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Solanum pseudocapsicum (so-LAN-num soo-doh-KAP-sih-kum)
Jerusalem cherries are erect, bushy, evergreen shrubs that usually are 18 to 24 inches tall. Their leaves are a glossy, dark blue-green and are about 3 inches long. In the summer, the plants have nondescript white flowers that are replaced by long-lasting spherical red, yellow or orange-red fruit that is usually about one-half inch in diameter.
The plants’ blossoms are white. The fruit’s hues include yellow, red, orange and orange-red.
With appropriate care, Jerusalem cherry plants can maintain their fruit for up to three months.
Jerusalem cherry plants are available year-round from various sources.
in-store and consumer care
LIGHT The plants should be placed in an area with moderate light but never full sun.
WATER Check the plants daily to make sure the soil is kept evenly moist. Water the plants well during active growth. Severe drying will cause the leaves to yellow and drop and the fruit to fall.
TEMPERATURE Jerusalem cherries should not be exposed to sudden changes in temperature. Display them in a cool location—50 F to 60 F is an ideal temperature—and avoid locations with drafts. Protect the plants from temperatures higher than 90 F, heat ducts and other heat- or fume-producing appliances.
HUMIDITY The plants need high levels of humidity. They will benefit from misting.
GROOMING Remove any dead or rotted foliage at the base of the plants as well as any faded flowers.
SOIL Use a well-drained organic soil mix.
FERTILIZER Feed these plants with a diluted solution of a complete houseplant fertilizer every two weeks while the plants are growing. Discontinue feeding when the plants have finished blooming.
REBLOOMING In early spring, the leaves and berries will begin to fall. Cut the plants back severely and place them in a cool place near a window. Limit watering, keeping the roots moist. Repot the plants, or move them outdoors in June or July. The plants should flower and produce fruit at the same time as the previous year.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Jerusalem cherries are sensitive to ethylene gas. Check with your supplier to make sure your plants are treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower or transportation level.
PESTS Aphids, spider mites and whiteflies can become a problem if the environment is too warm. Control them by washing the plants with an insecticidal soap.
CAUTION Jerusalem cherries’ seeds, fruit and leaves are all poisonous if ingested. Advise your customers to keep these plants out of the reach of animals and children. If any part of the plant is ingested, medical help should be sought right away.
WHAT’S IN A NAME The genus name is derived from the Latin “solamen,” which means “relief” or “comfort,” alluding to the plant’s sedative qualities. Despite its common name, Jerusalem cherry is not related to the edible cherry.
FAMILY Jerusalem cherries are members of the Solonaceae (nightshade) family. This large family includes Petunias and Browallias as well as many commercial food crops including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and tobacco.
HOME SWEET HOME Most species come from the tropical Americas although the plants are native to many parts of the world.
BLOOMS Watch for any signs of cold damage or bruising to the flowers.
Some information provided by:
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Daves Garden, www.davesgarden.com
The Garden Helper, www.thegardenhelper.com
The New York Times, www.health.nytimes.com/health/guides
Plant Ideas, www.plantideas.com
Purdue University, www.hort.purdue.edu
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
Reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 239-3140.
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.