How to grow Cape Gooseberry

Physalis peruviana

Location: The plant likes a sunny, frost-free location, sheltered from strong winds. It does well planted next to a south-facing wall (in the Northern hemisphere) or in a patio.

Soil: The cape gooseberry will grow in any well drained soil but does best on sandy to gravelly loam. Very good crops are obtained on rather poor sandy ground.

Irrigation: The plant needs consistent watering to set a good fruit crop, but can’t take “wet feet”. Where drainage is a problem, the plantings should be on a gentle slope or the rows should be mounded. Irrigation can be cut back when the fruits are maturing. The plants become dormant during drought.

Fertilization: The cape gooseberry seems to thrive on neglect. Even moderate fertilizer tends to encourage excessive vegetative growth and to depress flowering. High yields are attained with little or no fertilizer.

Pruning: Very little pruning is needed unless the plant is being trained to a trellis. Pinching back of the growing shoots will induce more compact and shorter plants.

Frost Protection: In areas where frost may be a problem, providing the plant with some overhead protection or planting them next to a wall or a building may be sufficient protection. Individual plants are small enough to be fairly easily covered during cold snaps by placing plastic sheeting, etc. over a frame around them. Plastic row covers will also provide some frost protection for larger plantings. Potted specimens can be moved to a frost-secure area. Young growth at the ends of the branches is particularly susceptible to frost damage.

Growing Cape gooseberry from seed

There are 5,000 to 8,000 seeds per ounce, which are sometimes mixed with pulverized soil or ashes for uniform sowing. High humidity is required for good germination.
The plants can also be propagated from 1 year old stem cuttings treated with a rooting hormone. Plants grown this way flower early and yield well but are less vigorous than seedlings.

Transplanting Cape gooseberry

In India, plants 6 to 8 in (15-20 cm) high are set out 18 in (45 cm) apart in rows 3 ft (0.9 m) apart. Farmers in South Africa space the plants 2 to 3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) apart in rows 4 to 6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) or even 8 ft (2.4 m) apart in very rich soil. They apply 200 to 400 lbs (90-180 kg) of complete fertilizer per acre (approx. = kg/ha) on sandy loam. Foliar spraying of 1% potassium chloride solution before and just after blooming enhances fruit quality.1

Cape gooseberry is tender, so ensure you wait until all danger of frost has passed in your area before considering planting outside - as a guideline, the minimum temperature outside should be approximately 3°C / 37°F.

Harvesting Cape gooseberry

In rainy or dewy weather, the fruit is not picked until the plants are dry. Berries that are already wet need to be lightly dried in the sun. The fruits are usually picked from the plants by hand every 2 to 3 weeks, although some growers prefer to shake the plants and gather the fallen fruits from the ground in order to obtain those of more uniform maturity. At the peak of the season, a worker can pick 2 1/2 bushels (90 liters) a day, but at the beginning and end of the season, when the crop is light, only 1/2 bushel (18 liters).

A single plant may yield 300 fruits. Seedlings set 1,800 to 2,150 to the acre (228-900/ha) yield approximately 3,000 lbs of fruit per acre (approx. = kg/ha). The fruits are usually dehusked before delivery to markets or processors. Manual workers can produce only 10 to 12 lbs. (4.5-5.5 kg) of husked fruits per hour. Therefore, a mechanical husker, 4 to 5 times more efficient, has been designed at the University of Hawaii.1

How long does Cape gooseberry take to grow?

These estimates for how long Cape gooseberry takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.

Days to Germination How long does it take Cape gooseberry to germinate?
11 days

Average 11 days | Min 5 days | Max 27 days (22)

Days to Transplant How long until I can plant out Cape gooseberry?
+ 16 days

Average 16 days | Min 5 days | Max 80 days (6)

Days to Maturity How long until Cape gooseberry is ready for harvest / bloom?
+ 120 days

Average 120 days | Min 46 days | Max 261 days (32)

Total Growing Days How long does it take to grow Cape gooseberry?
= 147 days

Cape gooseberry Etymology

Various species of Physalis have been subject to much confusion in literature and in the trade. A species which bears a superior fruit and has become widely known is the cape gooseberry, P. Peruviana L. (P. edulis Sims). It has many colloquial names in Latin America: capuli, aguaymanto, tomate sylvestre, or uchuba, in Peru; capuli or motojobobo embolsado in Bolivia; uvilla in Ecuador; uvilla, uchuva, vejigón or guchavo in Colombia; topotopo, or chuchuva in Venezuela; capuli, amor en bolsa, or bolsa de amor, in Chile; cereza del Peru in Mexico. It is called cape gooseberry, golden berry, pompelmoes or apelliefie in South Africa; alkekengi or coqueret in Gabon; lobolobohan in the Philippines; teparee, tiparee, makowi, etc., in India; cape gooseberry or poha in Hawaii.1

Other names for Cape gooseberry

Physalis, Ground-cherry, Golden berry, Uchuva, Inca berry, Uvilla, Peruvian goldenberry, Husk cherry, Peruvian ground cherry, Poha, Poha berry, Aztec berry, Horse tomato, Physalis peruviana

Physalis edulis Sims, Physalis esculenta Salisbury

Misspellings: Cape Goose Berry


1 entry for Physalis

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