Botanical Name: Ardisia crenata
Clusters of petite flowers followed by bright berries make Coral Berry a delightful house plant.
This evergreen shrub can grow up to 6 ft in its native tropical habitat, but indoors you can expect it to reach about half that height. It's slow-growing, so it'll take a while to get there.
Glossy, deep-green leaves grow to 4 in (10 cm) long and about half as wide. Their serrated edges add to the beauty of this plant.
Tiny white or pale pink flowers grow from the leaf axils on the plant's lower branches in summer. Those slightly aromatic blooms are followed by 1/4-in (6 mm) round berries.
Red berries are the real attraction of Ardisia crenata and arrive around Christmas time. You'll enjoy the berries on this shrub until it starts flowering again.
Got a reluctant bloomer? Give your plant more humidity and sunlight in spring, when it's starting to form buds. Regular misting with room-temperature water will help increase the moisture in the air around it. Misting also helps to keep away spider mites that prefer dry conditions.
Dropping flower buds are caused by drafty or cold air. Coral Berry likes it cool, but not too cold. It will tolerate a minimum winter temperature of 45°F/7°C.
Prune it back to keep this shrub compact. Pruning each spring before flowering will keep it in shape.
Repot when the roots have filled the pot, moving up to a pot 1 size larger. Wait till late winter to repot -- never while it's blooming.
Photo credit Forest and Kim Starr
Origin: Southeast Asia
Height: Up to 3 ft (90 cm)
Light: Bright light with some direct sunlight
Water: Keep the soil evenly moist year-round. Never allow it to dry out.
Humidity: Moderate -- about 50-60% relative humidity. Stand the pot on a dish of wet pebbles to boost humidity.
Temperature: Cool to average room temperatures 45-65°F/7-18°C.
Soil: Any good potting mix
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks from early spring through summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half. In fall and winter, feed monthly.
Propagation: Sow seeds in spring. Or take 4-6 in (10-15 cm) stem tip cuttings in spring and place upright in moist peat moss-based potting mix. Cover the plant and pot in a plastic bag to hold in humidity. Propagating this plant is hit-or-miss. Neither method is easy.
These tropical shrubs do best with moderate-to-high humidity. Check out these tips for raising humidity for house plants.
This decorative shrub isn't easy to find. Few greenhouses stock Coral Berry plant because it is slow-growing.
A few other shrubs also go by the same common name. Look for Ardisia crenata to be sure you're getting this plant.