What makes Christmas berry a great plant is how it flowers during summer and then produces the berries, making it a lively and attractive shrub. It’s a slow grower and fairly easy to grow, with the right attention and care.
Christmas Berry Description
The Christmas 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 easy seedlings spread, the rate of success they germinate and how they affect the understory of other plant species. In Florida it has become a bit of a pest.
Right, back to growing indoors….
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 mid section of the tree.
As mentioned above the leaves grow on branches 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 Christmas berry tree looks attractive with or without flowers and berries, especially if it’s pruned well.
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.
The Christmas berry is a fine looking species which looks great in a prominent position that will be noticed by your self and visitors. Obviously, the conditions (light, temperature etc.) need to be right. Also, great looking in a conservatory or hall way and grow well in greenhouses (although not seen much here).
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.
Christmas 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 it’s moisture to the touch, and naturally reduce watering during winter.
- Soil: Most well draining potting mixes will suffice.
- Fertilizer: Feed with a balanced fertilizer once a month from spring – fall and then maybe once every other month after.
- 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 Christmas 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.
- Origin: East Asia.
- Names: Christmas berry, Coral berry, coral ardisia (common). Ardisia crenata (botanical/scientific).
- Max Growth (approx): Height 3ft, width 2ft.
- Poisonous for pets: Not known.