Ardisia: Greenhouse Plants
W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)
Ardisia crispa (A. crenata), the Coralberry, is the one mostly grown. Although even this is not very often seen in collections, it is well worth growing and frequently seen in garden centres. Growth tends to be rather slow but the foliage is attractive. They are grown not so much for their small creamy-pink flowers but for the bright red berries that follow. These remain on the plant for months so that a mature plant is rarely without them. They are not fussy plants but will drop leaves and berries if temperatures fluctuate wildly. If necessary a constant lower temperature would be preferable. Leaves sometimes go very yellow if feeding is neglected and the plant has been in the samefor a long time.
Propagation can be by seed and none is better than that collected off one’s own plants and sown fresh. It is, however, a very slow process. A good idea is to chit the seeds by placing them with a compost of three parts peat to one part grit in a plastic bag. This should be kept moist and left in a temperature of 24°C (75°F) for two months after which it can be sown normally. Keep an eye on the seed in case it should begin to germinate sooner, in which case, sow it immediately.
After germination it is best to lower the temperature of theto 18°C (65°F). Cuttings can be made of side shoots with heels which will root in six to eight weeks. Sometimes an old plant will become very leggy as lower leaves are lost through age. Cut back to within 5-8 cm (2-3 in) of the base in late spring, give it plenty of light, water carefully and it will sprout new shoots. If too many are produced remove unwanted ones at an early stage to allow a well-shaped plant to develop. Seed of other species, particularly A. humilis, is sometimes available. Germination is quicker and the plant larger, faster growing and grown more for its foliage. Shoot tips are a pleasing fresh pink. However, the berries, which are shy of developing, are dull red and then black.