Solanum 'Thurino' - Jerusalem/Winter Cherry


Solanum pseudocapsicum 'Thurino'. Copyright: Pick Ontario.



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Dormancy Period & Achieving Flowers/Fruits
  4. Common Issues
  5. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity.


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Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Moderate to Hard
  • Winter Cherries are best kept in a bright location with a few hours of morning or evening sunlight. A north or east-facing windowsill is best for good quality growth and long-lasting berries. 
  • We recommend keeping the soil relatively moist by allowing the top third to dry between waters. Remember to use room temperature water to avoid shocking the sensitive roots, which may weaken the plant's health over time. 
  • Fertilise every four waters all year round, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser to ensure quality foliage and flower/berry development. 
  • Repot every three years during the spring, using a 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix and the next sized pot. 
  • Keep an eye out for Spider Mites & Mealybugs that'll hide in the plant's cubbyholes and underneath the leaves.
  • Naturally, your Winter Cherry will flower in the months of late summer and may begin developing the poisonous berries by mid-autumn. The overall lifespan for the show of berries can be up to two months, lasting until mid-winter.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸

In order to prolong the lifespan of the berries, be sure to provide a bright windowsill. Locations that are too dark will significantly increase the risk of berry-drop, soil mould and weakened health, so optimising its light requirements is critical for success. We recommend keeping the plant in either a north or east-facing windowsill as it'll provide a gentle splash of morning sunlight to stimulate photosynthesis and, therefore, better health.


Water - 🔸🔸🔸

Winter Cherries aren't a fan of having dry feet for too long. Once the top third of the soil has dried out, give the plant a good water over the sink to avoid water-logging issues. Whilst the specimen is bearing the berries, it's essential not to use cold water as this will quickly shock the roots, causing multiple issues down the line. Under-watering symptoms include rapid berry loss and dry, sunken leaves; these issues are usually due to either forgetfulness, too much sunlight or too much heat. Over-watering symptoms include rotting lower leaves, yellowing leaves, a loss of flowers or berries, and root rot. Allow the majority of the soil to dry out in between waters, preventing a pool of standing water from accumulating beneath the pot.


Humidity - 🔸🔸

Average room humidity is more than enough to occupy Winter Cherries. Never situate this plant within three metres of an operating radiator as it will cook both the plant and the surrounding air moisture. 


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Use a fertiliser high in potassium to prolong its flowers and berries - an excellent example would be a 'Tomato' labelled product mixed in with every forth water. Regular fertilisers, for instance, BabyBio or Miracle-Gro, will still do the job but will favour foliar growth instead. For the rest of the year, a standard 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser can be used to supplement the plant, once every four waters. 




Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers/Fruits

The following steps should be done at the end of summer until the start of spring when growth slows. Always think of ukhouseplants' acronym of SHORT when it's time for flowers. They're better off staying pot bound for several reasons, including the prevention of root rot or transplant shock, and to put momentarily stress on the plant. Although this may sound harsh, a restriction of roots is the best way to obtain flowers, as it'll send out clusters in response to becoming under threat. As long as the plant is subsequently repotted every three years in the spring, no harm is done.


Sunlight & Location

Be sure to provide a bright location with partial sunlight of up to three hours a day. For the specimen to fully become seasoned, avoid the use of artificial lighting or locations that boast temperatures higher than 18℃  (64℉).


Hydration

Reduce waters so that about half of the soil becomes dry. It's essential to keep them on the drier side to life, as they'll think that hard times are ahead and therefore will need to pass their genes on to the next generation.


Occasional Feeds

Whilst the plant isn't budding or in bloom, use a 'Houseplant' labelled feed every four waters. Once you can see the small flower buds develop, use a 'Tomato' fertiliser to provide monthly nourishment of potassium which will help prolong the flowers and berries. 


Reduce Everything

This one is to remind you that everything needs to be reduced - especially the temperature.


Temperature

This is the most significant step; reduce the temperature down by around 5℃ compared to the summertime or place in a room that's around 15℃  (59℉). The drop in temperature should ideally last until the inflorescence finishes blooming, although it can still be transferred into the main house as long as it sits on a pebble tray. You'll be at a significant disadvantage if the ambient temperature is kept constant throughout the year, as Winter Cherries will only respond with flowers in cooled environments. Never exceed the minimum temperature as it could lead to plant death or yellowed foliage at a bare minimum.




Common Issues with Winter Cherries

Under-watering is the biggest issue when it comes to Winter Cherries. Typical signs of this include wilting, sunken leaves, rapid flower or bud drop and stunted growth. Not only will you have to be mindful of persistent droughts, think about which plant parts to keep dry. Its foliage must also remain dry at all times to prevent the development of diseases and blights. Those situated in direct sunlight or within four metres of a radiator are more likely to suffer from under-watering related issues.

Too much sunlight will lead to sun scorch, with typical signs including browning or crispy leaves, dry leaf-edges, sunken leaves or stunted growth. Although too little light will cause over-watering issues, too much sunlight will also be a detriment. Unfortunately, indoor Winter Cherries cannot tolerate more than two hours of direct sunlight a day, unlike their outdoor counterparts. If yours has fallen short of this, reduce the amount of sunlight considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when two locations offer too different growing conditions). Remove the most affected leaves and increase waters slightly.

