Are not fruiting plants adorable as ornamental elements in homes? Jerusalem, which is the plant known as winter cherry, is quite popular as a decorative plant to buy at Christmas time so also known as Christmas cherry. These small perennials stand out for the look and erect, bushy evergreen shrub with little cherries. The good news is: They are surprisingly easy to grow and care for in addition to taking up not much space. However, extra caution is needed in some particular respects. Now it is time to introduce this charming plant and help you get to know it closer.
1) General Information For Jerusalem/Winter Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
Jerusalems are native to South American countries, mainly Peru and Ecuador. The interesting fact is that: the plant is a member of the Solanaceae family, which is also known as the Nightshade family (of which not only tomato and pepper are members, but also potato, eggplant, and tobacco. This simply explains why the Jerusalem cherry’s white flowers and fruits are very reminiscent of cherry tomatoes both in taste and texture. However, let us underline the fact that: Cherries of this plant are toxic. So the best is to never confuse them with tomato cherries. Make sure to keep the plant out of the reach of curious children and pets. Any part of the plant can cause poisoning and even death when ingested.
The plant does not generally exceed 1 meter in height. They generally live up to 10 years. They can survive frosts and cold weather despite being native to warm countries in South America. They are mostly grown as a part of the container gardening
2) How to Care for Jerusalem/Winter Cherry
Growing conditions for a winter cherry are not quite a challenge to provide. But keep in mind that some of the specific conditions make a major difference in the plant. They can be grown both indoors and outdoors, but the choice mainly affects their bloom. Indoors, they behave as an ornamental plant that really makes their colors pop during the cold seasons. They simply prefer cold temperatures, bright light, and rich well-draining soil.
So they are lovers of bright light since the plant is genetically adapted to be grown outdoors. If it is chosen as a houseplant, locate Jerusalem cherry plants near a window that receives daytime sun. Although they can indeed tolerate moderate light.
Watering is an important point to highlight when it comes to winter cherry’s care. The recommendation for the owners of the plant is to keep the soil moist by watering it frequently during the growing period, which is the warmer seasons. Another recommendation is to allow the soil to become relatively dry out before waterings at the end of winter until the start of spring.
It is important to note that: Being moderate is important both for watering and sunlight. If the leaves start to yellow during the warm seasons, this could be a sign of either being overwatered or being over-exposed to sunlight.
Average indoor humidity seems to be fine under the ideal conditions of temperature. Misting the leaves could be beneficial to improve.
The ideal temperature for winter cherries is 15-21°C during the spring and summers 10-15°C during the cold seasons. The plant is known for tolerating frosts and extreme colds however the best is to take it indoors when faced with temperatures 5°C and below.
The choice of soil type is another important point to highlight. Winter cherries should be planted in rich well-draining soil. This makes a difference in the plant’s growth since drainage is the critical point to avoid overwatering and root rot.
The ideal is to feed the plant by using a liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
Winter cherries may not the easiest to propagate. Yet, the options are to propagate through seeds in early spring or cuttings in late winter. However, propagation by using cuttings is known to be a much more complicated method and has a limited chance of success. If cuttings are chosen, the good idea is to root the cut pieces in moist soil and water as needed. Sowing by using seeds seems to be more tedious since it does take a while. But on the other hand, has a higher chance of success.
Here is how to propagate from seeds: Take the seeds inside the mature fruits. By planting them in the ground you will get their seedlings. Ripe fruit contains many seeds. After squeezing and popping, keep it in a breezy place for days and wait for it to dry. Then plant your seeds. Without exception, each seed will soon germinate and you will have lots of Jerusalem cherry seedlings. There is no problem in removing and relocating the seedlings. They will adapt to their new place before long. Do not be late to separate the seedlings (so that the roots do not get tangled) because they will take root too much. When they reach 6 – 7 cm in height, you should plant them in separate pots.
3) Keep in Mind: Common Problems for Jerusalem/Winter Cherry
The issues that the owner of the plant will possibly face could be root rot and yellowing leaves. Overwatering and over-exposure to sunlight possibly lead to yellowing leaves. Using a well-draining soil mix can avoid root rot and issues resulting from overwatering. Also, let us remind you that: If there are nematode parasites in the soil, Jerusalem cherries won’t live long there.
The Jerusalem Cherry is an attractive ornamental plant with its look though it is toxic. This is a fact should not be neglected. Keep in mind that it can harm the health of the members of the home when ingested while being much more dangerous for animals; poisonous to cats, dogs, and birds.