Physalis peruviana

Family: Solanaceae

Countries: Americas, Bolivia, Brazil, South America

Physalis peruviana is a tender, herbaceous perennial plant that produces absolutely delicious tasting orange berries, which are quite exquisitely wrapped in these gorgeous papery lanterns.  Also known as Cape Gooseberries, Ground Cherries, or Inca Berries, Physalis peruviana is a lovely plant, with a slightly shrubby habit.

I find that Physalis peruviana plants don’t grow very tall.  Physalis peruviana plants eventual height depends on the seed the plant was grown from, as well as the plant’s age, and the overall growing conditions the plant has enjoyed.  The Physalis peruviana plants that I’ve grown haven’t grow any taller than 1.5m (5ft); many of my plants have been shorter than this – they’ve generally ranged from 0.9m (3ft) to 1.2m (4ft).

Physalis peruviana are tender plants that need warm growing conditions; they can be grown from seeds started in a glasshouse or a heated propagator.  In the UK, I find the best time to sow Physalis peruviana seeds is from February to March, but you can sometimes get away with sowing seeds in April, it depends on the weather and the growing season.  Earlier sowings tend to do better, as our aim is to obtain ripe fruit and plants require sufficient time to mature, flower and ripen their fruits.

When growing Physalis peruviana, remember that these plants need to be grown in a bright and sunny location.  Sow Physalis peruviana seeds in containers of good quality, peat-free compost.

In early summer, when all risk of frost has passed (in the UK, this tends to be from the end of May to the middle of June), Physalis peruviana plants can be hardened off and planted directly outside.  I find that these fruits are very happy growing in free draining soils; Physalis peruviana thrives in my sandy soil.

Choose a sheltered position for your Physalis peruviana plants, as these plants may be damaged by harsh winds.  Plants may benefit from some support, but this is not an onerous or ongoing task.  Avoid waterlogged soils; if your soil tends to be wet, grow Physalis peruviana in containers of good quality, peat-free compost.

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