The coral tree, as the exotic plant is often called, is a real late bloomer, because the white flowers only appear towards the end of summer. At the same time, the round, orange-colored and unfortunately poisonous berries emerge, which gave the plant the names Coral Cherry and Jerusalem Cherry. As their origin suggests, the coral trees with the botanical name Solanum pseudocapsicum are not hardy. In the bed, they are therefore cared for as annual shrubs. In the tub or as a houseplant, however, they are quite long-lived.

location

The coral shrub, up to 100 cm in size, belongs to the nightshade family and is accordingly in love with the sun, regardless of whether it is located as a houseplant, in a tub or in a bed:

  • Bright and sunny location.
  • Prefer a sheltered location.
  • Protect from drafts in indoor culture.
  • In the midday sun, it’s taxing.
  • Full sun is also tolerated with berries.

If you want to enjoy your coral tree for a long time, you can put it outside until early autumn after the ice saints, which has a beneficial effect on resistance and flowering. It is advisable to get the Solanum pseudocapsicum used to the sun step by step so that it does not cause sunburn.

maintenance

The successful care of the coral cherry is based on three pillars: sun, water, nutrients. As a result, sufficient attention should be paid to the following tips and hints:

  • Water abundantly.
  • Pour off excess water immediately.
  • Do not leave any water in the coaster.
  • Water less from November to March.
  • Regularly clean withered flowers.
  • Fertilize every 2 weeks from April to October.
  • Use liquid complete fertilizer in pot culture.
  • A coral bush in the bed receives organic fertilizer.
  • Do not fertilize during hibernation.

Conventional potting soil is completely sufficient as a substrate in the bucket. In the bed, the garden soil is loosened and ideally enriched with well-rotted garden compost and horn shavings. If the soil is too heavy, a few handfuls of sand will provide more permeability.

Overwinter

When the outside temperature is constantly around 10 ° Celsius, it is time to move the coral tree to its winter quarters. It should be light there and not colder than 8 ° Celsius. The disadvantage of such a location during the cold season is that the berries can only be enjoyed for a short time because they are thrown off without further ado. There is nothing wrong with letting the plant hibernate on the window sill in the living room as long as there are no children around. Since it is warmer in this place, the decorative berries stay on the bush longer and the chances are good that the dainty leaves will not be shed. During this time, experienced hobby gardeners place the pot in a saucer filled with stones and water so that the dry heating air does not damage the small shrub. Alternatively, leaves and berries are sprayed with rainwater at room temperature or decalcified tap water. The dosage of the irrigation water is measured depending on the climatic conditions during the winter. The Solanum pseudocapsicum only receives enough water that the root ball does not dry out. With the help of the thumb test, the need can be determined very easily.

Repot

After wintering, coral trees are repotted every spring:

  • The new pot is slightly larger than the previous one.
  • A drainage hole for excess irrigation water is essential.
  • Also take the coral bush out of the old pot.
  • Take a close look at the root ball.
  • Cut off dry, rotting roots with a sharp knife.
  • Sprinkle the cut with charcoal powder.
  • Lay drainage made of expanded clay or perlite over the drainage hole.
  • Spread a layer of potting soil and compost mixture over it.
  • Place the coral cherry in the middle.
  • Spread the rest of the potting soil around it.
  • Leave a pouring rim free so that nothing spills over.

As part of the repotting campaign, the Solanum pseudocapsicum receives a good supply of nutrients from the fresh substrate, so that it is fertilized again after 4 to 6 weeks at the earliest.

To cut

The annual pruning goes hand in hand with repotting. The shoots from the previous year are trimmed by 2/3. This measure requires a sharp cutting tool so that the branches are not crushed. In addition, cutting in direct sunlight must not be carried out under any circumstances, so that the fresh cuts do not dry out. If the hobby gardener strives for an exceptionally bushy growth, the young shoots are cropped in a second pass in late spring. If you then take the time to spray the coral tree once a day with water that is low in lime, you will be rewarded with increased berry growth.

Multiply

Those among gardening enthusiasts who are already the proud owners of a coral tree can easily multiply this gem. There are two different approaches to choose from:

Cuttings
The best possible time to cut the 10 to 15 cm long cuttings from the mother plant is in the summer, before the flowers appear. The shoots chosen should be strong and have at least two eyes. At the lower end, the knife is placed just under one eye and the cut is made at an angle. The tip of the shoot is cut off straight above one eye. Any leaves in the lower half are removed and the remaining ones cut in half. The gardener then places them in a glass of water, where they root within 2 to 3 weeks. Alternatively, the cuttings come straight into a 9 cm pot that is filled with potting soil and has a drainage slot for excess water. It makes sense to cover the cultivation vessel with a plastic bag, because on the one hand a warm and humid climate is created and on the other hand insects are prevented from laying their eggs in the substrate. In a bright, warm location that receives some sunshine in the morning and evening, the young plants will root through the pot within a short time if they are kept sufficiently moist. Then it is time to repot it in a larger vessel and from this point to care for it like an adult coral tree.

