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record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
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*L Production and Use of Ardisia crenata as a Potted Foliage Plant
C. A. Conover and R. T. Poole
University of Florida, IFAS
Central Florida Research and Education Center Apopka
CFREC-Apopka Research Report, RH-88-15
Ardisia crenata Sims. (Coralberry) is a warm temperate evergreen shrub
that may reach six feet in height in its native habitat from Japan to
northern India. In protected areas of the southeastern U.S. it is grown in
the landscape for its shiny dark green leaves and attractive bright red
berries. Coralberry is also used as a foliage plant in dish gardens or
combinations where it is too small to fruit. It has been suggested that
coralberry may make a good foliage plant in 6-inch or larger pots.
Additionally, selling plants in fruit may make them more desirable for
interior use because they have color that consumers are seeking.
An experiment was initiated July 1, 1985 when 2" tall coralberry
seedlings were planted in 6-inch pots, 5 per pot, containing Florida sedge
peat: mason sand (3:1 by volume) with 7 pounds dolomite and one pound
MicroMax per yd3. Treatment variables were shade level (47, 63 or 80
percent) with shadehouse temperatures ranging from 45-1000F and fertilizer
rate (1.4, 2.8, 4.2, 5.6, 7.0 or 8.4 g 19-6-12 Osmocote/6" pot) applied on
July 8 and October 27, 1985. Plants received overhead irrigation as
needed, usually 3 to 4 times per week, and no pesticide applications were
required. The production phase of the experiment was terminated January
Plant height and grade were similar under all shade levels at
experiment termination (Table 1). However, even though plants grown under
47% shade were the same height as those grown at 63 or 80%, they were more
compact and had smaller leaves. Increasing fertilizer rate up to 5.6 g per
pot increased plant height and grade (Table 1).
At termination of the production phase of the experiment, plants were
moved to interior rooms where they received artificial light (cool white
fluorescent @ 125 ft-c) for 12 hours per day until December 22, 1986.
During the 11 months that plants were indoors they continued to grow and
gained an average of 4" in height while maintaining most of their original
foliage. New growth was very attractive and indicated that conditions were
above plant light compensation points. Plants bloomed at the normal time
in June and produced fruit; however, much of the fruit had fallen by Dec.
22, 1986 when plants were rated. Plants originally grown under the highest
light level (47% shade) produced the most berries, whereas fertilizer rate
had no effect on berry number (Table 1).
1Professor and Center Director and Professor of Physiology respectively,
Central Florida Research and Education Center Apopka, 2807 Binion Road,
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For comparison, a second set of plants for all treatments was W
maintained in the shadehouse under the original shade levels. These plants
averaged a height increase of 4" more than the plants in the interior rooms
and a greatly increased number of berries, which were still on the plants
when rated on Dec. 22, 1986, with means of 87, 127 and 128 per plant under
47, 63 and 80% shade respectively.
Based on the data obtained in this experiment and previous research,
we feel this crop has potential for foliage growers. The information that
follows provides production suggestions.
Propagation of coralberry is from seed collected in the fall or
winter. Research has shown that both green and red seeds germinate equally
well and there does not appear to be any dormancy problem. Seed can be
planted with the pulp present or cleaned without affecting germination. In
an experiment where germination percentage was determined after storage at
various temperatures and durations, we found best germination when seeds
were planted at time of harvest (Table 2). Large decreases in germination
percentage were observed after 2 to 6 months storage at 45, 55, 65 or 750F.
Therefore, seeds should be germinated at time of harvest and during the
cooler seasons of the year.
Potting media for coralberry should be well aerated and have high
water holding capacity. A medium of 100% peat moss is often used for
plants grown in 3-inch pots for dish gardens and combinations. For larger
plants in 6 or 8-inch pots a medium composed of 60% peat moss, 30% pine
bark and 10% sand is suggested, although most mixes designed for containers
will be satisfactory. Media should be amended to include a moderate level
of micronutrients such as 1 to 1 1/2 lbs MicroMax/yd3 and sufficient
dolomite to adjust medium pH to 5.5 to 6.0 (usually 5 to 7 lb/yd3 ).
