Nertera belongs to the Rubiaceae family. In nature, it is found in the tropics and subtropics of both hemispheres: in South America, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The genus name comes from the Greek nerteros, meaning “low, small”.
Nertera is a perennial creeping plant with creeping stems and small rounded opposite leaves. Nerter flowers are white and bloom in late spring. Then orange-red berries with a diameter of 1 cm appear, thanks to which the plant received the name “coral moss”.
Nerter is considered by many to be a “plant of one season”: as a rule, in winter, nerters grow and lose their decorative effect. However, under optimal conditions, the Nerter plant can live for several years.
Types of nertera
There are not so many types of nertera – in home floriculture, they cultivate mainly nertera pressed, blackberry and granandiz. Below you can see photos of the most common types of nerter.
Nertera pressed (Nertera depressa) has rounded leaves with a diameter of 0.5-0.6 cm. The flowers are very small, greenish-white. In summer, bright orange berries are formed, decorating the plant for several months.
Blackberry Nertera (Nertera nigricarpa) has black fruits.
Nertera granadensis (Nertera granadensis) is distinguished by small (3-7 mm long) lanceolate leaves, located on short petioles (2-4 mm). In early summer, small yellowish-greenish flowers form on the tops of the shoots.
Fruits of orange color remain on the plant all autumn, sometimes even winter.
Its variety – astrid nertera (Nertera granadensis astrid) – forms a particularly large number of berries.
How to care for nertera
Before you take care of the nertera, you need to provide the necessary growing conditions for the plant. To do this, choose a well-lit place with a small amount of sunlight in the morning or evening. In winter, the plant also needs good lighting, otherwise it will grow poorly and bear fruit. In summer they are kept at a temperature not higher than 20°C, in winter the optimum temperature is 10-12°C, but not lower than 7°C. In summer, the plant is taken out into the open air, but protected from direct sunlight and precipitation.
Water abundantly in spring and summer, limited in winter, but the soil should not dry out completely. During the growth period, high humidity is required, the plant is regularly sprayed with soft boiled water at room temperature. This procedure is carried out only before flowering: water should not fall on flowers and berries. The pot with the plant is placed on a pallet with wet expanded clay or moss (the bottom of the pot should not touch the water) to increase the humidity of the air.
Nerter care at home requires regular top dressing; for this, mineral fertilizers are used in half the dose. Feed the plant in the summer once every two weeks.
Transplanted in the spring before flowering into a wide, shallow container with loose and moisture-intensive soil. The soil mixture is prepared from clay and leaf earth and sand, taken in equal quantities. Drainage is required. When transplanting, the earth is not compacted or tamped; it must pass air well.
Nerter is propagated by dividing the bush and seeds. Seeds are sown in January-February in a wide container filled with a substrate consisting in equal parts of leafy soil and peat with the addition of sand. Seeds rarely laid on the soil surface are covered with a thin layer of substrate, moistened with water from a spray bottle and covered with glass. Crops are placed in a warm place (20-22 ° C). Seeds germinate unfriendly and slowly (one to three months). Seedlings are kept on a bright windowsill, avoiding direct sunlight on the plants.
Nerter is propagated by dividing the rhizomes in early summer, after the berries have fallen off. Part of the rhizome is transplanted into a fresh soil mixture prepared from equal parts of soddy, leafy soil, peat and coarse sand. Good drainage is required.
Whiteflies, mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, scale insects harm the plant. Of the diseases, physiological wilting is observed with excessive watering of the plant on the leaves.