Solanum Capsicastrum

Winter Cherry
"Flowers for Summer and Berries at Christmas"

The winter cherry plant (Solanum Capsicastrum) is a flowering plant that flowers during summer followed by berries.

Also known as the Jerusalem cherry and solanum pseudocapsicum, you will find it's a popular ornamental plant to buy at Christmas time, sold in many stores.


There's only a small amount species from the Solanum genus, which have slight differences. For this article I will name the winter cherry as the S. capsicastrum and the Jerusalem cherry as the S. pseudocapsicum (some name them the other way around, which does not matter).

The main differences between these perennial shrubs is the capsicastrum has smoother stems, shorter leaves, and slightly brighter colored larger berries. There are also varieties such as the variegated (cream and green foliage) and dwarf types (grow up to 1ft tall).

Flowering and berries: Very white or whitish small star shaped flowers bloom during summer, followed by berries that look just like small tomatoes. In fact they may even taste similar to tomatoes, but they're toxic when eaten.

Berries begin green in color, then turn yellowish, orange and red, and are the main attraction rather than the tiny flowers. Flowers last until just before winter and the berries can last for months after the festive holiday period (if they reside in a cool setting).

Foliage: The dark green leaves (with waved edges) only grow to approximatively 2 inches long. Most of the stems grow in an upwards fashion with fine hairs along the outer edge.

green leaves

Poisonous: The berries can be toxic to dogs, cats and other animals. These are also poisonous for humans and it's advisable to keep well out of reach of children.

Provide time outdoors: Because this plant enjoys bright light and fairly low temperatures you can allow it to sit outside during the summer, with the correct temperatures (see temperature and light guide below).


Origin: Peru and Ecuador.
Names: Winter cherry (common). Solanum capsicastrum (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Height 24 in (60 cm).
Poisonous for pets: Toxic to cats and dogs.
Picture of the winter berry Close up picture of plant

Winter Cherry Care

Temperature: The winter cherry prefers cool temperatures of approximately 60-70°F (15-21°C) and 50-60°F (10-15°C) during winter. Avoid placing the plant near cold drafts.
Light: A lover of bright light, and some direct sunlight (not too much). Placed near a window that receives day time sun is advised.
Watering: Keep the soil moist to touch and water once the soil feels very slightly dry. At the end of winter until the start of spring allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering.
Soil: Most well draining soil-less potting mixes will suffice.
Re-Potting: Re-pot at the end of winter and prune the plant.
Fertilizer: Feed with a balanced fertilizer once a month until the berries have fell. Allow some time for rest (late winter – spring) without fertilizer and begin fertilizing again when new flower buds appear.
Humidity: Average indoor humidity is fine at the temperatures stated above. To improve mist the leaves frequently.
Propagation: The solanum capsicastrum can be propagated by seeds (early spring) or stem cuttings taken (late winter).
Pruning: Prune stems back to approximately half their length, late winter. This will allow new growth and keep the plant well trimmed for the next growing season.

More suitable plants grown indoors for Christmas can be found here »

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