Plants

Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana)

There are plants that, to be able to enjoy them, you must put them yes or yes in the ground, but there are others like the Physalis peruviana that also grow perfect in pots. The most interesting thing about this species is that it serves both as ornamental and edible, so it is undoubtedly one of those that you cannot miss.

The care you need is not complicated; in fact, it will not be difficult for you to keep it in good health.

Origin and characteristics

Image – Wikimedia/ Forest & Kim Starr

It is a shrubby herbaceous plant known as aguaymanto, cape gooseberry, uvilla or ushun that belongs to the botanical family Solanaceae. It is native to South America, especially Peru, which is where the surname (Peruvian) comes from; However, today it is also cultivated in Africa, Asia, and in any area that enjoys a temperate and/ or warm climate.

It reaches a height of up to 1 meter, with highly branched branches from which green leaves sprout. Its flowers are bell-shaped, yellow and appear in spring. The fruit is a drupe of about 1.20 to 2cm in diameter, yellow-orange and with a sweet flavor.

What are their cares?

Would you like to have a specimen of Physalis peruviana ? Then we recommend providing the following care:

Location

It is a plant that has to be outdoors, either in full sun or in semi-shade. It does not have invasive roots, so you can plant it near other plants, but if you are going to grow it in a pot it is preferable that you have it alone.

Earth

  • Garden: naturally grows in soils with a pH between 5.6 and 6.9; which means that it lives well both in acids and in those that are slightly limestone. In any case, you should know that if the one you have is “pure” limestone, that is, with a pH between 7 and 8, you will not have to worry too much since watering with a liter of water mixed with the -natural- lemon juice on a regular basis it will produce its fruits normally.
  • Pot: from what has been said before, you can fill it with a growing medium for acid plants, or universal substrate mixed with 30% white peat.

Irrigation

If in your area the annual rainfall is between 1000 and 2000, and relative humidity is between 70 and 80%, you will not have to water . If not, it is important that you know that it requires frequent watering and high humidity. But beware, you don’t have to treat it as if it were an aquatic plant; in fact, if it were done this way, its roots would rot quickly.

For this reason, and to avoid problems, I recommend you water it about 3 or 4 times a week in summer, and about two times a week the rest of the year. Whenever you can use rainwater, without lime, or mixed with natural lemon juice or with a little -one tablespoon per 5l of water- of vinegar.

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During all the warm months of the year, it is advisable to fertilize with organic fertilizers, since these are not toxic to the plant or to humans (or for anyone, really). Just keep in mind that if you use guano, or any bird manure (marine or terrestrial) it is very, very important to follow the instructions at the bottom of the letter, since it is so concentrated that there may be a risk of overdose.

Multiplication

Image – Wikimedia/ Bsm15

Seeds

The Physalis peruviana multiplies by seeds in spring, following this step by step:

  1. The first thing you have to do is fill a seedling tray with substrate for acidic plants, and water it thoroughly.
  2. Then, place a maximum of two seeds in each socket, and cover them with a thin layer of substrate.
  3. Then water again, this time with a sprayer.
  4. Finally, place the seedling tray inside another wider tray that does not have holes (like this one they sell here for example), and this one on the outside.

Keeping the substrate moist, the seeds will germinate in 1 to 2 weeks.

Cuttings

If the weather is warm and frost-free, it can also be multiplied by cuttings in spring. To do this, what is done is to cut a branch, impregnate the base with homemade rooting agents and finally plant it in a pot with vermiculite.

Related article:The best homemade rooters for your cuttings

Keeping the substrate humid and placed outside, in semi-shade, it will emit its own roots in about 3 or 4 weeks.

Planting or transplanting time

The peruviana Physalis planted in the garden or passed to a larger pot in spring when the risk of frost has passed.

Pruning

With scissors previously disinfected with alcohol, dry, diseased, weak or broken branches must be removed. It can also be used to cut the others, in order to get a more compact plant.

Rusticity

It resists cold and weak frosts down to -2ºC as long as they are short-lived.

What uses does it have?

Ornamental

It is a very decorative plant, especially when it has produced its fruits. It is perfect for growing in pots, in planters, in recycled buckets with holes in the base,… and of course in the orchard or garden.

Edible

The fruits can be eaten fresh, just picked from the plant, but they are also used to make jams, yogurts, sweets, ice cream, preserves and even liqueurs.

Medicinal

It is believed to help prevent or relieve symptoms of asthma, rheumatism, depression, menopause, injuries, diabetes, or sinusitis.

What did you think of the Physalis peruviana ?

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