How To Grow Cape Gooseberries

They’re on the bottom, however they’re not cherries! This distinctive fruit is within the nightshade household, providing a bit of sweetness and umami taste. Some varieties are sweeter than others, and the “Aunt Molly’s” cultivar is harking back to a pineapple, so that you’ll positively wish to check out a couple of floor cherry plant to see if there’s one you want.

In contrast to the tomatillo plant that floor cherries intently resemble and are associated to, floor cherries develop near the bottom. Ripe floor cherries will fall out of their husks, so that you’ll have to reap them from the bottom. You’ll most likely wish to closely mulch the realm in case you don’t need your fruit on the grime!

Floor cherries are a singular addition to any backyard that it is best to check out in case you haven’t already. Let’s check out learn how to develop these vegetation so you can begin discovering the varieties you want finest.

Fast Care Information

Frequent Title(s) Floor cherries, cape gooseberries, strawberry tomatoes, husk cherries, husk tomatoes, goldenberries
Scientific Title Physalis pruinosa
Days to Harvest 60-75 days
Gentle Full solar
Water 1 inch per week
Soil Loamy, well-draining, pH of 6.0-6.8
Fertilizer Balanced all-purpose fertilizer as wanted
Pests Colorado potato beetles, cutworms, flea beetles, floor cherry leaf beetles, mites, tobacco hornworms, tomato hornworms, whiteflies
Ailments Early blight, verticillium wilt

All About Floor Cherry Vegetation

Physalis pruinosa is a plant associated to tomatillo with a bladder-like outer husk that produces candy fruit.

The paper husks of floor cherries might make you consider Chinese language lanterns, however don’t confuse them with Physalis alkekengi, the plant really referred to as Chinese language lantern! The bottom cherry, Physalis pruinosa, is said to the tomatillo. Its scientific identify means “bladder,” which refers back to the outer husk. Lanterns are actually a greater visible!

The plant is native to the Americas, from the north to the south. They’re perennial vegetation that can come again annually in USDA hardiness zones 8 and better and will be grown as an annual in cooler climates. Begin the seeds indoors in late winter, transplant them exterior within the spring, and also you’ll get fruit in late summer time and into fall. 

The plant is indeterminate and can proceed rising till it dies. In contrast to tomatoes and tomatillos, floor cherries keep near the bottom, so that you’ll want some area to allow them to sprawl.

Folks develop this plant for the ripe fruit that falls to the bottom. Each selection tastes a bit of totally different, however you possibly can count on some sweetness from every one. Some varieties will appear savory, and others might style like fruit with a touch of vanilla! You need to use floor cherry fruits in pies, salsa, jams, and different dishes you would possibly use tomatoes or fruit in.

Sorts of Floor Cherries

Close-up of Aunt Molly's ground cherries on a blurred green background. The plant has large green oval fuzzy leaves with slightly serrated edges. The fruit is small, round, orange in color, covered with a pale orange papery husk.
Completely different forms of floor cherries have distinctive traits.

The Virginia floor cherry is native to the northeastern United States and is without doubt one of the few varieties that could be a perennial right down to zone 6. It’s barely candy, making it a good choice for jams and pies.

Aunt Molly’s is one other candy selection that tastes a bit like pineapple. The husks are a lot rounder than different varieties.

Physalis peruviana is understood by a number of nicknames, like goldenberry, Poha berry, Inca berry, and Peruvian floor cherry. It’s not as candy because the Aunt Molly’s selection, and it has a taller development behavior, reaching as much as 4 toes. The husk comes to a degree on the finish.

Usually referred to as Goldie, Physalis pubescens has smaller fruit than different varieties, however it’s fairly candy and pairs effectively with chocolate.

Physalis grisea is usually nicknamed the strawberry tomato or the gray floor cherry. It’s not as widespread as different varieties, however it’s enjoyable to develop as a result of the tiny little hairs make it look gray.

