Gaultheria myrsinoides, otherwise known as Cacalote, is a small, low-growing shrub that is native to Central America. It grows in full sun to semi-shade and requires regular watering in order to keep its glossy green leaves healthy and lush. This shrub blooms in late summer, producing clusters of small white to off-white bell-shaped flowers. The fruits of Cacalote come in a varied range of colors, from white to pink, red and even lilac.
As a groundcover and low-growing shrub, Cacalote typically reaches only 2 feet in height, making it an excellent choice for small gardens or courtyard settings. It is also easy to care for, needing only regular pruning and removal of dead leaves and flowers. This shrub is best suited to USDA zones 9-11, as it is mature and cold-hardy at least to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (or -1 degree Celsius) for a short amount of time.
Those who live in colder regions where Cacalote cannot be planted outside can enjoy this plant by growing it in a pot and bringing it indoors during colder months. When watering, ensure that the soil remains damp, especially during the flower-bearing season. When bringing it indoors, avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as that can scorch the leaves and reduce flowering. During the summer, placing the pot outdoors in a sheltered spot can help the plant to thrive and bear more flowers. Regular pruning is also necessary to control the size of the shrub and to encourage robust new growth.