HOW TO GROW SOLANUM (winter cherry)

There are about 1700 species in this genus but the one most important as a houseplant is.s’. capskastrum from Brazil. This forms a neat little bushy plant and is notable for its bright red berries at around Christmas time. It is very often confused with capsicums , which usually have more elongated fruits, and with.S. pseudocapsicum which has smaller berries and smooth foliage. \ pseudocapsicum, of South-eastern American origin, is also often grown as a houseplant called Jerusalem cherry, and may be sold under the name of.S. capsicastmnh Unlike capsicums, the berries of both these solan urns should be regarded as poisonous. There have been cases of toxic illness, and care should be taken. The solanums are usually sold in the shops when their berries are just beginning to turn orange or red. Often there is a gradual transition from green through yellow and orange to bright red. The plants are moderately easy to grow from seed, but do not set fruit as easily as capsicums, and they need to be sown earlier for Christmas display. About February is the best time. Culture from seed is similar in other respects to capsicums, ami 13cm (5 in.) pots should be the final size. Solanums are especially prone to magnesium deficiency which causes sickly growth and yellowing foliage, which may tend to fall easily. Water from time to time with Epsom salts 500ml (1 pt) of water – as a routine measure. The plants are usually grown as an annual, but some people manage to save the plants for a number of years, keeping them frost-free and pruning back to a neat shape. Pests and diseases are uncommon.

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