Planting Floor Cherries

Close-up of young sprouts of Cape Gooseberries plant in a tray, on a light windowsill. The sprouts have pale green hairy stems and small, heart-shaped, slightly fuzzy green leaves.
To develop floor cherries, begin the seeds indoors in a heat, moist surroundings.

Begin floor cherry seeds indoors 6-8 weeks earlier than the final frost. The vegetation want an extended rising season, so it’s good to get a head begin. Plant the seeds ⅛ inch deep and calmly cowl them. The soil must be 70-90°F (21-32°C), and may keep moist to assist the seeds germinate.

The germination course of ought to take 1-3 weeks. You’ll be able to hold your seedlings in a sunny window or use a develop mild to verify they get at the very least 8 hours of sunshine every day.

Transplant seedlings exterior in spite of everything hazard of frost has handed. If you wish to transfer them to a container, select one thing with a drainage gap so extra water can drain out. For finest outcomes, the container must be at the very least 8 inches deep and 12 inches huge.

If you wish to plant your floor cherries exterior, area them 1 ½ – 2 toes aside to allow them to have loads of room to develop. Give them a thick layer of mulch to retain soil moisture, however be certain that the soil is well-draining.


Now that you understand how to start out floor cherry vegetation, let’s discover ways to hold them alive and glad. It’s simple in case you’re capable of give them the precise situations.

Solar and Temperature

Close-up of a ripening Cape Gooseberries in a sunny garden. The plant has oval, green, slightly hairy leaves with pointed tips and small, round fruits covered with green and yellowing papery husks.
Floor cherries want 8 hours of direct daylight each day.

Floor cherries thrive once they obtain about 8 hours of direct daylight every day. A little bit shade in the course of the hottest a part of the day will assist in scorching climates.

Some varieties are finest fitted to scorching climates like zones 8 or larger, whereas some varieties can develop as little as zone 4. No matter which type you’ve got, most floor cherries aren’t tolerant of cool climate and can must be protected if the temperatures dip under 55°F (13°C). 

Whereas they do like heat climate, they begin to battle when temperatures exceed 90°F (32°C).

Water and Humidity

Close-up of Cape Gooseberry plant in raindrops, in the garden, on a blurred background. The plant has hairy green stems and several green maturing fruits covered with a green papery husk with a pointed tip.
Floor cherries require round 1 inch of water per week, relying on daylight, rainfall, and soil.

Floor cherries often want about 1 inch of water per week, however this could differ primarily based on daylight, rainfall, and the way a lot water drains out of your soil. You’ll possible have to water as soon as per day within the peak of summer time.

They don’t actually have any necessities for humidity, however fungal ailments might unfold simpler if the vegetation keep damp.


Close-up of a young Ground Cherry plant in a sunny garden. The plant has low stems with large heart-shaped green leaves, slightly hairy and with pointed tips. The soil is dark brown, loose.
Floor cherries desire loamy, nutrient-rich soil with natural matter.

Give your floor cherries loamy soil that’s wealthy in vitamins, and also you received’t see them complain too typically! Add natural matter like compost or leaf mildew within the spring to provide your vegetation a superb begin.

If there are sufficient vitamins within the soil, you might not need to fertilize them. They like barely acidic soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8.


Close-up of Cape Gooseberries in a sunny garden. This bushy plant has large heart-shaped leaves of green and yellow, and produces small, round fruits covered with a yellow papery husk.
To maintain floor cherries well-fed, use nutritious soil and a balanced all-purpose fertilizer.

Floor cherries will be heavy feeders, which is why it’s so essential to start out them out with nutritious soil. However in case you discover them needing an additional enhance all through the season, give them a balanced all-purpose fertilizer. 

You’ll be able to feed them each 3-4 weeks till they begin fruiting, after which you possibly can swap to each 6 weeks or so. Give them much less nitrogen whereas they’re fruiting so that they’ll give attention to rising fruit as an alternative of leaves.

