Growing Naranjilla From Cuttings – How To Root Naranjilla Cuttings

Growing Naranjilla From Cuttings – How To Root Naranjilla Cuttings

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Native to the warm climates of South America, naranjilla,“little oranges,” are thorny shrubs that produce exotic blooms and ratherodd-looking, golf-ball sized fruit with a very distinctive flavor. Can you grownaranjilla from cuttings? Yes, you sure can, and it’s not all that difficult.Let’s learn about naranjilla cutting propagation and growing naranjilla fromcuttings.

How to Root Naranjilla Cuttings

Taking cuttings of a naranjilla is easy. Late spring andearly summer are the best times for growing naranjilla from cuttings.

Fill a 1-gallon (3.5 l.) pot with a well-drained pottingmixture such as half peat and half perlite, vermiculite or coarse sand. Be surethe pot has a drainage hole. Water the mixture thoroughly and set the pot asideto drain until the potting mix is evenly moist but not sopping wet.

Take several 4- to 6-inch cuttings (10-15 cm.) from ahealthy naranjilla tree. Use a sharp, sterile knife or pruners to take thecuttings from the tip of a young, healthy branch.

Cut the ends of the stems at a 45-degree angle. Pull theleaves from the bottom half of the cuttings, exposing the nodes. (Each cuttingshould have two or three nodes.) Make sure there are two to three leavesremaining at the top of the stem.

Dip the lower stem, including the nodes, in rootinghormone. Use a pencil to poke holes in the potting mix, then insertthe cuttings into the holes. You can plant up to a dozen cuttings in the pot,but space them evenly so the leaves aren’t touching.

Cover the pot with clear plastic. Prop up the plastic withstraws or dowels so it doesn’t rest on the leaves. Place the pot in bright,indirect light. Avoid sunny windowsills, as direct sunlight may scorch thecuttings. The room should be warm – between 65 and 75 F. (18-21 C.). If theroom is cool, set the pot on a heat mat.

Caring for Cuttings of a Naranjilla

Check the cuttings regularly and water as necessary to keepthe potting mix moist.

Remove the plastic as soon as the cuttings are rooted,generally indicated by the appearance of new growth, generally after six toeight weeks.

Plant the rooted cuttings in individual pots. Place the potsoutdoors in a sheltered location where the young plants are exposed to indirectsunlight. Temperatures should be consistently above 60 F. (16 C.).

Water the young tree every other week, using a very dilutesolution of a general purpose fertilizer.

Transplant the cuttings into larger pots when the roots arewell established. Allow the young naranjilla tree to develop for at least ayear before moving it to a permanent location or continue growing the plant ina pot.

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Read more about Naranjillas

Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Published: 2015-07-23
From: ECHO Development Notes (EDN) | EDN Issue #128
From: ECHO Development Notes (EDN) | EDN Issue #128

Figure 1: Foliage and fruit of a naranjilla (Solanum quitoense ‘Julio Rivera’) plant transplanted on 14 August 2014 into the rainforest section of the ECHO Farm in southwest Florida. Photos taken on 2 July 2015 by Tim Motis.


Naranjilla (pronounced na-ran-hee-ya) means ‘little orange’ in Spanish, but it is not a citrus crop. It is actually a relative of tomato, eggplant and pepper, being a member of the Solanaceae (also known as ‘nightshade’) family. Grown for its yellow to orange fruits (Fig. 1), it has been described as “the golden fruit of the Andes.” Naranjilla is high in vitamin C (31-84 mg of ascorbic acid/100 g of fresh fruit) and makes excellent juice with a unique and delicious tropical flavor that tastes like a blend of pineapple and lemon. It is also used in ice cream, sherbets, jellies and jams.

Though protected by a covering of brown hairs, naranjilla fruit can be eaten raw by rubbing off the hairs (easily done with ripe fruit), cutting the fruit in half and then squeezing the juice—along with the edible pulp and seeds—into the mouth. Inside, green and yellow sections of flesh are partitioned by thin membranous walls. The fruits reach about 5 cm in diameter and are borne in clusters on perennial shrubs reaching up to 2.4 m (8 ft) in height. Depending on the variety, the large purple leaves can be spiny (wild types) or spineless (cultivated types). The stems become somewhat woody as the plants mature.

Where does it grow best?

Originating from northern portions of South America, naranjilla prefers cooler areas of the tropics and is a good crop to consider for higher elevations (900-2400 m [3000-7900 ft]). It grows best with temperatures below 30°C (86°F) and is intolerant of frost. Naranjilla grows under full sun but may benefit from partial shade, especially at lower altitudes where temperatures can rise above 30°C. The plant shown in figure 1 is growing near sea-level, on ECHO’s Global Demonstration Farm, with sunlight filtered through the canopy of surrounding trees.

Naranjilla prefers fertile, moist, and well-drained soil. The plants do not tolerate flooded conditions. Annual rainfall of 1500 mm (60 in), distributed evenly throughout the year, is optimal.

How is it grown?

Although it can be grown from cuttings, naranjilla is propagated most commonly by seeds. Seeds collected from mature fruit can be processed similarly as one would for eggplant. In Latin America, naranjilla seeds are allowed to ferment in the shade, after which they are washed with water (to remove the pulp from around the seeds) and air dried. At ECHO’s seed bank in Florida, the seeds are simply rinsed and then air dried.

