Physalis alkekengi also goes by the names Chinese lantern plant and strawberry ground-cherry. It is a perennial plant that grows in parts of the U.S. Northeast and Midwest. The plant has poisonous leaves, and its berries are poisonous if eaten before they're ripe. The berries grow inside lantern-like husks, and people eat them raw, in jams or in baked goods. Although the plants can survive winters and grow back each spring, gardeners should plant them during the spring after the last frost.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Small starter pots
- Potting soil
Fill small pots with sterilised potting soil to start the Physalis alkekengi seeds early indoors, if desired. This will give your plants a head start when you transplant them into the garden after the weather warms up in the spring. You can also start the plants from seed outdoors after the last frost of the spring.
Plant a few seeds in each pot to make sure at least one germinates. Cover the seeds with a light sprinkling of soil.
Water the seeds gently to provide moisture without disturbing them. Water the seedlings whenever their soil dries out.
Thin out the seedlings as they grow so that each pot eventually contains just one seedling.
Prepare a garden space where you will transplant the seedlings after the last frost in the spring. According to North Carolina State University, Physalis alkekengi grows well in open spaces and flower gardens.
Plant the seedlings in the garden at the same depth as they were growing in their starter pots. Space the plants two to three feet apart to allow them to spread, recommends the University of Minnesota Extension.
Irrigate the plants during dry weather when the soil dries out.
Tips and warnings
- Harvest the Physalis alkekengi berries in late July or August when they are fully ripe. Don't pick and eat the berries before they ripen -- they're poisonous until then.
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