By Mary Welch-Keesey, Purdue University Consumer Horticulture
Specialist, and Martha Bailey, volunteer, at
Solanum pseudocapsicum is sometimes called "Christmas Cherry" or "Winter Cherry." It is an erect, bushy, evergreen shrub, often grown as a winter-fruiting annual. It has wavy-margined, elliptical leaves up to 3 inches long, which are a glossy, dark green. In summer it bears white flowers similar to those of tomato or pepper. These are followed by long-lasting spherical red, yellow, or orange-red fruit, 1/2 to 3/4 inch across. The fruit is the real interest of Jerusalem cherry which is often sold as a potted plant in the winter months.
Jerusalem cherry can be easily propagated by seed and by shoot cuttings. Seed sown in March will produce a fruited plant by late October. Grow the plant outdoors as you would a tomato, but bring inside before danger of frost in the fall (41°F is the minimum temperature this plant can tolerate). Water as needed to make sure the media does not dry out and fertilize regularly. If you are growing the plant indoors, make sure to shake or tap the plant while it is in flower to insure pollination. Good pollination is required for good fruit set. Once the fruit is well-developed, reduce fertilization and be careful not to overwater. In spring, cut back the plant to stimulate new growth. Then, grow outside or indoors. The plant should flower and produce fruit on the same schedule as the previous year.
ALL PARTS OF THE PLANT, BUT ESPECIALLY THE SMALL RED FRUIT, ARE
TOXIC AND POTENTIALLY FATAL IF EATEN.
KEEP OUT OF REACH OF SMALL CHILDREN.
Last updated: 6 April, 2006
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