Once established, coralberry tolerates temperatures as high as 90 to
1000F. However, if these temperatures occur during seed germination and
development of the first 4 to 6 leaves, plants will be permanently dwarfed.
This is because propagation temperature can seriously influence
post-germination growth by causing gall formation on stems at the
cotyledonary node. Galling is believed to be caused by high temperature
destruction of the foliar symbiotic relationship normally formed by
Bacterium foliicola. The presence of the bacterium is apparently necessary
to produce cytokinins (1), without which plants remain dwarfed with few
dark green leaves. Suggested temperature ranges are 65 to 850F for
germination and initial growth and 65 to 950 for plant production.
Coralberry is able to withstand temperatures as low as 20-250F without
damage provided plants have been acclimatized as naturally occurs outdoors.
This plant is well adapted to shadehouse production where winter protection
is provided and temperatures do not drop below 450F.
Light intensity can have a large effect on plant appearance, flowering
and berry count. Suggested light levels for production of 2 1/2-3 inch
pots for dish gardens and combinations is 1500 to 2000 ft-c or about 80%
shade. This shade level maximized leaf size, plant height and development
of glossy leaves. Production light levels for 6 to 8-inch potted plants is
suggested as 2000 to 3000 ft-c or about 73 to 80% shade. Decreasing the
shade level reduces leaf area but causes fruit to be more visible; higher
shade levels make more attractive plants but causes some fruit to be hidden
by the larger leaves.
Proper fertilization will maximize growth and appearance. Excellent
quality plants were produced with 5.6 g of 19-6-12 Osmocote/3 months for
plants grown in 6-inch pots, which works out to about 2000 lb
nitrogen/A/year from a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer source (equivalent to
approximately 4.5 lb N, 1.25 Ib P20O and 2.7 lb K 0/1000 ft /month). This
suggestion is based on shadehouse production and could probably be
decreased by 25% if plants are grown under a greenhouse cover and
irrigation is controlled.
Note: The red fruit is not poisonous and is considered edible by natives
inthe regions of origin; however, it is not tasty and few people would
want to eat very much of it. The fruit is listed as a survival food and
has medicinal uses.
1. Ridings, W. H., S. F. Fazli and J. W. Miller. 1975. Temperature and
other factors affecting the frequency of galling in Ardisia seedlings.
Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 88:578-583.
Table 1. Response of Ardisia crenata to various shade and nutritional
Shadehouse production Interior rooms
Jul 1, 1985 Jan 22, 1986 Jan 22, 1986 Dec 22, 1986
Height Plant No. Height Plant
Percent (cm) grades berries (cm) grades
shade Jan 22 Jan 22 Sep 17 Dec 22 Dec 22
47 31 4.2 23 42 4.2
63 30 4.3 4 35 3.3
80 30 4.1 3 43 4.1
Linear NS NS ** NS NS
Quadratic NS NS NS *
g 19-6-12/6" pot
applied Jul 8
& Oct 27, 1985
1.4 27 3.5 1 33 3.3
2.8 29 4.0 6 37 3.6
4.2 31 4.1 12 41 3.9
5.6 32 4.5 16 43 4.3
7.0 32 4.5 20 42 4.1
8.4 32 4.5 7 44 3.9
Linear ** ** NS ** NS
Quadratic NS NS NS NS
Remainder NS NS NS NS NS
z1 = poor quality, 5 = excellent quality.
NS, *, ** Nonsignificant (NS) or significant at the 5 or 1% level.
Table 2. Germination of Ardisia crenata fruit stored at various
temperatures and durations. Initiated Nov. 19, 1984.
Storage Storage Percent germination
(F) (months) Red Seed Green Seed
45 2 58 92
45 4 62 52
45 6 10 0
55 2 47 59
55 4 63 40
55 6 5 12
65 2 45 28
65 4 62 29
65 6 13 9
75 2 62 38
75 4 37 46
75 6 0 8
Controls 98 100
ZFresh berries stored in plastic bags.