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How to Grow Coralberry – Ardisia 

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Ardisia is a small evergreen shrub grown for its whorls of glossy leaves, star-shaped flowers, and lasting bright red berry-like fruits. One species, Ardisia crenata, is often grown as a holiday houseplant, a second is grown as an outdoor groundcover.

Ardisia is a genus of about 150 species of evergreen shrubs. Only the two species listed below are commonly grown.

Get to know Ardisia 

  • Plant type: Evergreen low growing shrub
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 9-12 depending on the variety
  • Optimal growing temperature: day, 70°F (21°C); night, 50° to 55°F (10° to 13°C).  
  • Height and width: 2 to 5 feet (.6-1.5m) tall and 18 to 36 inches (45-91 cm) wide depending on the variety.
  • Foliage: Whorled or spiralle mid- to dark green leaves
  • Flowers: Fragrant white flowers by clusters of pea-sized red berries. 
  • Bloom time: Early summer. 
  • Uses: Houseplant, tropical garden
  • Common name: Coralberry, spiceberry 
  • Botanical name: Ardisia
  • Family name:  Myrsinaceae
  • Origin:  Tropical Asia, Australasia, North and South America
Ardisia crenata, houseplant
Ardisia crenata, houseplant

Where to plant Ardisia 

  • Light indoors: Bright light from eastern or western exposure, with full sun in winter. Ardisia needs bright light in summer and direct light in winter. 
  • Light outdoors: Plant in a shady spot.
  • Soil indoors: Plant Ardisia in an all-purpose pottong mix.
  • Soil outdoors: Plant in well-drained, humus-rich soil.

When to plant Ardisia 

  • Set Ardisia outdoors in spring or autumn in frost-free areas.

Planting and spacing Ardisia 

  • Space Ardisia 18 to 36 inches (45-91 cm) apart.

How to water and feed Ardisia 

  • Water: Keep the soil evenly moist, while flowering, mist around plant, not directly on blooms. t does best in cool room temperature and humidity of 50 percent.
  • Feeding: Fertilize Ardisia weekly during growing season, with mild liquid fertilizer.  

Ardisia care  

  • Dormant period occurs in early spring. Cut plant back to 2 inches (5 cm); withhold water. When new shoots appear, remove all but 3 or 4 of the strongest ones. Repot in new soil or pot-on. Resume watering; 1 month after repotting resume feeding. 
  • Pruning is minimal, but shrubs may need pinching to keep them from getting leggy.

Growing Ardisia as a houseplant

  • Ardisia needs bright light in summer and direct light in winter.
  • Ardisia does best in cool room temperatures and high humidity.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.
  • Fertilize Ardisia regularly in spring and summer with a liquid all-purpose fertilizer.

Ardisia pests and diseases  

  • Ardisia is susceptible to damage from scale insects. It can also get red spider mites if it is grown in a hot, dry environment.  

Ardisia propagation  

  • Propagate Ardisia by air layering, cuttings, or seeds. Cuttings result in a fuller parent plant; air layering helps shape a leggy plant.
  • Ardisia is started from seed by commercial growers under special greenhouse conditions. Home propagation is not recommended.  

Ardisia varieties to grow  

  • Ardisia crenata, coralberry. Grows to 36 inches (91 cm) tall in a shrubby form and can be pruned into a treelike shape; shiny, waxy leaves from 2 to 4 inches long; small, star-shaped, fragrant white flowers by clusters of pea-sized red berries.
  • A. japonica, marlberry. Grows to 18 inches(45cm) tall or less but spreading indefinitely, this Asian species has glossy, toothed leaves up to 3 ½ inches long, held in whorls; clusters of ½ -inch pink or white star-shaped flowers bloom in late summer, followed by round ¼ -inch bright red berries that persist into winter; marlberry spreads quickly by underground runner; its value is as a ground cover in Zones 7 to 9.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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