Red cestrum: Cestrum elegans

A member of the Soknaceae family, the red cestrum is native to Mexico and was first introduced into cultivation at the beginning of the 20th century.

The reddish-purple flowers appear throughout the summer at the end of the slender purple-coloured branches, followed by round, dark-red berries. It makes a bushy shrub with a height of up to 3 m (10 ft). Although cestrums tolerate full sun, they are best planted in partial shade because of their great need of water during the summer.

Feed weekly from spring to late summer and every two to three weeks during winter. Dead blooms should be removed regularly. Place in a light room at a temperature of 10-15° C (50-59° F) or in a dark place at a temperature of 5-10° C (41-50° F). In this case the plant will lose its leaves. Dampness will lead grey mould. Rejuvenate the plant by cutting back older shoots down to the base before over-wintering. It is easily propagated from tip cuttings or semi-ripe cuttings taken in spring. The plant is poisonous.

30. May 2014 by Dave Pinkney
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