Eugenia/Syzygium sp.

the brush cherries

A sub-tropical evergreen, with dark green ovate leaves formed in pairs. In spring, may bear small white flowers followed by red, edible fruit. With the exception of jaboticaba, Eugenia species have red, flaking bark. Surinam cherry is used extensively as a hedge plant in the Southern US.


Appreciates a bright position, about 1500 Lux, but can tolerate low light. If placed outdoors in summer, can usually tolerate full sun, although partial shade is recommended in the hottest areas.


Never below 30F. Generally hardy in zones 9-10, otherwise can sucessfully be grown indoors. In summer, Eugenia likes the heat, while it prefers winter temperatures between 46-68F. Eugenia does not like draughts or a lot of variation in temperature.


Generously in summer, less in winter. Surinam cherry does not like variations in watering, preferring a consistantly slight moisture to being soaked and allowed to dry out. Lesniewicz recommends that Australian Brush cherry dry a little between waterings, but some posts testify that it will drop leaves if the soil dries. Eugenia needs humidity, so misting can be beneficial. Use distilled/rain water if your water is hard, as Eugenia does not tolerate salt.


Every 2 weeks during heavy growth, and every 4-5 in winter. Eugenia likes a slightly acid soil, so the occasional use of Miracid is recommended.


Every two years in early to mid-spring. Bottom heat helps to encourage root growth. Use basic bonsai soil, or an acid mix like azalea soil. Will withstand vigorous root pruning: jaboticaba can take up to 2/3 root loss, and while I would not recommend the following as a normal practice, up to 90% root removal has been performed sucessfully on Surinam cherry!


Can be pruned back hard, as it is a vigorous grower. Shorten new shoots with 6-8 pairs of leaves to 1-2 pairs. Can be wired while in active growth, but better shaping results are achieved with pruning. Protect the branches, as they scar easily. Leaf pruning can be done in summer on strong plants, but is not generally advised, as better leaf reduction results from timely pruning, and this plant has relatively small leaves in the first place. It is suitable for all styles, and for all but the largest sizes.


By cuttings in summer, seeds in fall, air-layering.

Pests etc.:

Scale, mealy bug, Caribbean fruit fly, aphids, red spider. May drop leaves if watering is inconsistant. Not salt tolerant.

Some species suitable for bonsai:

================================================================= From: Russ Martin Date: 4 Aug 1996 03:20:25 GMT I've been growing Surinam cherries for 3 or 4 years. They are very easy to care for with the one exception being that scale can be problem but also easy to control. I found the best time for root pruning and potting is July - August in Zone 6 - New England. I just potted up 2 about 3 weeks ago and had cut about 90% of the root off (by accident) leaving only 2 short stubs about 1/2" long. This happened to both trees since their trunks were buried deeply in there pots and didn't expect that. I had to wrap wire around the trunks and pots and place stone against them to keep them upright. I Thought they would never make but 3 weeks later they are firmly rooted in the pots and growing. They seem to handle EXTREME root prunning very well. I also use Peters 20-20-20, Fish Emulsion and Miracid fertilizers every 2 weeks. In the fall I leave them out into the low 50's for a few weeks then bring them in and grow them under fluorecent lights (one cool white and one Grow Lux or equiv.). They seem to do very well over the winter and put on much new growth. The room is kept between 60 and 75 deg. (60 at night). During the summer I keep them in light shade with early morning sun and they are kept moist all year but I do occasionaly let them dry out during the winter. The soil mix I've used is 1/3 coarse sand, 1/3 Terragreen and 1/3 Pine bark. I've recently tried 40% Terragreen and 40% pine bark with 20% Peat. I've also propagated a few from cuttings with good success.