Natal plum - carissa sp.
General information: An evergreen, small
thorny bush which develops white and pink flowers and
edible, dark red fruit. There is little information on
this plant in the bonsai literature, which is
surprising, as it is readily available and becoming
quite popular. In
addition, Natal plum is a strong plant which tolerates
almost any abuse. It can be grown under almost any
conditions (except freezing cold), but when grown under
optimum conditions of high heat and humidity, growth is
extremely rapid and the rooting of cuttings an almost
Lighting: Likes plenty of light, at least
four hours of direct sunlight daily.
Temperature: Needs warmth in winter. Prefers
night temperatures between 50-65F and day temperatures
of 68F or higher. Can successfully be grown indoors, but
the use of a nearby fan to reduce the likelihood of
fungal infestation is recommended.
Watering: Moderate. When grown indoors, use
of a moisture tray to maintain humidity is recommended.
Feeding: Every two weeks during growth, using
Miracid. Reduce feeding to monthly during winter.
Pruning and wiring: Do major pruning in mid
to late spring, after flowering. Do not prune all the
green foliage off a branch, as this will cause the
branch to die back. Otherwise, buds back with vigor.
Continue to prune as necessary during growth. Carissa
grows rapidly, especially in hot climates, so pruning
may be frequent. These trees make good informal uprights
or cascades. Older branches can be brittle, so use
caution when wiring. Check wiring often, due to the
rapid growth of the plant.
Propagation: Roots readily from cuttings,
especially lignified ones. Will root when placed in a
glass of water.
Repotting: Lesniewicz recommends
transplanting in fall or winter only, but posters to RAB
indicated that repotting in mid-spring to midsummer is
OK. Keep root pruning to a minimum. Use fast draining
soil. Limit water until the plant is firmly established
to reduce risk of root rot.
Pests and diseases: Prone to fungal
infestation. Spider mites and scale are occasional
problems. On the whole, a very strong plant.