Cape Gooseberry, Physalis - Care and Hibernation

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pysalis cape gooseberry

A tropical climber that has star qualities in terms of growth speed and whose fruits are so small that they ripen even in fairly untropical Germany - should definitely try fans of decorative exotic plants and delicious exotic fruits. Below you will find out that this climbing plant is called Cape Gooseberry or Physalis, how to get such a Physalis plant in vain and how to care for and hibernate this Physalis:

Fact sheet Physalis cultivation

  • The Physalis comes from the South American tropics / southern tropics
  • Grows in the German garden from 10° C soil temperature
  • But needs every available ray of sunshine for good growth
  • Then maybe many Cape Gooseberries can be harvested in Germany
  • Known as "physalis" because the trade sells the fruits under the generic name of the plant
  • With their pretty paper sleeves, the orange balls have long been deco stars, but also delicious and healthy
  • "Maybe be harvested", because Physalis mature with us only under favorable conditions
  • The (even preferred) young plants must be planted as soon as the garden soil is warm enough
  • The sun must shine often and long all summer and fall
  • But the experiment pays, and there are tricks to ripen early harvested fruits
Beforehand helpful: arrange physalis
A cape gooseberry native to South America; delicious physalis recipes and warnings of physalis poison; a fruit called physalis and many plants that bear the word physalis in the name - the subject of physalis can tolerate a little structuring:
1. The cape and the physalis
The Cape of Good Hope is still in Africa, but has been visited by the South American physalis long ago: it was said to have been introduced to Portuguese sailors in South Africa, and they had their best time in the 15th century... At the Cape of Good hope grew the "gooseberry" brought by the foreign guests so well that it was planted on many fields and became the "Cape Gooseberry".
2. poison or not poison

Physalis flower

For people who love their relatives, a crucial physalis question that simply can not be answered clearly positively or negatively simply because the physalis are nightshade plants. It sure rings in your backyard, keyword tomato and potato, of which one should not eat the foliage and no green parts of the fruit, because they contain poisonous solanine.
Exactly the same with the physalis, depending on the species more or less poisonous plant parts (sensitive people react to skin contact) and sometimes fruits that can only be eaten cooked. But Cape gooseberries can be eaten raw, as long as you only eat the berries.
3. Physalis fruit or plant
There are many plants called physalis because "physalis" is the scientific name of the genus. To this genus (bubble cherries, "Physalis" is Greek "bubble") currently include 134 physalis, this is the respective unique species name, the Cape Gooseberry is called z. B. botanically complete "Physalis peruviana".
A fruit called Physalis exists because the fruit of this Cape Gooseberry is usually referred to by the trade "nobly with its generic name" (although with Cape Gooseberry, Andean berry, Andean cherry, Peruvian bladder cherry, Jewish cherry enough German terms are in circulation).

Plant Cape Gooseberries

An absolutely enjoyable feature of the Cape Gooseberry: If you have planted the young plant in the right location, you have thus done the most important part of the care. Above all, this should be a warm and sunny location:
  • Gladly in windbreak and heat reflection of a house wall
  • In any case, in full sun
  • Physalis tolerate direct sunlight even at lunchtime
  • Young plants get used to the sun
  • In the garden trees, hedges, outbuildings can provide the necessary wind protection
  • Planting in warm soils, optimal would be 22° C soil temperature
  • Plant out earlier is possible, from about 16° C, then it must not be colder
  • In addition, the physalis will only properly start growing from 20° C
  • Wait for the ice saint in May in late frost areas
  • Set at a distance of about 80 cm, cultivars are sometimes very vigorous
  • If the soil is warm enough, it should be planted immediately
  • In the spring, check the soil temperature daily:
tip - It can be read again and again that physalis can be pulled in a bucket, even in a pot. You know, a physalis will probably produce masses of green leaves in dark corners in the last potty. But edible fruits will only bring forth sunshine in the local climate when it comes to large tubs that spend the summer season in a cuddly outdoor spot under full sunshine.
If the best location does not have the best soil on the physalis, that's not enough. The young plants like to grow in sparse forests in their homeland, but also easily colonize disturbed sites up to the "ecologically destroyed" ruderal area. The fact that the Physalis are able to plant such precarious sites as Ruderalvegetation (Erstbesiedler), shows the unpretentiousness of the Physalis in relation to the soil conditions.


With a barren garden floor, the Physalis usually gets along well. Physalis in over-fertilized soils or too nutrient-rich natural soils can be a problem because they lay down record-breaking growth, but apparently do not consider necessary flower and fruit formation under such paradisiacal circumstances. They can adjust such soils to a lower nutrient content by planting sufficient amounts of coarse sand before planting.

