Nicandra physalodes | Shoofly Plant ‘Splash of Cream’
Shoofly Plant, also called Apple of Peru and Snake Tomato, was once a well-known garden annual, but is not so common nowadays. The exact origin of the Shoofly Plant is not fully known, but it is believed to be native to the Andean Cordillera in South America, possibly Peru.
‘Splash of Cream’ plants are a bit smaller than the regular species, growing to just 3 to 4 feet tall. Plants have black stems with leaves that are an unusual variegation of light green and cream, making the plant attractive for its foliage in addition to its lovely lavender-blue cup-shaped flowers, which bloom from June/July through September/October. The musky odor of the flower is said to repel whiteflies and sometimes other insects, hence the name shoofly plant, however that trait is certainly overstated, as whiteflies do call the plant home on occasion. After flowering, a green and purple burnished, papery balloon-like seed pod forms (similar to Chinese Lantern plant), and can be dried and used in floral arrangements.
It’s hard to believe that such a large plant can grow so fast in a matter of months, but Shoofly plants do indeed start life over again each spring from seed. The best time to sow Shoofly Plants is in the fall because the seeds germinate best after experiencing cold temperatures. One can also sow seeds in early spring while the soil is still cool. For an extra-large plant, start the seeds indoors inside 4–6 weeks before the last frost date. Do not cover the tiny seeds with soil as they need light to germinate. They can re-seed prolifically, but the seedlings are easy to pull out.
Grows best in sun to part shade in well-drained soil of just about any quality, but the better the soil the bigger the plant. Makes a fantastic container plant too!
Sun exposure: Full sun to part shade
Mature height: 3-5 ft
Mature width: 2-3 ft
Hardiness zones: 3-8