Nicandra

Nicandra flowers

A vigorous hardy annual with unusual flowers and fruits. Nicandra is reputed to repel flies, hence its common name Shoo-fly.

Family: Solanaceae (potato family)
Botanical Name: Nicandra
Common Names: Shoo-fly plant, apple of Peru.

Foliage: Large, deeply toothed, wavy edged, mid-green leaves.

Flowers: Short-lived, bell-shaped flowers, in pale lavender and white. Followed by round berries, enclosed in lantern-shaped green or purple calyces (papery Chinese lanterns).

Flowering Period: July to September.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, moderately fertile soil (chalk, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun, will tollerate some shade. Plant in a east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Hardy Annual.

Origin: Peru

Hardiness: Hardy throughout the UK (usually dies back after flowering at the end of the season).

Planting and Growing Nicandra

Grow in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil, in full sun or partial shade.

Requires a warm sunny site to flower well.

Suitable as a specimen plant or grown as group in the border. Can be dried for flower arranging for winter decoration.

Taking Care of Nicandra

Stake in exposed positions. Keep well-watered in dry weather.

To preserve: cut fully developed fruiting branches for drying on a warm, bright day.

Pruning

Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period. No pruning necessary.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free.

Propagating Nicandra

Direct sow in open prepared ground in late spring, or sow in trays of seed compost in April. Thin to 18in (45cm). Alternatively, sow a month earlier in greenhouse or propagator at 15°C (59°F). Pot on and harden off before planting out in May.

Often self-seeds freely once established.

Popular Varieties of Nicandra

A monotypic Genus containing only one species N. physalodes. A rare find in the garden centre, however it is often used in commercial bird-seed mixtures, so you may find it growing under the bird feeder.

Nicandra physalodes a strong-growing annual with attractive light purple flowers, followed by bladder-like fruits (calyces). Height 2-3ft (60-90cm), spread up to 2ft (60cm). Available at Chiltern seeds.