Pot plants: Pernettya

Pot plants: Pernettya

Classification, origin and description

Common name: Pernettya.
Kind: Pernettya.

Family: Ericaceae.

provenance: Central-South America.

Genre description: about 170 species of deciduous or evergreen shrubs originating in Central and Southern America belong to this genus. Very widespread as a potted plant for colored berries, today it is also appreciated as an evergreen garden wallpaper.

Pernettya macrocarpa (photo

Pernettya (website photo)

Pernettya (website photo)

Species and varieties

Pernettya macrocarpa : it is the most cultivated species, as a shrubby plant. native of southern america, in nature it can reach the full development of the shape of a spherical bush of comparable height and diameter, between 100 and 120 cm. Today the most cultivated varieties are dwarf or very small in size, around 30 cm. It looks like a bush with thick vegetation, with erect-bearing branches, covered with small leaves, pointed at the ends, oval or lanceolate. The color is intense green, the surface always shiny. the flowers are white, bell-shaped, small and with five-lobed corolla, similar to those of the heather, present in the axil of the leaves in large numbers, gathered in clusters and appear in June. However, flowers are not the most decorative element. It is at the beginning of autumn that the plants are covered with colored berries capable of resisting throughout the winter. Waxy to the touch, irregular spherical shape, slightly flattened, white to purple in color depending on the variety.

Pernettya pumila: it has a limited height, between 15 and 30 cm, with prostrate bearing.

Pernettya prostrata: native to Chile and Venezuela, it has poisonous black or dark blue fruits.

Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions

Temperature: it resists cold well and can be planted all over Italy outside the high mountains.
Light: they are adaptable plants that grow well even in a shaded position, as long as it is bright. Other things being equal, however, the subjects placed in the sun produce many more fruits.
Watering and environmental humidity: wet, even during the winter, as long as the temperatures do not drop below freezing, in moderation, but continuously, so as to always keep the soil slightly damp. In summer bathe abundantly as long as there are no stagnations. Do not use hard but soft or acidulated water to keep the soil acidity constant over time.
Substrate: the ideal soil must be light, rich in organic matter, especially peat, fertile and acid reaction. In calcareous soils it is difficult and growth stops.
Special fertilizations and tricks: use a fertilizer for acidophilic plants, usually marketed as a product for hydrangeas, rhododendrons and azaleas, from spring to autumn, once every 15 days, diluted in the wetting water.

Multiplication and pruning

Pruning is not normally required except to maintain the shape of the plants. Older, elongated and out of shape branches shorten at the end of winter. This also stimulates the release of new lateral branches.

To obtain plants identical to the mother, in September 5 cm long cuttings are obtained to be placed in a mix of sand and peat, in a cold container. In spring, the cuttings that have managed to root are placed in single jars with acid soil for a year, after another two in the nursery can be transplanted into the garden.

Their slow growth advises not to put them in competition with more lively plants capable of suffocating them by removing their space, light and nourishment.

Diseases, pests and adversities

There are no particular diseases or pests reported. Due to water stagnation, it can manifest radical rot and deteriorate.

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