Physalis Peruviana aka Cape Gooseberry Is Easy To Grow In The UK. It Requires Little Effort & No Expertise If You follow This Simple Advice.

This Is How To Grow Physalis Peruviana aka Cape Gooseberry In A Few Easy Steps.

What Is Physalis Peruviana aka Cape Gooseberry?

Often called a Cape Gooseberry or Inca berries Physalis is an intriguing fruit that doesn’t come from Cape Town or anywhere near it. But I’ve explained that in a previous post on unusual veg that can be grown in the UK. And there’s the second error that is often made. Physalis isn’t a veg, it’s a fruit. Hence the name Inca berries.

And the word Inca gives us a second clue about the plant’s origin. It is from Peru, the home of the Incas. But it’s also found in Colombia and a few other South American countries.

What Does Physalis Peruvian Look Like?

The ripe fruit is an almost perfect sphere. It’s bright orange and it sits in a “cloak like” mantle of dried calyx, what looks like a husk.

Cape Gooseberry aka Physalis peruviana
Cape Gooseberry aka Physalis peruviana

The fruit starts green though and goes yellow before ripening to orange. Sometimes the fruit are called orange lanterns because the fruit seem to shine through the lantern like calyx. But true lanterns are a related species and inedible.

As for the plant. It is a sprawling straggly but dense plant. Most people know it a a smallish annual plant that is grown in the greenhouse. Here is might get to a metre or so high and almost as wide. But where I grow it in Devon it is perennial and a large spreading plant several metres wide, though rarely taller than about a metre.

How To Grow Inca Berries?

The easiest way is start with seed the first time. Germinate it in a pot in a warm place much as you would tomatoes or peppers. March is a good time to start the seed. Pot on as needed and once the frost passes plant them outside or in a greenhouse. they only reason to leave them until the frost passes is that they will be soft grown and the cold might damage them until they acclimatise. You could harden them off in the conventional way though.

Feed them if you like, though mine gets no feed and seems to thrive. If I were to feed them I’d use a high potash feed such as used of tomatoes.

Cape Gooseberry aka Physalis peruviana. Outdoors in the UK Physalis peruviana is a large straggly perennial plant
Outdoors in the UK Physalis peruviana is a large straggly perennial plant

The downside of growing Cape gooseberries is the mount of space they take up. So give them plenty of space when you transplant them

In subsequent years just prune the plant back to about 6 inches in early spring. This encourages fresh growth and keep the plant under control.

Any fruit that hasn’t been picked will drop in winter and will readily self seed. We had a plague of new plants until I took a hoe to them!

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2 thoughts on “How To Grow Physalis Peruviana aka Cape Gooseberry 

  1. Diet van TUIL says:

    Stefan, one thing I would like to ask and one to add.
    First: I cannot find out what you mean by scubas. Googling only gets me to scuba diving and I am certified for that, so no mysteries there. It might be a typo, but not being British, I can’t make sense out of it.
    Second, it might help newbies to add that no pickle g is required; just gather them from where the berries have fallen. For jam, pop your bits of harvest into the freezer untill you have enough to make as much as you like. That’s two suggestions, I realize and of course it is up to you to use them
    Sincerely, Diet (pronounce Deet) van Tuil (unpronounceable by non-Dutch)

    1. Stefan Drew says:

      Hi Diet, Firstly my apology for the misleading word .. scubas. Indeed it means to scuba dive and like you I am a qualified diver from many years ago (BSAC trained). But in this case it is a autocorrect typo and should say such as. For some reason I frequently get this correction and missed this one! AS it is a word in English the spellcheck misses it .. and frequently I do as well. I will correct it now.

      And I agree no pickling is required. How much detail I add to each post is limited by the word count and my time. It’s so easy to keep writing and writing without a break .. so I try to keep to the essentials as I see them that day.


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