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medium-sized, evergreen shrub, native to southern Africa. The species in nature reaches 4-5 meters in height, the varieties cultivated in Europe are of more modest dimensions, and remain below two meters, there are also dwarf cultivars that do not exceed 100-150 cm in height. It has a roundish habit, very dense and branched; the stems are smooth, generally bearing numerous sharp spines, but there are cultivars without thorns; the foliage is shiny and thick, oval in shape, and a bright dark green color. From spring to winter the carisse produce numerous white, star-shaped, waxy flowers, delicately scented; in summer the flowers follow small green, oval fruits, which grow to the size of large plums, and when ripe they become fuchsia red. The plants of carissa macrocarpa are poisonous, both the leaves and the latex produced by the wood; the ripe fruits are instead edible, and have a delicate flavor of strawberries or sweet currant.
Carissa macrocarpa plants prefer sunny locations, but can also withstand slightly shady locations, even if poor lighting causes poor flowering. These plants fear frost, especially if prolonged, so they are grown in a place sheltered from the wind and frost; in areas with very cold winters it is advisable to cultivate the carissa macrocarpa in pot, so that it can be moved in a cold greenhouse, or in a sheltered place, during the winter. There are some particularly cold-resistant cultivars, which can be grown in the open ground even in the regions of northern Italy. These shrubs do not fear the salinity and the sea wind, therefore they can also be cultivated on the coasts.
As for the supply of water to the Natal plum plants from March to October, it is advisable to water only when the soil is well dry; these shrubs endure without problems even prolonged periods of drought. During the winter months water must be supplied only sporadically, on days when temperatures are quite mild.
Check that no dangerous water stagnation forms on the ground, which can compromise the health of the plant.
In nature the Natal plum plants grow in the woods on the coastal dunes and, for this reason, the ideal type of substrate is that composed of sandy soils, very well drained, that do not retain moisture. An enemy of plant development and health is, in fact, the formation of stagnant water that can cause the onset of root rot and cause suffering to the plant.
The propagation of Natal plum plants occurs by seed or cuttings; variety with a particular habit or colored foliage should be multiplied exclusively by cuttings in late spring, using portions of semilignified branches, planted in a container to allow proper rooting and subsequent transplantation into the final location.
Plum of Natal - Carissa macrocarpa: Pests and diseases
The plum of Natal particularly fears the attack of the cochineal. When you see the symptoms of a possible attack by parasites and diseases it is good to promptly intervene with targeted treatments carried out with special products available on the market, so as to effectively counter the problem.