Ardisia - Coral Berry, Marlberry
DESCRIPTION: This is a large group of tender, evergreen shrubs and trees. A. crispa has small, dark green, shiny leaves and pinkish-white flowers in the spring. Small plants look lovely in pots when covered with their scarlet berries in the fall. The flowers and berries last a long time, so it's common to see flowers and green and ripe berries at the same time. This plant forms a bush about 4 feet high. It can be grown in a greenhouse that has a minimum winter temperature of 50 degrees, or as a houseplant, or outdoors in the far South. A. paniculata, the Marlberry, is a native of southern Florida and the West Indies. It is a small tree or shrub having small white flowers and shiny black berries. A. humilis also has black berries.
POTTING: Repotting should be done in February or March. Remove a little of the old soil and set them into slightly larger pots filled with peat, loam, and leaf mold in equal parts. The soil should be kept fairly moist in the winter and liberally watered from spring through autumn. Established plants will benefit from weekly applications of dilute liquid fertilizer. Little pruning is required as it is best to grow potted plants with one central stem. When they're grown outside, it's necessary to prune and shape them.
PROPAGATION: Cuttings produce the best plants. Side shoots can be removed with a "heel" of bark attached, or a piece of the old branch can be removed in spring and planted in sand, sand and peat moss, or vermiculite in a propagating case or under a bell jar in a warm greenhouse. Seeds may also be sown in the summer or spring in similar compost. It takes 18 months to become fruiting plants from seeds.
VARIETIES: A. japonica, is an attractive shrub up to 1½ feet tall and well suited for use in rock gardens. A. paniculata; A. humilis; A. crispa (A. crenata, A. crenulata).
Back to our botanical home page.