The Winter Cherry, Solanum capsicastrum, is a popular plant with its bright red berries from October to February or March and especially valued at Christmas time. It is not difficult to grow and needs a minimum temperature of only 7°C. (45°F.)
Spraying solanums lightly with water during the flowering season is important if a good crop of berries is to be achieved.
Although solanums are shrubby and can be kept from year to year it is best to raise new plants from seed annually. The seed can be bought or it can be collected from the berries by cutting them open with a sharp knife. Sowing should take place in February, March or early April in small pots of seed compost. The seeds can be spread out individually in the pot to prevent overcrowding, and should be covered lightly with fine compost. After a good watering each pot should be labelled and covered with glass. If the pots are stood in a propagating frame heated to 16 to 18°C. (60 to 65°F.) germination will soon take place and the glass must then be removed.
The seedlings should be moved to 3-in. pots filled with John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost when about 1 in. tall. When they have filled the pots with roots they should be potted on into 5- or 6-in. pots using the same mixture.
To encourage a bushy habit pinch out the tip of each plant when it is a few inches tall and pinch back the side growths during the summer. Summer Treatment. From early June to September stand the plants in a frame or plant them in a warm, sunny border. Pollination. To ensure a good crop of berries, spray the plants with water each day when they are in flower.
Watering and Feeding
Plants kept in pots in summer need feeding once a week with liquid or soluble fertiliser and copious supplies of water in hot weather. Housing. Move the plants back into the greenhouse in September, repotting into 6-in. pots those which have been grown in a border and keeping them close and warm until they have settled down.