Pruning & Coaching

Close-up of a gardener touching the ripe fruits of the Ground Cherry plant in a sunny garden. The plant is a tall and lush bush, covered with green, slightly hairy leaves, oval in shape with pointed tips. The plant produces small round fruits covered with a papery green husk. The gardener is dressed in a white panama, a checkered red shirt and a brown apron.
Pruning floor cherry vegetation is elective, however it could make them simpler to handle since they’re indeterminate.

Floor cherry vegetation don’t require pruning to remain wholesome, however you might discover them simpler to handle in case you do since they’re indeterminate.

Since they develop low to the bottom, you might wish to use a trellis to make them stand a bit of taller. Nevertheless, ripened fruit fall off the plant, so you might not need them standing too tall!


Close-up of a male hand lifting a propagation seed pot over a plastic tray with other seedlings of the Ground Cherry plant, on a wooden table, indoors. Seedlings are small, have thin, short, pale green stems and 2-3 tiny, oval, smooth, dark green leaves.
Floor cherries will be propagated by way of seeds and cuttings.

The best strategy to propagate floor cherries is by seed. It can save you seeds by eradicating them from the fruit, washing away the fruit flesh, and permitting them to dry utterly earlier than you retailer them.

Very similar to tomatoes, you possibly can create new vegetation from cuttings. Reduce a stem that’s 4-6 inches lengthy, dip it in rooting powder, and let it sit in a rising medium till roots seem. As soon as roots have grown, you possibly can plant them in a container or outdoor.

Harvesting and Storing

When you’ve efficiently grown a floor cherry plant, you can begin harvesting! Let’s have a look at learn how to harvest and retailer them.


Harvesting ripe physalis. Close-up of a woman's hand plucking a ripe fruit from a Ground Cherry plant in a garden. The plant has large oval green leaves with slightly wavy edges and pointed tips. The fruit is small, the size of a cherry tomato, round in shape, covered with a bright orange paper husk with characteristic ribs.
Harvest floor cherries by selecting up fallen fruit or by checking if the husk is open and dry.

You’ll know to start out harvesting floor cherries while you see them on the bottom! One other signal is when the outer husk is open and utterly dry. You can provide your vegetation a mild shake to knock ripe fruits off the vegetation. In the event that they drop off with that little faucet or shake, they’re able to eat.

Like different vegetation within the nightshade household, floor cherries have slight toxicity once they’re inexperienced, and consuming too many can lead to an upset abdomen. In case you’re undecided when your cherries are ripe, solely harvest the fallen fruit. Ripe floor cherries shouldn’t be inexperienced in coloration, and the husk will likely be dry and paper-like.


Close-up of harvested ripe fruits of Ground Cherry plant on a wooden table. Some fruits are stacked in a small brown bag. The fruits are rounded, red-orange in color, covered with a dry brown-orange paper husk.
Floor cherries will be saved within the fridge for as much as 3 months.

You’ll be able to retailer floor cherries within the fridge in case you harvested too many to eat directly. Fruits which can be nonetheless within the husk can final for as much as 3 months, whereas naked fruit will last as long as 10 days. In case you harvest unripe fruit, you possibly can allow them to ripen on the kitchen counter for a number of days.

If it is advisable to retailer them long-term, you possibly can freeze, dehydrate, or can them. To freeze them, place them on a cookie sheet and allow them to sit within the freezer for a number of hours. It will forestall them from sticking collectively. As soon as they’re frozen, you possibly can transfer them to a freezer bag and retailer them for a number of months.

To dehydrate them, use a dehydrator or an oven. Use the bottom warmth setting and allow them to dry out for a number of hours. They need to final a number of months as soon as they’re utterly dry.

Canning can also be a well-liked technique. You’ll be able to retailer complete fruits or flip them into jam earlier than canning them. This is a wonderful strategy to retailer giant quantities of fruit that ought to final you till subsequent yr.


You could run into a number of issues whereas rising floor cherries, so let’s check out a number of of them. Luckily, lots of them will be prevented!

