I have been trying to transform a previously ornamental garden into a productive but still attractive one. I've used citrus and guavas for hedging, lemongrass for borders etc. One final niche I'm looking to fill is an attractive shade tolerant shrub to fill in some small beds around the base of a larger tree. This is currently occupied by agapanthus. My climate is temperate (I am in Sydney, close enough to the coast to not get frost).

I am considering replacing the agapanthus with Naranjilla (Solanum quitonense), a perennial shrub of Andean origin I have been reading about. Can anyone offer any advice about growing these and whether they will cope in my climate? Can they be kept to a maximum height of around 1 metre and still give a good crop? Does anyone have an alternative suggestions for filling this shady niche with a suitably attractive edible plant?


Seems like a good choice because it does not like to be waterlogged, and where you want to plant it will be dry (around the base of a larger tree). However, it seems they don't fruit very well, if at all, in temperate climes, preferring semi tropical conditions, so it's a risk if you do try it. It won't tolerate temperatures lower than 7 deg C - anything lower will kill it. I don't know how low your temperatures can get in winter, but anything approaching 7 deg C or below is likely to cut down some of the topgrowth, so keeping it small may well not be a problem.

The only other thing I can think of is Chaenomeles japonica, a form of quince often used as hedging which is extremely shade tolerant, fruiting regardless. The only drawback is, although I have seen it grown as a free standing plant, it does looks better against a wall or fence. It responds well to pruning though. Rather depends whether you like the idea of making quince jelly too.

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