le discussioni precedenti, ho lasciato l’indirizzo del forum dove ho pubblicato molti innesti di melanzane. a breve metterò nuove foto di innesti su alti potrainnesti anche quelli di peperone su rocoto.


  112. marcello says:

    l’innesto su kangaroo apple non da una grande vigoria, come il chrysotrichum mi sa che quest’anno quello che darà ottimi risultati e il solanum macranthum


  113. atimberline says:

    where can I get a sample of this Solanum mauritianum, or tree tobacco? …been looking everywhere… and no birds are dropping seed anywhere within a thousand miles of this place, that I know of.
    I will be happy to send up to 20$ to the ones who can get me some viable seed in the next month or so. …want it for some rootstock comparison trials. …send viable seed and I will send $ to you.
    This is legitimate research. Thanks. …good to contact me first.

    Tim Peters
    Peters Seed and Research
    1700 W. Mayfield Rd
    Arlington TX 76015


  114. marcello says:

    ciao atimberline, prima dovresti vedere se nel tuo paese è concesso entrare semi di piante invasive. io posso fornirti semi di chrysotrichum e fra qualche settimana mi dovrebbero regalare quelli di mauritianum.


  115. Lucas says:

    Hi atimberline. I wouldn’t wait for a source of Solanum mauritianum to come about. It will come if you keep looking. In the meantime I’d use chilli rocoto as a rootstock as I think it’s freely available in the USA.


  116. marcello says:

    ciao lucas, se vuole innestare melanzane su rocoto non ha senso, io lo sto usando per il peperone, per vedere la resistenza al freddo anche se in sicilia il clima in inverno e mite. io consiglio il chrisotrychum o il macranthum ho comprato i semi in florida.


  117. d.s.sureshkumar says:

    I am doing lot of experiments on grafting.
    Height of root stock
    Age of scion
    Standing devil plant
    Rooting devil plant cutting
    Devil plant devil plant grafting etc…
    Last one is new technique


    • Lobo says:

      Sureshkumar, are you living in Australia? Do you have seed or plant (Devils Apple) I need a root stock for my eggplant grafting.


  118. david says:

    I’m wondering if the image above is actually Solanum chrysotrichum, a declared noxious weed (at least in the Tweed Shire). I think this is what Solanum capsicoides looks like –


    • Angelo (admin) says:

      Hi David, please read previous comments, I believe we all came to the conclusion that the plant in question was actually Giant devil’s fig (Solanum chrysotrichum), formerly known as S. hispidum. From the Queensland Government Biosecurity site we see that this plant is “…Native to Mexico and Central America (i.e. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama). Naturalised Distribution – A relatively naturalised species that is mainly found in the coastal districts of eastern Australia (i.e. in south-eastern Queensland and the coastal districts of northern and central New South Wales). It is also sparingly naturalised in Victoria. Also naturalised overseas in Africa.”

      To correct your facts (same Australian government source as previous reference) –
      “Impacts- Giant devil’s fig (Solanum chrysotrichum) is regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland and New South Wales.”

      “Legislation – Not declared or considered noxious by any state government authorities.”

      Also see previous comments with reference to Qld Dept of Agriculture article describing the use of this and two other solanum plants as a grafting rootstock in a primary production setting, this plant is a valuable agricultural resource!


  119. Lobo says:

    Hi David, Do you have seeds of Solanum Capsicoides (Devils apple). And do you stay in Australia? I need it for a rootstock for my eggplants.


  120. dstack says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading this article and the comments. I’m in South Florida, and I managed to get seeds for Turkey Berry (Solanum torvum), and I’ve got several growing and had success using an eggplant similar to Black Beauty, called Florida Market. I used the veneer graft technique. I’ve had several failed attempts with the Rosa Bianca eggplant, so there may be a compatibility issue there.

    I would love to hear what other varieties people have had success with. I want to try an Asian variety called Ping Tung next but need to buy the seeds.


  121. marcello says:

    ciao,melanzane su torvum sono tutte compatibili, devi innestare a corona. dalle mie parti si possono fare iniziando da aprile per tutto il periodo estivo, con il torvum non puoi creare un alberello impiega molto tempo se vuoi piu risposte. ho creato un post dove si parla di diverse piante da poter usare, le migliori al momento sono il chrysotrichum e il mauritianum


  122. Jo says:

    where can I get the devil plant to start with


  123. Neil says:

    Do you happen to know if Solanum Glasnevin is a viable rootstock?

    I am here in NZ and most of the Solanums mentioned above are not allowed here.

    Thank you very much.


    • Angelo (admin) says:

      Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ is also known as potato vine or Chilean nightshade is an ornamental vine and is unsuitable for grafting edibles onto.

      Solanum aviculare, called Poroporo in New Zealand and Kangaroo Apple in Australia will work as a rootstock for grafting eggplants, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding this in NZ, as it’s a native plant.


      • Neil says:

        Thank you for the reply Angelo. Got my Poroporo seeds now and will start planting.

        Another question, is there an ideal height/age for the rootstock? Like do we have to wait until the Solanum rootstock be at least half a meter tall?

        Have you also tried doing it when both scion and rootstock are still seedlings?

        Thank you very much.


      • Angelo (admin) says:

        When both rootstock and scion are about the thickness of a pencil or thicker is a good time to graft.

        Liked by 1 person

      • neilmaranan says:

        Thank you again for your help


  124. Dr Clarence says:

    After reading your articles i am wary of attempting to graft eggplants to similar members of of solanaceae family
    A bit afraid of ing fruits of the graft in case it may be toxic as some toxic night shade family members
    Are the egg plants produced as a result of the graft with the Devil’s apple edible
    There are other plants that are almost identical to the devil apple but I would rather as advised by you
    Do you b any chance have seeeds of the devil’s apple
    thank you


    • Angelo (admin) says:

      Hi Dr Clarence,
      I would NOT, under any circumstances, graft eggplants to any random unidentified member of the Solanaceae family of plants.
      I have mentioned the safe Solanaceae family plants to graft to, please stick to those only!

      As an international free information resource, we only provide information to the world, not seeds!


  125. Rob says:

    Am trying your technique with tomatoes grafted onto kangaroo apple (tube stock). 4 weeks in, so far so good!!! All three grafts have taken and are growing strongly! Am excited to see how they will progress!


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