How to Grow Cape Gooseberries

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Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L.) is primarily grown for its small, yellow-orange berries used to create sweet, tart, jams and jellies and desserts such as puddings, sauces and pies. Cape gooseberries are especially valued in South America, where the cooked berries are sweetened with honey. The plant also has ornamental value, as papery, lantern-shaped husks encompass the berries. A warm-weather plant, cape gooseberry is suitable for planting in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 to 12. In colder climates, cape gooseberry can be replanted every year.

Plant young cape gooseberry plants in a sunny spot where the plants are protected from harsh wind. Cape gooseberry thrives in poor but well-drained soil. Excessively rich or fertile soil results in attractive, green plants with few blooms and few berries. For this reason, no fertiliser or soil amendment is recommended. However, a shovel full of sand mixed into the soil improves drainage. To plant, dig a hole the same depth as the nursery container, but make the hole at least twice as wide as the container. Place the plant in the hole, then pat the soil firmly around the roots. Water deeply after planting.

Pinch the growing tip of cape gooseberry at planting time, as pinching the tips causes the plant to grow more branches, resulting in more berries.

Water cape gooseberries regularly and keep the soil lightly moist. Never overwater, as cape gooseberries don't do well in muddy soil.

Harvest cape gooseberries when the husks are dry and the berries drop to the ground. Continue to gather the fruit every two to three weeks until all the berries are harvested.

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