Solanum capsicastrum – Winter Cherry

An attractive, compact shrub from Brazil. It grows from 1-2 feet high, has neat, dark green leaves and during autumn and winter bears masses of coloured berries. The colour of these varies with the degree of ripeness so that all colours from white to red may be seen on the plant at the same time. The berries are poisonous and must be kept out of the reach of small children.

Temperatures:

  • Growing season 12-21 °C (53-70 °F)
  • Minimum winter 7-10 °C (45-50 °F)

Soil: A soil-less compost.

Where to position Winter Cherry: A light position which permits only a little sunshine. Excessive draughts or temperature changes may cause the berries to drop – and sometimes the leaves.

Watering requirements: Keep the soil just moist and springy to the touch. No special humidity needs, but mist-spraying when in flower helps to set the berries. Pollination is helped by using small, soft brush on the blooms.

Solanum capsicastrum - Winter Cherry

General care: Feed weak liquid fertilizer once weekly. Keep in a cool spot; avoid over-watering. Keep in one place or berries may fall.

Rest: Winter Cherry rests after the berries have fallen, usually in early spring. Re-pot, shaking out old compost and replacing with fresh. Place in a cool, bright spot ; water to keep a good soil condition. Feed as growth increases. When re-potting, straggly plants can be gently cut back. In summer, it may be put outside in a sheltered spot, but bring it inside by late September. Keep in good light and rotate from time to time.

When it looks sick:

  • Leaves and / or berries begin to drop : May be due to over-watering; check the soil condition. The cause may also be a sharp temperature rise; put in a cool place.
  • The leaves become yellow even though the soil condition is good : Magnesium deficiency. Water it with a solution of magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts) 1 oz to 1 pint. If the shock has been too great it may lose leaves and berries; allow the plant to rest. It will grow again in due season.

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