Sowing
The seeds are taken from a ripe berry and thoroughly cleaned of the pulp. After drying in an airy place, they are kept in a dark vessel until next spring. This is followed by sowing in a tray filled with growing substrate at a distance of 1 cm. Since these are dark germs, the seeds are lightly covered with soil. A plastic film or a lid is placed over it to cover it. If placed in a bright, warm place without direct sunlight, germination will start within 14 days. When the seedlings have reached a size of around 10 cm, they are given their first ration of liquid fertilizer. From a height of 15 cm they are pricked out and receive their own flower pot, which is filled with normal substrate.

Popular varieties

Thanks to the decorative fruits, the coral tree has been able to inspire more and more fans among hobby gardeners. The most beautiful varieties include:

Solanum pseudocapsicum “Variegata”

  • Growth height up to 60 cm
  • orange-red berries
  • beautiful variegated leaves
  • blooms and bears fruit at the same time

Solanum pseudocapsicum ‚New Patterson‘

  • Height of growth 60 cm to 80 cm
  • bright orange-yellow fruits
  • white flowers with yellow eye

Solanum pseudocapsicum ‚Mandarin‘

  • lush green, delicate leaves
  • Berries are reminiscent of mandarins
  • Growth height 50 cm to 60 cm
  • particularly vigorous

Solanum pseudocapsicum ‚Goldball‘

  • large, golden yellow fruits
  • Height of growth 60 cm to 80 cm
  • numerous deep green leaves

Solanum pseudocapsicum ‚Thurino‘

  • Medium-sized coral bush
  • slightly smaller fruits than with ‘Mandarin’
  • also available as a dwarf shrub

Solanum pseudocapsicum ‚Tucana‘

  • one of the most impressive varieties
  • accordingly somewhat larger foliage
  • well suited for large-volume buckets
  • yellow-green fruits turn orange

Risk of confusion with the Caribbean coral bush

A shrub from the tropics is also known as a coral shrub. However, this is the genus Erythrina with more than 50 species in a wide variety of growth forms and sizes. It is true that conspicuous flowers that are reminiscent of tiger claws are formed; however, nothing of fruit or berries can be seen far and wide. When purchasing the plant or its seeds, it is therefore advisable to take a look at the botanical name in order to avoid confusion.

Diseases and pests

Even with the most careful care, the coral tree cannot be completely protected from attack by pests or fungi:

Whitefly
The whitefly is tiny at 2 mm in length. Since it has wings in contrast to its relatives, the scale insects, it spreads extremely quickly. Yellow speckles appear on the infected leaves as a sign of the merciless sucking out of the sap. It is helpful to place the plants in as airy a location as possible and to keep them cool in winter, but not below 8 ° Celsius. Sticky traps are also effective in combating this. One of their natural enemies, the parasitic wasp, is available in specialist shops and destroys the pests within a short time.

Aphids
There is hardly a plant that they spare. Therefore, an extensive range of effective control methods has developed, from spraying with a soft soap solution to the use of lacewing larvae and ladybirds to neem-containing insecticides. Experienced gardening enthusiasts can use the pesticide database to keep themselves up to date on which products are currently approved for use in the home garden.

Spider mites
The risk of spider mite infestation is particularly high during the winter when the coral tree is in a heated room. With a size of 0.5 mm to 1 mm, the pests themselves can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Only the white webs that appear between the leaf axils and on the underside of the foliage indicate a visit by the sucking pests. As a preventive measure, the coral cherry should be sprayed regularly with lime-free water. Predatory mites, which are available in garden centers and online shops, have proven to be successful in the biological control of the very resistant mites. They kill the spider mites without harming the plant.

Growing environmental awareness in the private and public sectors is increasingly evident in the use of biological pest control. The goal is not the complete elimination of the unwanted insects but the targeted control of their reproduction in order to keep the ecosystem in balance. The use of natural predators and plant pesticides is an integral part of the principles. However, this procedure entails that the application usually has to be repeated several times in order for the desired effect to occur.

Conclusion
Even gardening enthusiasts who have already got to know a multitude of fascinating plants will rave about a coral bush. The small tropical shrub patiently lets the other plants in summer take precedence in order to steal the show from them in late summer. Numerous white flowers appear at the same time with first yellow-green and later bright orange or red berries. Until then, it needs little attention as long as there is enough light, water and nutrients available. In the bed, it unfortunately only pleases the hobby gardener until the temperatures drop, because the coral cherry cannot tolerate frost at all. Therefore, the plant is preferably cultivated as a house or container plant. Unfortunately, the decorative berries are only meant to be looked at and not for consumption because they are poisonous.

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