In the culture of indoor plant growing, ground cover is far from being so in demand and loved as in gardens and park areas. But those of them, which nevertheless settled in flower pots, became truly the stars of home plant collections. A unique and bright indoor ground cover – nertera flower.
It is not often possible to see its bright and dense bush-pillow with berries-beads scattered over it on the windowsill, but it is impossible to pass by and not admire. In terms of the number of home-grown fruits, nertera can compete for the title of champion. Of course, all this beauty requires competent care and a lot of trouble, but it’s worth it.
General description with photo
Nertera, which received the second name “coral moss”, belongs to the madder family and is a highly decorative evergreen ground cover. It looks especially charming during fruiting, when a soft, undersized curtain is covered with a large number of glassy berries of a bright orange-red color, which have an external resemblance to cherry tomatoes but are smaller in size. The place of natural growth of the plant is the Caribbean and the tropics of South America.
The nertera leaves are small and round in shape. They can be both seated and short-peted. Stems lodging, creeping on the surface. Flowering begins by the end of May but does not represent a great decorative effect. The buds are small and inconspicuous, whitish in color. But after that, in their place, numerous fruits begin to ripen, which, without crumbling, remain hanging, or rather, stand on the bushes until the very next spring. With good care on home-grown nertera, the berries ripen so much that their scattering almost completely covers the green crown. In the open field, the plant is used for landscaping mini-landscapes, but only in warm regions due to its natural thermophilicity.
Important! Nertera berries are not edible! Their toxicity should be taken into account in relation to domestic animals, which should not have access to this flower, and even more so, they should be out of the reach of children.
How long does nertera live?
The life span of this plant is rather short. Despite the fact that it is considered a perennial, they sell and therefore buy it most often at the height of fruiting. And when it ends, the plant is most often thrown away, because they do not know how to preserve it and make it bloom and bear fruit again. This requires anti-aging division, which will be discussed below.
There is no Christian legend behind nertera, however, this plant is classified as a Christmas flower crop due to the fact that it retains its festive and decorative appearance in December, when the main decorative deciduous and spectacularly blooming and fruiting indoor crops are immersed in a state of dormancy. At the same time, coral moss fits perfectly into New Year’s and Christmas interiors.
Alas, most likely due to the perception associated with seasonal holidays, this wonderful plant is very often thrown away after the end of festive events, like the equally famous flower called the “Christmas star”.
Varieties with photos
The genus of nertera is not very diverse, there are only a few plant species, of which only three are grown at home – nertera granadenzis, pressed and blackberry. Their external differences are very insignificant.
The native land of the species is South America. Leaves on creeping thin shoots are opposite, small in size and neatly rounded. Flowering is short-lived and inconspicuous. The flowers of a whitish-lunar color are soon replaced by berries, which gradually change their color from white to yellow, and then to bright orange. One bush can give a low ground cover crown of up to 40 cm, when the seedlings are planted close in the open field, a dense soft curtain is formed, which is completely covered with multi-colored or orange ripe fleshy berries the size of large chickpeas.
The most famous variety of this variety is “Minestrone”, which is the smallest of all varietal and species lines.
It is most widespread in Mexico, but it can also be found on the territory of other states in the region. It is one of the most commonly grown varieties as a houseplant. The size of an adult bush can reach half a meter in diameter, remaining very low, no more than 10 cm from the ground. Leaves are very small, 5-7 mm, with small petioles. The most famous variety of this variety is Astrid nertera, most often it can be found on sale in specialized stores. The Astrid variety yields the largest number of coral-colored fruits and is valued for its high decorative effect, which sometimes persists until spring. Also widely known in the ornamental gardening variety nertera “Mix”, characterized by scattered ripening periods of berries,
The rarest species available for home cultivation. It is characterized by the black color of ripe berries, the size of which does not exceed 1 cm. This species looks amazing, however, it is the most capricious to care for.
Nertera is successfully used to create decorative compositions in florariums.
Nertera is considered not the easiest indoor flower to grow, so you should tune in to the exact observance of its requirements.
Bright, but not direct sunlight or artificial lighting is needed for the plant to feel comfortable and bear multiple fruits. If the pot is on a windowsill, it should be protected from scorching rays with a light curtain or transparent tracing paper on the glass. In open field conditions, it feels great in partial shade. Since fruiting continues in autumn and winter, the flower requires additional lighting in conditions of short daylight hours. With a lack of light, its thin stems stretch out, the berries fall off and the decorativeness of the culture suffers.
