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How to grow physalis

Updated April 17, 2017

Physalis are perennials that are also known as Chinese lanterns, winter cherry and Cape gooseberry. They are native to Brazil, and made their way to North America by way of Cape Horn, then Hawaii. These plants boast white flowers midsummer to early fall, when they also produce fruit. The fruit grows inside husks that are red, orange or yellow in colour, and is a good source of vitamin C. Sow physalis seeds outside to easily add stunning colour to your garden.

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  1. Choose a full sun location in your garden. Till the soil to loosen. If necessary, add all-purpose potting soil to the ground. Mix potting soil with vermiculite, 50-50. The vermiculite will further enrich the ground and help the seeds germinate better.

  2. Sow the seeds on top of the soil in late spring, after the last frost. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of potting soil. Do not pack the soil down.

  3. Water the seeds well. Be careful not to flood the seeds, or they can be washed away. Use a watering can or spray nozzle on your garden hose. Moisten the soil daily. Germination will occur within three to five weeks after planting.

  4. Once the seedlings are about 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) tall, space them out so they are about 60 cm (24 inches) apart. Keep only the strongest seedlings. Plants will reach a height of 45 to 60 cm (18 to 24 inches) by the end of summer.

  5. Fertilise in early spring. Use a liquid, all-purpose fertiliser for best results.

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Things You'll Need

  • All-purpose potting soil
  • Liquid fertiliser

About the Author

Amy Hannaford teaches childbirth education classes and a healthy pregnancy series in Southern Oregon. Hannaford holds an Associate of Arts degree, a certificate in medical assisting, and has been a childbirth educator and birth doula for 20 years. She has been writing articles for Demand Media since 2008.

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