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How to Grow Bead Plant — Nertera

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Nertera–commonly called bead plant–is a tropical ground-hugging perennial covered with tiny oval or round leaves 1/4 inch in size. Nearly inconspicuous bell-shaped flowers appear in summer followed by fleshy, spherical orange-red berries. Nertera is usually grown as a houseplant for its decorative berries.

Outdoors in tropical regions, Nertera can be grown as a groundcover or in rock gardens. It grows best in partial shade. Where not hardy, Nertera can be grown indoors where it needs bright filtered light.

Nertera is a genus of about 6 species of mat-forming perennials. They are native to moist lowlands in South China, Southeast Asia, and Australasia.

Get to know Nertera 

  • Plant type:  Perennial
  • Growing zones and range:  Zones 12-13
  • Hardiness:  Tender 
  • Height and width: 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.6cm) tall; thin trailing stems to 12 inches (30cm) long. 
  • Foliage: Small, broadly ovate to lance-shaped leaves
  • Flowers: Tiny 1/4 inch bell-shaped flowers are followed by glossy bright orange berries. 
  • Bloom time: Bloom in summer. 
  • Uses:  Groundcover, rock garden, houseplant
  • Common name:  Bead plant
  • Botanical name:  Nertera
  • Family name:  Rubiaceae
  • Origin:  Southern China, Southeast Asia
Bead plant, Nertera granadensis
Bead plant, Nertera granadensis

Where to plant Nertera 

  • Light outdoors: Grow Nertera in partial shade.
  • Light indoors: Provide Nertera with bright light. 
  • Soil:  Grow Nerta in humus-rich, gritty, moist, but well-drained soil.

When to plant Nertera 

  • Set container-grown Nertera outdoors in tropical regions any time of the year.

Planting and spacing Nertera  

  • Space  Nertera 12 inches (30cm) apart.

How to water and feed Nertera 

  • Water: Allow the soil to dry to the touch between thorough waterings. 
  • Feeding: Fertilize Nertera only after the plant has flowered in summer excess fertilizer encourages foliage growth but inhibits flowers and fruit production. 

Nertera care 

  • Protect Nertera from excess moisture.

Growing Nertera as a houseplant

  • Give Nertera bright light, a cool temperature, and high humidity.
  • Allow the soil to dry to the touch between thorough watrerings.
  • Fertilize Nertera only after the plant has flowered in summer; excess fertilizer encourages foliage growth but inhibits flower and fruit production.

Nertera pests and diseases  

  • Nertera can be attacked by aphids and spider mites.

Nertera propagation  

  • Propagate Nertera by division and use an all-purpose soil mix for repotting.
  • Sow seed in warm soil in spring. 

Nertera varieties to grow  

  • Nertera depressa, bead plant. Forms a mound of bright green, rounded leaves. 
  • N. granadensis, bead plant. Moss-like perennial with bright green leaves; bears bell-shaped yellowish green glowers followed by masses of spherical shiny, orange or re berries. 

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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