If nertera grows at home, then if there is a garden plot, it can be taken outside during the warm season, and in the absence of wind and under a little protection from the sun, it can be placed on a balcony or loggia.
Coral moss does not like intense heat, fleeing from it in the wild under the shade of large-sized trees on wet soil. During the active growing season, the optimum temperature is + 22C. With the onset of autumn, cooler conditions are required, usually no more than + 15C. In addition, the nertera is very fond of fresh air; ventilation should not be neglected, however, cold drafts should be avoided.
The transfer of a flower to the street with the onset of warm spring days has a very beneficial effect on future flowering. But, as soon as ovaries appear on the branches, it must be returned to a warmer place.
Watering and humidity
Watering nertera requires moderation and regularity. Do not water the flower until the topsoil is dry. It is desirable to provide moisture access with the bottom feed into the pallet. With the onset of winter, watering should be reduced, but the temperature should be consistent with the recommended. Temperature, in turn, must always be in the correct ratio with air humidity. You can not keep the plant in the cold with high humidity and vice versa. With the appearance of the first spring leaves, you should gradually return to the usual watering regime.
Requirements for air humidity are high. But it is possible to spray the curtain only in the absence of flowering and fruiting.
The soil needs light, nutritious, loose. It should easily allow air and water to pass through; an additional factor for easy removal of excess water will be a drainage layer.
Top dressing is applied only in the warm season. Ideally, it should be a mineral balanced liquid complex for flowering crops. Fertilize the plant during the growing season, preferably monthly. With the onset of autumn, the nutritional supply of the flower must be stopped for good rest.
They begin to transplant in the spring, even before the flower buds begin to swell. However, experienced growers did not notice much difference between transplanting after a dormant period and immediately after the end of flowering.
For the root system of the plant, a low and wide capacity will be most suitable and comfortable. But do not forget that part of its height will be “eaten” by the drainage layer.
After transplanting, it is impossible to compact the soil around the roots. You need to wait until it settles naturally, and then add earth if necessary.
Reproduction of nertera
You can propagate a ground cover using seeds, which are easy to get from ripe fruits. In addition, methods of vegetative cuttings and bush division are available.
Planting by seeds
The best time to plant nertera seeds is February-March. Seed germination occurs slowly and takes 1 to 3 months. For sowing, use a wide container with a high-quality drainage system. The soil mixture is used special ready-made (intended for growing seedlings) or made up of a mixture of leafy soil with peat with the addition of coarse sand. Surface sowing for this culture is undesirable due to the large size of the seeds, but it is strongly discouraged to bury them. After germination, the seedlings must be protected from direct exposure to sunlight. It is best to plant freshly harvested seeds that will sprout by next summer.
Propagation by cuttings
For planting and rooting, apical cuttings are used, which should be cut from young shoots that are not yet ready to bloom. Their rooting is easy, so for this it is enough to place their ends in a jar of water. After the appearance of the first roots, one should not tighten too much with a transplant into the ground in order to minimize trauma to the root system. For the first couple of weeks, watering is done by spraying the soil (until it is completely moistened) or from below, and then you can switch to normal care, similar to the agrotechnology of growing adult specimens.
Dividing the bush
This procedure makes it possible not only to get new plants but also to extend the life of the planted specimen since otherwise, it will most likely die after flowering and fruiting. The rejuvenating division of the bush is carried out after all the berries have fallen off. This period is critical for the plant. Dividing is a mechanical process of dividing a bush taken out of a pot into several parts. It is not recommended to make them too small, since the adaptation period will be difficult, and the decorativeness of the resulting specimens will leave much to be desired. When dividing, the roots are not cut with sharp instruments but are carefully torn by hand. Transplantation into new containers is carried out immediately into an already prepared moistened substrate.
Diseases and pests
Nertera is not susceptible to infectious diseases and fungal viruses, but it can create problems due to thickened planting and violations of agricultural practices. Of the insect pests, the most frequent uninvited guests for this ground cover are the mealybug and whitefly, and in conditions that are too dry and hot, the spider mite. Traditional methods of combating them with the help of industrial insecticides are used. However, countermeasures are determined on the basis of the real picture of the defeat from the use of folk recipes to the complete and hasty destruction of the plant in order to avoid spreading to neighboring crops.