Prefer physalis or sow directly

The maturation period of the Physalis is actually slightly longer than the necessary heat is available in our climate. With climate change, our climate is approaching ideal physalis conditions, but really tropical warm is currently only in sections and short.
If you plant Physalis directly into the bed as soon as the soil is warm enough (mid-April to mid-May), the first Physalis will spring in mid-October and the last in mid-November. In our climate, even with the post-riff trick described below is not the most successful way to harvest ripe and aromatic physalis.
If you can buy the first commercially available seedlings in friendly regions in the middle of April and immediately put them in a warm garden soil - you lose an average of one month, in which the plants have to get used to fresh air or your garden soil and its microbiotic composition. Bring the first fruits in mid-August; when early autumn cold induces an early harvest, they have to ripen in the house using tricks... Because only mature fruits bear the full aroma, experienced physalis growers prefer the plants indoors to keep them outdoors at the optimum time to be able to sit down. How to proceed:
  • Sow seeds as early as possible
  • In mix of nursery and garden soil or normal potting soil + garden soil + sand
  • The light germs are pressed only lightly on the damp earth, not "buried in the ground"
  • Moisten the soil evenly (not soaking wet)
  • Close the greenhouse cover, cover the pots with foil, etc.
  • If drops of water form, ventilate due to excessive humidity
  • Put on the windowsill above the heater
  • In front of a window, through which the sun shines as much as possible throughout the day
  • Minimum germination temperature 22° C, if necessary to be guaranteed by means of heating mat under the cultivation pot
  • • It takes 8-14 days for seedlings to show up
  • Separate with the appearance of the 2nd pair of leaves (first true leaves after the cotyledons)
  • Choose the strongest young plantlets
  • Shorten the roots delicately so that they branch out better
  • Place young plants without cover in a sunny spot
  • Gradually get used to fresh air until planting

pysalis cape gooseberry

If you started the seed breeding in mid / end of January, you can expect the physalis to be fruitful in July and August / September to have enough flavor to harvest.
You get seeds in the supermarket, just at the best time for the start of breeding the imported commercial fruits have high season and are cheaper than the rest of the year. The more physalis you consume in the winter, the more seedlings you can gain by growing. This type of semen collection is unbeatably cheap and certainly one of the most enjoyable ways for families with children to demonstrate the origin of our food.
In the "direct form of semen collection" you can not select a specific variety, because the Physalis fruits are not traded in varieties. But you could try what your crop will taste like before and know for sure that your seed has not been stained or otherwise treated with any substances whose influences you do not want in your plant. However, ecologically flawless parent plants only guarantee the purchase of seeds in organic quality; These and any other kind of Physalis seeds (+ young plants) can be found on the Internet.

Care Instructions

The prerequisite for a good harvest is that you cultivate the plants until then; which is not very difficult when you get this far:
  • Cape gooseberries really need a lot of water because they grow so fast
  • In a short time 1 to 2 meters high shoots and soon to supply a lot of biomass
  • But quite sensitive to drought
  • The roots of Physalis should never be completely dry
  • Mulching with finely divided organic material helps to prevent this
  • The climbing gears are initially very delicate and thin
  • In this condition, a climbing aid can give support, which also shows the way the plant
That's essentially the case with the physalis, who are usually only cultured for a year (overwintering see below); the low nutrient requirement of the physalis has already been described above in "planting Cape Gooseberries".

Harvest and storage

If (hopefully already in July) many small round balls show up, the hope of harvesting increases - nothing more, because the Cape Gooseberries are still bright green and taste exactly as green as they look. Aroma and healthy ingredients have only enriched when berry skin and inside are beautiful orange, without the slightest touch of green. In our climate, the physalis is "twice prevented" to form this maturity: the sun shows (since 21.06.) Ever shorter on the day, at the latest since the beginning of autumn a quarter of a year later, the temperatures no longer meet the heat requirements of a physalis.

Cape gooseberry plant

If it works and the physalis shows true color, you can for a while healthy nibble fruits directly from the plant (recommended consumption), decorate each dessert with physalis, save from the rest of the seeds for the next season or dry gooseberries and raisins use. If not, perhaps there is something else to save with the following tip:
Physalis do not ripen during storage. At the interface between "fruit on the tree" and "fruit in the fruit bowl" is a trick: If you have to harvest semi-mature physalis, because the night temperatures reach 10° C, the absolute temperature minimum of the plant, "harvest" just the whole branch with fruits and hang them dry and airy. So the fruits hold about two weeks and pull during storage a few nutrients from the shoot. As the fruit is hanging from the end of the shoot, cut away half of the shoot, and in the case of overwintering physalis you anticipate the pruning of the spring shoots.


The Cape Gooseberry can hibernate outdoors from winter hardiness zone 10a. Significantly warmer than ours, in Germany 8a is the warmest winter hardiness zone, the Cape Gooseberry has to overwinter aldo in the bucket:
  • Transplant in time (habituation!)
  • Change over to the house the day before the first frost
  • Just maturing fruits remain on the plant
  • Fruitless or harvested shoots can already reach max. 1/3 are cut back
  • So many big physalis fit in a small winter quarters
  • Location for wintering: bright, at least 10° C warm, optimally 15° C
  • When it is light enough, the physalis overwinters evergreen as in the home
  • When the light is not enough for her, she throws off the leaves and drives her metabolism down to the minimum
  • There is some water in both cases, the leafless physalis evaporates over the shoots but really only "droplets"
Physalis peruviana are offered in some varieties, where no clear favorites can be identified. There should be physalis varieties here, which can hibernate outdoors in ours (in friendly regions, with winter protection), but no reports on German outdoor hibernation can be found. If you can not find a suitable place to spend the winter, you can also root cuttings of the last physalis and hibernate.
Over-wintered tub physalis are cut back (at harvest, at the latest in early spring) by at least half of the shoots, they are all around new drive out in the spring. As a reward for a successful hibernation the Physalis will show the first fruits in the next season already in July...

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