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By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer
Japanese ardisia is grown in many countries besides its native homelands of China and Japan. Hardy in zones 7-10, this ancient herb is now more commonly grown as an evergreen ground cover for shady locations. For Japanese ardisia plant info, click here.
The coral berry is a shrub that grows with a single stem or possibly multiple stems - displaying branches of leathery oval shaped leaves, which can be grown outdoors or indoors with the correct conditions.
Note for outdoor growers: Outdoors they are an invasive species (in the US south-east) and a pain for some growers because of how easy seedlings spread, the rate of success they germinate and how they affect the understory of other plant species (more about the invasive side effects of the plant here if your planning to grow outdoors). In Florida it has become a bit of a pest.
Right, back to growing indoors.
Flowering: This plant produces small clusters of white or very pale pink flowers which bloom from late spring to early summer. Once the flowers have bloomed they're followed by clusters of red berries, which last for a fair few months. The flowers and berries appear within the mid section of the tree.
Foliage: As mentioned above the leaves grow on branches form a single stem usually, although multiple stem plants can also grow. The glossy dark green serrated leaves which are oval shaped, grow to approximately 3 - 5 inches long and a couple of inches wide. Overall, the coral berry tree looks attractive with or without flowers and berries, especially if it's pruned well.
Poisonous: I have found no supporting evidence that proves this plant is poisonous. However, its suggested by many that it is toxic to humans, livestock and pets. I'm sure the leaves are to large for cats and dogs to even try consuming.
Displaying: The coral is a fine looking species which looks great in a prominent position that will be noticed by your self and visitors. Obviously, the conditions (light, temperature etc.) need to be right. Also, great looking in a conservatory or hall way and grow well in greenhouses (although not seen much here).
Pruning: I would advise growers to prune the ardisia crenata during spring before the flowers begin budding. This will keep the tree at a reasonable size and allow the foliage to become a nice rounded full shape.
ZZ plants are notorious for being low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for houseplants that even gardeners with the blackest of thumbs can keep alive. All they need to thrive is adequate light, and a good watering every couple of weeks. However, don’t worry too much about forgetting to water your ZZ plant—ZZ plants grow from rhizomes which help them to store water under the soil, making them a ‘drought-tolerant’ plant.
Luckily, ZZ plants are not prone to any pests in particular. However keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as mealy bugs, scale, fungus gnats, and aphids as ZZ plants can get infested by these pests.
ZZ plants have naturally shiny leaves that can begin to look dull over time as dust accumulates. Never clean the leaves of a ZZ plant with a commercial leaf shine as it will clog the pores of the plant! Instead, gently wipe away dust and debris with a damp washcloth to restore its shine.
ZZ plants are tolerant of a wide range of lighting conditions which makes them well-suited to indoor growing. While ZZ plants can ‘technically’ survive without any natural light, they do best in bright, indirect light and can quickly become leggy when not given enough light. Avoid direct sunlight as this can scorch the leaves of a ZZ plant.
ZZ plants are not overly picky about their potting medium as long as it is well-draining. Most standard potting mixes should be sufficient for your ZZ plant. If additional drainage is required, mixing in perlite or sand will help.
Thanks to their thick rhizomes, ZZ plants are extremely drought-tolerant and can handle infrequent watering. In general, ZZ plants should be watered once the soil dries out completely—usually once every week or two depending on their growing conditions. But if necessary, ZZ plants can survive months without water, so it is better to under-water your ZZ plant than to over-water it.
Average household temperatures and humidity are fine for ZZ plants. In general, ZZ plants do not tolerate cold temperatures well (no lower than 45F) so avoid placing your ZZ plant in a location close to drafts or particularly cold areas of your home. ZZ plants don't require humid conditions, but if your home runs on the dry side consider increasing the humidity around your ZZ plant by purchasing a humidifier or placing it on top of a water tray.
Generally, ZZ plants do not require regular fertilizing to thrive. However, to keep the plant in optimal health, fertilize your ZZ plant with indoor plant fertilizer diluted to half-strength one to two times during its active growing season.