The coral berry is a small evergreen shrub which hails from Southeast Asia, China and Japan. It grows to 1-1.8 m in height and enjoys our mild climate. Its main attraction is the whorled layers of rich red (or more rarely, creamy-white) berries which appear amongst its lush tiers of leaves in autumn, following small, white flowers in late spring and summer. The berries last throughout winter, and unusually for a berried shrub it enjoys a shaded position with rich soil. There is a cultivar called 'Variegata' that has a narrow margin on its leaves: red on fresh foliage but turning white as they mature.
Ardisia is an undemanding plant and a good companion for shade-loving plants with red flowers, such as Camellia japonica, bromeliad species and cultivars, and Salvia splendens, where it will provide an interesting contrast of form. The version with creamy-white berries looks effective nearby the cream-coloured version of poinsettia, in bloom at the same time. Propagation is by stem cuttings taken in autumn or spring. Sometimes you may find seedlings growing nearby from the fallen berries. The berries are useful for flower arrangements.