Rising Issues

Close-up of ripe fruits of a garden plant among green foliage. The fruits are medium in size, round in shape, covered with a paper husk of orange and green hues.
To develop floor cherries efficiently, keep temperatures between 55°F and 90°F.

Temperatures are more likely to be certainly one of your greatest issues with this plant. You’ll wish to develop them when the temperatures are between 55°F and 90°F (13°C and 32°C) since something cooler or hotter than it will injury or kill them. Use a greenhouse to control temperatures or use frost fabric and shade cloths as wanted.

Water may be one other downside. If the vegetation appear a bit of wilted, they most likely want extra water. They want at the very least 1 inch per week or possible a bit of extra on scorching days. Be sure that your soil retains moisture whereas additionally letting further water drain away.

In case your vegetation are confused by temperature, water, vitamins, or different components, you might discover fewer fruits, and vegetation might drop unripened fruit. Correcting the issues must be sufficient to make your plant glad once more.


Close-up of a Colorado potato beetle on the fruit of a plant. The beetle is square, bulging, yellow-black-striped.
Use neem oil to eliminate Colorado potato beetles, flea beetles and cherry leaf beetles.

You would possibly see varied beetles in your vegetation, together with Colorado potato beetles, flea beetles, and floor cherry leaf beetles. These pests eat up vegetation, together with leaves, roots, stems, and fruit. You’ll be able to choose them off by hand or use neem oil to kill the larvae, or you possibly can search for a pesticide made particularly for beetles.

There are many worms to search out in your floor cherries, together with cutworms, tobacco hornworms, and tomato hornworms. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) works very effectively to deal with many worm species; coat the leaves of your vegetation with this soil micro organism to cut back pest pressures from varied caterpillar larvae.

Mites and whiteflies may be an issue. Washing them off with water is the simplest strategy to eliminate them, however neem oil additionally works effectively.


Close-up of a diseased and dying plant in a sunny garden. It is a small bushy plant with withered twisted black leaves, dry brown stems and dry yellow-brown papery husks containing wilted fruits.
Floor cherries might get early blight or verticillium wilt, that are fungal ailments.

Floor cherries are usually fairly illness resistant, however they could get early blight or verticillium wilt, that are each fungal ailments. You’ll discover them while you see brown or yellow spots on leaves and stems. 

You’ll be able to’t treatment most fungal ailments, so take away contaminated vegetation as quickly as you see them. You’ll be able to forestall them by making use of a fungicide earlier than the ailments seem and by ensuring the local weather is excellent. Heat, humid temperatures make it simple for fungi to unfold, so give your vegetation loads of airflow if humidity is an issue.

Ceaselessly Requested Questions

Q: Do floor cherries come again yearly?

A: Most varieties are perennial in zones 8 or larger, though there are some which can be perennials in zone 6.

Q: How toxic are floor cherries?

A: Floor cherry leaves and unripened fruits are unsafe to eat as a result of they comprise solanine (the identical pure chemical that may flip the perimeters of sun-exposed potatoes inexperienced). Solely eat totally ripened fruit to keep away from getting a abdomen ache.

Q: Are you able to eat floor cherries?

A: Sure! You’ll be able to eat contemporary fruit or use them in jams and desserts.

Q: Are tomatillos and floor cherries the identical factor?

A: Tomatillos and floor cherries are each within the Physalis household, however they’re not fairly the identical. Tomatillos are typically a lot tarter and have a extra green-tomato taste, whereas floor cherries are tart-sweet and lean extra towards a fruity taste.

Q: The place is the very best place to plant floor cherries?

A: The perfect place to plant floor cherries is in a sunny location with well-draining soil.

Q: Can floor cherries survive winter?

A: Floor cherries can’t survive winter as a result of they don’t like temperatures beneath 55°F (13°C).

Q: What’s floor cherry good for?

A: Floor cherries are nice in lots of recipes, each candy and savory. Experiment with totally different varieties to search out one thing you want!

Q: Do deer like floor cherries?

A: Floor cherries are usually thought of to be deer-resistant.

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