BLOOMS FOR THE SUMMER AND BERRIES AT CHRISTMAS
The Coral berry plant is also known as the Christmas berry because it produces bright red berries which last well past Xmas time.
What makes this a great plant is how it flowers during summer and then produces berries, making it a lively and attractive shrub. It’s a slow grower and fairly easy to grow, with the right attention and care.
The coral berry is a shrub that grows with a single stem or possibly multiple stems – displaying branches of leathery oval-shaped leaves, which can be grown outdoors or indoors with the correct conditions.
Note for outdoor growers: Outdoors they are an invasive species (in the US south-east) and a pain for some growers because of how easily seedlings spread, the rate of success they germinate, and how they affect the understory of other plant species (more about the invasive side effects of the plant here if your planning to grow outdoors). In Florida, it has become a bit of a pest.
Right, back to growing indoors….
Flowering: This plant produces small clusters of white or very pale pink flowers which bloom from late spring to early summer. Once the flowers have bloomed they’re followed by clusters of red berries, which last for a fair few months. The flowers and berries appear within the midsection of the tree.
Foliage: As mentioned above the leaves grow on branches and form a single stem usually, although multiple stem plants can also grow. The glossy dark green serrated leaves which are oval shaped, grow to approximately 3 – 5 inches long and a couple of inches wide. Overall, the coral berry tree looks attractive with or without flowers and berries, especially if it’s pruned well.
Poisonous: I have found no supporting evidence that proves this plant is poisonous. However, its suggested by many that it is toxic to humans, livestock, and pets. I’m sure the leaves are to large for cats and dogs to even try consuming.
Displaying: The coral is a fine-looking species that looks great in a prominent position that will be noticed by yourself and visitors. Obviously, the conditions (light, temperature, etc.) need to be right. Also, great looking in a conservatory or hallway and grow well in greenhouses (although not seen much here).
Pruning: I would advise growers to prune the ardisia crenata during spring before the flowers begin budding. This will keep the tree at a reasonable size and allow the foliage to become a nice rounded full shape.
|Names:||Coral berry, christmas berry, coral ardisia (common). Ardisia crenata (botanical/scientific).|
|Max Growth (approx):||Height 3ft, width 2ft.|
|Poisonous for pets:||Not known.|
Thick Leathery Leaves
Coral Berry Plant Care
|Temperature:||Average warmth is fine of approximately 60-75°F (15-24°C) and no lower than 45°F (8°C).|
|Light:||A lover of bright light, not direct sunlight (or at least not much).|
|Watering:||Water when the soil begins losing its moisture to the touch, and naturally, reduce watering during winter.|
|Soil:||Feed with a balanced fertilizer once a month from spring – to fall and then maybe once every other month after.|
|Fertilizer:||Water when the soil begins losing it’s moisture to the touch, and naturally, reduce watering during winter.|
|Re-Potting:||Re-pot only when needed (spring). When it becomes pot bound move the plant to a pot the next size up.|
|Humidity:||Average house humidity is advised. Misting leaves will improve humidity during the summer months.|
|Propagation:||This plant can be propagated by seeds (early spring) or stem cuttings (during spring a summer).|
|Common Problems:||Plants that are too hot will refuse to produce berries, even after producing flowers. Exposure to excessive sunlight will cause the leaves to burn and the berries to shrivel.|
The coral berry “as you can see” – is easy enough for most indoor growers to add to their house plant collection and well worth the effort of providing them with care and attention.
Elyssa Goins is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mom of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has been published in a Scientific Journal, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.