Hundreds of plants belong to the ardisia genus, widespread in most of the tropical areas of the globe; in reality in the nursery we find almost exclusively Ardisia crenata, a species native to central Asia, in the area that goes from India to China and Japan. In places of origin it becomes a medium-sized shrub, instead cultivated in pot it remains below the meter of height; in particular in European nurseries there are often varieties selected for their small size and compactness of vegetation. This small evergreen shrub is very decorative, it has large oval leaves, dark green, leathery, with a wavy, glossy margin; in spring at the apex of the branches small star-shaped white flowers bloom, slightly perfumed, pensuili, gathered in racemes. In autumn the flowers are followed by small red berries; the berries, brightly colored, can remain on the plant for months, often even after the following year's flowering; moreover the branches that bear the berries tend to defoliate, making the fruits stand out even more.
How they are cultivated
These plants are easy to grow, since they can withstand even less ideal conditions without being excessively damaged; in reality to live a healthy and luxuriant plant, an abundant flowering, and always colored and decorative berries it is good to follow some indications. First of all it is essential to find a suitable place for ours ardisia crenata: this plant does not like the direct sun, which tends to stain the foliage and ruin the entire plant; We therefore choose a well-lit place but where the sunlight arrives filtered, so as not to harm our plant.
Furthermore, we remind you that the first rule to have a beautiful and lush plant is to bury it in the most suitable soil: the crenata Ardisia is satisfied with any soil, but it has excellent results only by using a soil rich in organic, soft, and very well drained matter; if we want to cultivate this shrub in pot we remember to repot it every year, in autumn, changing most of the soil of the container with fresh and rich soil.
Watering will be aimed at maintaining a slightly damp, but not soaked soil, always waiting for it to dry completely between one watering and another; therefore in spring and summer we water frequently, while during the cold months we supply only sporadicametne water, in order to avoid the development of harmful water stagnations. From March to October, we mix the specific watering plants with flowering water every 10-12 days.
At home or in the garden
In Europe the Ardisie are cultivated as house plants, with minimum temperatures close to 15-18 ° C; in reality in the areas of origin the winter temperatures are decidedly inferior, and these plants can easily bear short durations of slight entity. So we can grow them at home, in a large vase, but also in the garden, in the open ground. Also in the second case we will find for the shrub a luminous position, but far from the direct rays of the sun, and we will use a rich and drained soil; we remember in any case that these shrubs do not bear very intense frosts, and above all do not withstand continuous cold for weeks and weeks; so if the winter appears to be very rigid let's cover the plants cultivated outdoors with some fabric, in order to protect them from the cold. Or let's keep the plants in pots, so as to move the container to a protected place during the coldest weeks of the year. It may however happen that outdoor cultivated slates are ruined by frost; in this case it is advisable to prune the entire plant up to the soil: the following spring new stems will begin to develop from the roots.
We also remember that often in the nursery specimens are sold that have been grown in greenhouses for a few years; it is therefore difficult to expose these plants to the winter climate of northern Italy in a sudden manner, since they have acclimatized to the greenhouse. For this reason, before planting an ardisia in the garden, first of all we ask the nurseryman if the plant was cultivated in a heated greenhouse; in this case let's expose it to the cold a little at a time, avoiding leaving it outdoors during the coldest days, for at least a few years.
To always have a plant of ardisia crenata luxuriant and shining it is necessary to remember some small things; aside from watering, repotting and fertilizing, remember to keep the berries clean, which, remaining on the plant for months, tend to be ruined and dusty, especially at home; then periodically spray them with water, or clean them with a soft brush. When the climate is very dry, and the climate is often very dry, we periodically vaporize the entire foliage with demineralized water, even every day if the air is very dry.
Ardisia plants tend to produce more stems from the same root; if some stems or branches are smaller than the others, and do not produce flowers, it is good to cut them at the base, to allow the plant to produce more vigorous stems and branches.
Ardisia crenata: Ardisia diseases
As previously mentioned, ardisia plants are not weak plants and do not get sick very frequently. With the correct amount of water, frequent repotting if cultivated in pots or in any case an adequate fertilizer, and the right exposure an ardisia plant hardly gets sick.
However, even this plant can suffer from diseases and the easiest to find are the cochineal and aphids, as well as a withering of the leaves but which occurs only in summer if the temperatures are too high.
Cochineal is a parasite that affects many plants and that can also be found on ardisia. In case of attack it can be sufficient or a mechanical removal, in the case of small portions of the plant, or it can be used with a specific pesticide that can be purchased in any nursery or garden center.
Another pest that affects the ardisia are aphids, also these parasites quite frequent on plants and affect many different types of plants. Aphids are sap-sucking insects that attack the leaves on the underside and produce a sugary substance as waste. Aphids steal the plant's sap and therefore weaken it even if limited infestations are not lethal. However on the sugar patina that is deposited on the leaves fungi can easily grow, the fumaggini, so called because of their dark color. These fungi, in addition to attacking the leaves and weakening them, with their blackish patina prevent photosynthesis causing the leaves to dry up and then die. Aphids can be eliminated by using specific products for sale in nurseries and in garden centers and they must be fought before the infestation reaches an important size and above all before the smoke arrives.