Move over Poinsettia! This attractive understory shrub has something new to bring to your New Year's table...
Most often, you will find Coralberry (Ardisia crenata) growing as a single-stemmed plant topped with an arbor of dense, glossy leaves. Though they can grow much larger in the ground, potted Ardisia rarely climb over three feet tall -- but they still pack a punch. These flowers are paired with bright red fruits that hang in clusters below the glossy leaves. Best of all, the ripe fruits are held on the plant for several months, keeping the color throughout the holiday season.
Flickr photo by Tamago Moffle
Ardisia is to be kept potted and brought indoors in most climates. It is native to SE Asia, and in warmer regions (namely the Gulf Coast) it can be kept outdoors year-round. If it is outside, please take caution to prevent seed dispersal, which can be spread by birds and other small animals. Coralberry can be highly invasive in coastal forests. Once introduced as an ornamental plant, heavily-seeded Ardisia quickly spread and push out native plants. Interestingly enough though, it is naturally more prolific as the seedlings will remain stunted under the shade of their parent, and then rapidly mature once the bigger plant is removed. Understandably, managing Ardisia has proven difficult in these locations, though it will still make a great indoor-only houseplant.
Potted, your Ardisia will enjoy bright shade if taken outdoors for the warmer months. Even once it's flowered, the glossy leaves make for an attractive foliage plant. Keep it evenly watered and mist regularly to maintain humidity. Flower buds are set in the spring, at which point it is essential to keep the plant away from cool drafts of any kind, as this will cause the buds to fail. White or slightly pink, flowers are also subtly aromatic - just a notion of the colorful display to follow. By the end of the season, you should be able to enjoy another fabulous show of red fruit. And ardisia make great tabletop plants, as the flowers and thus fruits are grown only on the lowers branches. Yet another option for your holiday display.
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