HOW TO GROW NERTERA (bead plant)

1 deg C/34 deg F

This is a small genus of creeping evergreens with tiny oval leaves, sometimes forming mounds or hummocks. The flowers are minute and greenish in colour, but the berries that follow are just like brilliant orange or red beads. These berries – or drupes as they are correctly called – are often borne in profusion, almost covering the plant. They are also retained for up to about two months, making the plant decorative for a long period. The most common pot species is N. granadensis, a native of Mexico, which has very bright orange berries. It is often confused with N. depressa and wrongly labelled. The latter species is of New Zealand origin, usually faster growing and more vigorous, and has smaller, bright-red berries. It is often hardy in sheltered places outdoors. especially in the south. . balfourlcma is also from New Zealand. but the berries are yellow to pale orange. The plants are best grown in pans or half-pots, since they are not deep rooting. A fairly wide container is needed so that there is plenty of room for the plants to spread and form an attractive and pleasing cushion. The plants like to be kept moist at all

times, but not waterlogged. A good humidity is also appreciated, although it is unwise to spray the plants. If the matted growth is kept wet for too long it is liable to rot or encourage the mould botrylis (Botrytis cinerea), which forms brown to greyish furry growth, ultimately leading to rotting. In summer. a shaded place should be found, but plenty of light can be given in winter. Dividing the plants in spring is a simple form of propagation or sow seeds.

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