Most people know the orange glowing fruits of physalis from delicious desserts or as decoration – but the plant can also be grown in your own garden. And it works really well.
The physalis is also known as Andean berry or Cape gooseberry. It belongs to the nightshade family, like tomatoes and peppers. The word Andean indicates its country of origin, the highlands of South America.
Physalis is a perennial plant, but it is not hardy. In this respect, you have the plant in the open garden one season, unless you overwinter the perennial. It also grows excellently in Central Europe. The prerequisite is a sunny location and a nutrient-rich soil, enriched with compost.
Physalis loves sun and nutrients
Ideally, you should buy at the market or garden center pre-grown small plants, which you can put outdoors, when there is certainly no night frost.
If the seedlings are placed in a sunny location – for example, even in a raised bed – the plant will grow quickly. Andes berry also likes a place protected from the wind and rain. Therefore, it can also stand very well on a balcony or on the terrace in a large tub.
In summer, the first flowers can be discovered. The flowers will later give rise to the fruits. Water the physalis in the hot months.
Growth unfolds in the summer
Over the course of the summer, you do not feed the plant any more nutrients, otherwise it will continue to grow enormously and put its energy into the branches – and not into the fruit. However, pruning is not really necessary. The branches of the perennial are then about 60 centimeters high and spread to the side up to one meter.
Physalis continues to grow, especially in late summer and fall, and decorates your bed when other nightshade plants used as vegetables, such as potatoes, tomatoes or peppers have already passed their peak.
Delicious fruit with abundant vitamin C
The berries, which are enclosed in a lampion-like shell, can be harvested from late summer. Unripe fruits that have been picked do not ripen again. On the plant, however, the berries still ripen if it has been brought indoors, for example, in a large pot. Since the plant is perennial, it can be overwintered indoors.
Physalis is the generic name, there are different types, the Andean berry is edible variety in the narrow sense. It is rich in vitamins, contains particularly high levels of vitamin C and is excellent with desserts as a garnish. But also pure from the bush it tastes very aromatic and diverse.
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