Jerusalem cherry: properties and care


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) care: tips for overwintering and propagation. We also provide information on the toxicity and flowering of the Jerusalem cherry.

Solanum pseudocapsicum with ripe fruits
With its littler red fruits, the Jerusalem cherry plant brings a pop of colour as a houseplant [Photo: shpakdm/]

During the cold season, when it becomes drab and uncomfortable outside, the bright fruits of the Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) offer a colourful change from the drab grey outside the front door. The tropical plant is not only a real eye-catcher in the winter half of the year, but also shows a pretty floral dress in summer.

Jerusalem cherry: origin and properties

Originally from tropical Central and South America, the Jerusalem cherry reached central Europe as early as the 16th century. This dwarf shrub belongs to the nightshade genus (Solanum), so it is closely related to tomato, chili and potato.

Jerusalem cherry plants grow up to one metre tall and are evergreen. Their leaves are elongated and very similar to those of chili plants. The one to two centimetre-large fruits that turn from yellow to red-orange during ripening, are a distinctive feature.

Ripe and unripe Jerusalem cherries
Depending on the degree of ripeness, christmas cherry plant berries are yellow, orange or red [Photo: krolya25/]

Are Jerusalem cherries poisonous?

Like many solanaceous plants, Jerusalem cherries contain a poisonous alkaloid. The solanocapsin contained in the berries is toxic and similar to solanine, which is widely known from green potatoes. Therefore, the fruits of the Jerusalem cherry are not edible. Consumption can even cause gastrointestinal problems – such as diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea. Fortunately, the poison is not life-threatening, but it is extremely unpleasant.

It is best to keep the plant out of reach of children, because the small red berries look like cherry tomatoes and could therefore be particularly enticing to curious children.

Jerusalem cherry: flowering time

Jerusalem cherries bloom in summer, usually starting in June. The white flowers with yellow stamens are strongly reminiscent of the flowers of potatoes or tomatoes, to which the Jerusalem cherry is also closely related. If you keep your Jerusalem cherry indoors year-around, you should shake the plant gently from time to time during flowering to encourage pollination. This is because only pollinated flowers will later develop into fruit.

Small white Jerusalem cherry flower
Solanum pseudocapsicum flowers are very similar to those of potato and tomato plants [Photo: Iva Villi/]

Planting Jerusalem cherry

The Jerusalem cherry is not hardy and does not tolerate frost. For this reason, it can not be planted in the ground outdoors in our country, but is excellent as a potted plant. During the summer, it likes to be outside in the sun, but should definitely be brought indoors in a relatively warm place.

The best time to plant and repot is in spring, after the fruits have fallen. Ordinary garden soil is an ideal substrate.

Plant care

Most often, Jerusalem cherries are only grown during the cold season and then disposed of. However, Jerusalem cherries can grow up to ten years old. So perennial cultivation not only pleases the plant, but also makes much more sense in terms of resources. While young Jerusalem cherries can be obtained cheaply, but use a lot of energy and resources in their production. However, caring for this undemanding plant is rather simple.

Pruning Jerusalem cherry shrubs

After the plant has lost its fruits, it is ready for pruning. Simply prune the plant so that it remains nice and compact. However, make sure not to prune it too late. Because if you accidentally cut the buds and remove flowers, you will not get any fruit this year.


Jerusalem cherries do not require excessive fertilisation. For the sake of the environment, it is best to use predominantly organic fertilisers with a slow-release effect, such as our Plantura Tomato Food. This provides your Jerusalem cherry with an optimal nutrient ratio and ensures optimal fruit development with its high potassium content. Simply add a little fertiliser to the pot in the spring and work it in gently.

Tomato Food, 1.5kg
Tomato Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for tomatoes, chillies, courgettes, cucumber & more
  • For healthy plants & an abundant tomato harvest
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Propagating Jerusalem cherry

Propagation of the Jerusalem cherries is quite simple. The fastest way, of course, is propagation by cuttings. To do this, use the branches clipped during spring pruning and remove the leaves from the lower part of the branches. Now you just need to put the finished cuttings in moist potting soil and wait. Keep the soil moist and the cuttings will soon take root and develop into independent Jerusalem cherry plants.

However, sowing Jerusalem cherries is also possible and relatively simple. You can either sow fresh or dried seeds. These are best sown between mid-December and the end of February. Fruit will develop in the second or third year.

Seeds in a Jerusalem cherry
A Madeira winter cherry can easily be propagated by seed [Photo: Dr. Norbert Lange/]

Overwintering Jerusalem cherries

Jerusalem cherries should be overwintered in a relatively warm place. The plants feel particularly comfortable at temperatures between 12 and 15 °C. These cool temperatures promote fruit set and colouration of the fruits. The location should be as bright as possible, because lack of light can lead to leaf drop. When overwintering indoors, it is possible that aphids (Aphidoidea) may become a problem, as the plants can be weakened by unfavourable overwintering conditions.

During the winter, you should not fertilise your Jerusalem cherry and should also slightly reduce watering. Nevertheless, water the plant regularly, so that the soil does not dry out completely. However, keep in mind that less water is evaporated at cooler temperatures.