At planting time, the seeds are sown in a shaded nursery area, either on a raised bed or in plastic bags. When the seedlings reach 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) in height, two to three months after sowing, they are transplanted into planting holes dug 30 cm wide X 30 cm deep (12 X 12 in) and enriched with liberal amounts (up to 4 kg [8.8 lbs]) of organic compost. Dig planting holes about 2 m (7 ft) apart, within and between rows, to give the shrubs plenty of growing space. Naranjilla is a heavy feeder and will grow most rapidly if supplied with monthly applications of NPK fertilizer or manure tea. Water the plants during dry periods.

What are some pests to watch for?

Rootknot nematode (Meloidogyne sp.) is the main pest of naranjilla. Damaged roots result in stunted and chlorotic (nutrient deficient) plants that may only produce fruit for one year. Naranjilla can be grafted onto rootstock of other closely-related, nematode-resistant species (e.g., Solanum macranthum rootstock has succeeded in Florida S. torvum in parts of Africa). For household plants, a more practical option for avoiding nematodes is to grow a few plants in containers filled with nematode-free soil or other clean planting media large containers are best considering the size of the plants and their high demand for moisture. Other pests include scale on the fruits and stem rots caused by bacteria. Wild forms, though spiny, are said to be more tolerant of pests and diseases than domesticated varieties.

How long does it take to produce fruit?

Fruiting begins 10 to 12 months after seed sowing, continuing for as long as three or four years before the plants begin to decline. In Florida, fruit production continues for two years before the plants are replaced. A healthy plant produces 100 to 150 fruits each year. Harvest the fruits every seven to 10 days.

How are the fruits harvested?

When picking the fruits, protect hands from the sharp, fuzzy hairs by using gloves or cloth. This is particularly important for people with sensitive skin. For household consumption of fresh fruit, pick the fruits when they are fully ripe, at which time the fruit will be a dark orange color and the hairy fuzz can easily be rubbed off on the ground (in the grass) or with a cloth. Fully ripe fruits soften quickly and are susceptible to bruising and discoloration, which makes it difficult to ship them long distances. By harvesting and cleaning before they are fully ripe, the fruits can be stored for up to eight days without refrigeration.

Does ECHO have seeds?

ECHO’s seed bank currently carries two naranjilla varieties, one an unnamed variety and the other a variety from Puerto Rico called ‘Julio Rivera’ that has relatively spineless leaves. Members of ECHO’s network who are active development workers may request a complementary, sample packet of seed. If you have not already done so and would like to, please see for information on how to register and receive seeds. If you obtain seed from ECHO, be sure to fill out a seed harvest report, which will give us a more accurate idea of how well this crop performs under varying conditions.


Morton J. 1987. “Naranjilla.” In: Fruits of warm climates, edited by Curtis F. Dowling, Jr., 425-528. Julia F. Morton. URL: [NOTE: this reference contains more detailed information on the nutritional properties of naranjilla fruit]

National Research Council. 1989. In: Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation, 267. National Academy of Sciences. URL:

Tindall, H.D. 1983. In: Vegetables in the Tropics, 371-372. The MacMillan Press Ltd.

Cite as:

ECHO Staff 2015. Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense). ECHO Development Notes no. 128

Naranjilla Cutting Propagation: Can You Grow Naranjilla From Cuttings - garden

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This is an interesting plant with its red-veined leaves and murderous looking spines on both leaves and stems. The large thorns grow out from stems, branches, and leaves. The spines are quite harmless however, and cause no problem as they cannot leave the plant. The pink buds open into white flowers which are followed by golf-ball size seed pods with a fuzzy coating. It requires a long growing season, if the fruit is to mature in zone 5a - start the seeds early. This small perennial shrub cultivated in uplands of South America for its edible bright orange fruits resembling tomatoes or oranges. Bright orange fruit about the size of a large cherry tomato. Fruits are covered with numerous fuzzy hairs that rub off when ripe. Pulp is yellow to greenish, sweet-and-sour and of excellent flavor. Eaten fresh, but most commonly used to make drinks. Is also used in preserves and desserts. The naranjilla is subtropical and enjoys slightly cooler than tropical temperatures. Naranjilla's like frequent watering and can stand brief temperature drops below freezing. It is easily container grown, and is often done so in areas with nematode problems as it is susceptible to root nematodes. The naranjilla is thought the be a short day plant, and may only set fruit when there are 8-10 daylight hours. Propagation: By seed and root cuttings.

Growing Petunias from cuttings

Hello, I saved some of my potted petunias this fall and they are sitting in the garage. They are of the spreading variety, a raspberry swirl and one that is almost a black color. I've tried twice now to take some cuttings and root them and I don't seem to be doing very well.

The first attempt was to root them in water and that failed miserably as they simply died in the water. I did use TakeRoot on them on that occasion. The second attempt was to simply cut them and put them into pots with miracle grow potting mix in them. I watered them well and have been spritzing their leaves ever day but have not watered them any further because the soil has been damp. The are sitting on a shelf on a south facing window. They also look to be failing as well.

I still have enough plant left to take cuttings, but probably only for one more go around so this is my last chance. I'm thinking about changing to using the starter mix that I use for seeds March, instead of the potting soil but I'm not sure.

It seems like they're not a great candidate to root in water from what I read so the only thing I can think of is that my soil medium isn't right?

If anyone has any advice I'd be grateful. I've got some million bell and verbena cuttings that I took yesterday and are sitting in water ready to be potted as well and I'd like to figure out what I might be doing wrong.

My coleus and geraniums rooted very well in water and made the transition over to miracle grow potting soil but I would guess each type of annual has it's own preferences.

Watch the video: Why Do Cuttings Fail? Propagation Tips