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Ardisia

Marlberry
Primulaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

This genus includes 150 shrub species, but only the two Asian natives (A. crenata and A. japonica) are typically grown. Both are valued for their attractive foliage and ornamental red berries that persist during winter.

Ardisia crenata (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Ardisia crenata (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Ardisia crenata

In warmest frost-free climates, often grown in the ground or in patio planters. Most familiar as a 1 1/2-ft., single-stemmed houseplant; in a large tub, though, it can reach 4 ft. tall and almost that wide. Spirelike clusters of tiny white or pinkish flowers bloom in spring, carried above the shiny, wavy-edged, 3-in.-long leaves. Houseplants require indirect light in summer, several hours of direct sun in winter.

Ardisia japonica ‘Chirimen’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)
Ardisia japonica ‘Chirimen’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)

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Ardisia japonica

Low shrub that spreads by runners to produce a series of upright branches 6–18 in. high. A great groundcover in shade; space plants about 2 ft. apart. Leathery, 4-in.-long, bright green leaves are clustered at tops of branches. White, 1/2-in. flowers, two to six in a cluster, appear in fall.

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