Sudden flower/berry loss can be caused by an array of different issues, including a change in location, too little hydration, too hot or cold temperatures or droughts and pests. Whilst the plant is in bloom, keep the soil evenly moist, to hydrate the thirsty work of producing flowers and berries. Locations that are outside of the recommended temperature bracket, or have drastic fluctuations must also be kept off the cards, as Winter Cherries can be very sensitive to the ambient warmth that they're situated in. The final issue could be to do with pests. Although it's improbable that an infestation will cause a sudden change in health, have a quick inspection for WhiteflyAphids and Mealybugs

 


 
Origins

Solanum pseudocapsicum was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, placing it in the newly constructed genus of Solanum. Its name comes from the Latin for 'Sun', whereas the specific epithet of 'pseudocapsicum' refers to the species' loose similarity to the Pepper Plant. It has natural distributions right across South America, including countries like Argentina, Brazil and Chile. 


The Distribution of Solanum pseudocapsicum


Temperature

10° - 25°C   (50° - 78°F)
H1c (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors between late spring and summer throughout most of the UK while nighttime temperatures are above 12℃  (54℉).  If you decide to bring the plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing back indoors.


Spread

Up to 0.9m in height and 0.6m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 8 years to achieve when grown indoors.


Pruning & Maintenance

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean utensils or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.

It's quite difficult for amateurs to shape a Winter Cherry, as it'll require a lot of effort over  eighteen months to promote a globular shape. Instead, allow the flowers to fully elapse (usually in the end of winter) before pruning the foliage back a third in time for spring.


Propagation

Via Seed or Stem Cuttings.

Seeds (Moderate to Difficult) - If your specimen has berries, remove the flesh to gain access to the seed within - use a pair of gloves if you have sensitive hands. Peel the skin of the seed off to help speed up the rate of germination and soak it in lukewarm water for around 24hrs in a dark location - preferably on top of an operating radiator. The best soil to use is a ‘Houseplant’ labelled potting mix; however, multipurpose compost with added perlite and sand is as good. Set the seed around 1cm (0.5 inches) deep, resisting the temptation to compact it. Maintain evenly moist soil and allow the excess water to freely drain from the pot's base to prevent water-logged conditions. The ideal location for successful germination is in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18℃+  (64℉+)  with bottom-heat. Keep the pot in a transparent bag with small holes to provide a stable level of humidity, along with longer-lasting soil moisture. Germination may take up to three months, so don't discard any unsuccessful seeds until this threshold has been surpassed. Remove the bag once the seedling produces its third leaf and then repot it into a 5cm pot. Repot as necessary and follow the care tips provided at the top of this article. 

Stem & Eye Cuttings (Moderate to Difficult) - This method of propagation is troublesome without the aid of bottom-heat and a controlled environment. Choose the healthiest, most established stems that are wooded, yet still juvenile enough to bend slightly, being just thicker than a phone charger wire. Each cutting should only have a few leaves leaf, above 8cm of semi-wooded stem. Situate the cutting's lower half into moist 'Houseplant' compost; 'Blackleg' can occur when the bottom wound becomes infected, resulting in propagation failure - typically caused by water-logging or deep damage. Maintain bright light and evenly moist soil with the avoidance of direct sunlight or cold draughts. Wrap the pot (& foliage) in a transparent bag or within a miniature greenhouse, and provide bottom heat of temperatures above 18°C  (54°F).  Remove the bag and place into individual 7cm pots once the second new leaf emerges. Follow the same care routines, as mentioned in the article's top half. This method will take up to five months, so patience and the correct environment are paramount for success!


Flowers

Winter Cherry plants will produce clusters of small white flowers from mid-summer onwards, with each bloom lasting two weeks once opened. If pollination is successful, the once orange-tipped white flowers will slowly emerge into orange globular berries, staying fresh on the plant for at least a further three weeks. Scroll up to 'Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers' to learn more about achieving yearly blooms. 


Repotting

Repot every three years in the spring, using a 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Winter Cherries are far better potbound for several years due to the heightened risk of root rot and repotting-issues (like transplant shock), so only repot if you feel it's wholly necessary - restricted root growth will also increase the chance of blooms, too.

Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those situated in a darker location, introduce an extra amount of perlite and grit into the deeper portion of the pot to downplay over-watering risks. Click on this link for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for whitefly, spider mites, thrips, aphids & mealybugs. Common diseases with Winter Cherries are root or crown rot, powdery mildew, leaf-spot disease, botrytis petal blight and powdery mildew. For more info on how to address any of these issues, hit this link - Identifying Common Houseplant Viruses & Diseases.


Toxicity

This species is considered poisonous if consumed by pets and humans. If high quantities are eaten, it may result in vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite. The berries are also widely known to be poisonous, so always be cautious when considering purchasing this plant. 


Retail Locations

Some florists & Online Stores. Specimens are likely to be found in autumn at most garden centres. A small selection of Winter Cherries are sold during the spring and summer but generally won't last as long as those sold later in the year. It's not advised to bring outdoor specimens inside as this could lead to environmental shock or the introduction of foreign pests into the home.



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