Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Plantastic! (Nertera granadensis)



The 'pincushion plant' or 'bead plant' (Nertera granadensis) is one of those eye-catching ornamental plants that florists and garden shops put out front to lure in curious customers whose thumbs are otherwise a few shades darker than green...

Well, it works! Nik bought me one during our CT/upstate NY jaunt this past weekend. (Be sure to check out Kamilla's if you're ever in Millerton, NY.)

The brightly berried ground-cover plant is distributed throughout the southern Pacific region, from Chile to New Zealand to the Philippines, and is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens. In tropical zones, it typically grows only at higher altitudes.

As a house plant, it may prove difficult to keep alive and is not recommended for novice home gardeners (those who are 'green' in the other sense of the word). It prefers cool, airy, bright locations without too much direct sunlight. A partly shaded south-facing window is ideal. It should be planted in porous soil and kept moist (but not soggy). Use a spray bottle to mist the leaves and berries. The plant is best suited for terrarium environments, used as a ground cover like moss.

Classification info:
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Nertera
Species: Nertera granadensis

Care info:
Temperature: Cool (minimum 40ยบ F in winter).
Light: Bright light with some direct sun.
Water: Keep soil moist at all times; water sparingly in winter.
Air Humidity: Mist leaves occasionally.
Care After Flowering: Keep cool and rather dry during winter. Increase watering when new growth appears. Place outdoors from late spring until the berries have appeared. Bring indoors for display.
Propagation: Divide plants in spring before placing outdoors.

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