Methods to Plant and Develop Floor Cherries

Physalis spp.

Ever want you may plant a berry bush or fruit tree and get instantaneous fruit? Floor cherries are the reply to your impatience!

Associated to the ever-present backyard tomato, these summer time annuals will be included in your veggie backyard to supply a crop of scrumptious, tropical-flavored fruit in only one rising season.

Floor cherries are identified by a seemingly countless listing of widespread names, together with Cape gooseberry, poha berry, pichuberry, floor tomato, strawberry tomato, golden berry, Inca berry… and the listing goes on!

Close up of bright orange ground cherries, with their husks open but still in tact. Green and white lettering to the centre and bottom of the frame.

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No matter you name them, these little berries are a superfood which you can simply develop for your self.

Let’s dig in:

What Are Floor Cherries?

Right here’s a member of the nightshade household that can encourage your candy tooth. If the leaves and flowers look acquainted, that’s as a result of these crops are associated to eggplants and tomatoes. Actually, they’re generally known as “husk tomatoes.”

The plant can develop low, hugging the bottom, or extra upright, relying on the range and rising situations. They’ve velvety leaves, purple-veined stems, and have a tendency to sprawl.

Close-up horizontal image of a Physalis flower, yellow with a purple interior, with buds forming around it. Soft focus background of leaves.

Floor cherry flowers are bell-shaped and white to yellow with purple facilities. Fruits develop within lantern-shaped husks that flip from inexperienced to tan and tackle a papery texture when the berry inside is ripe.

The husks ultimately break down, leaving a carefully webbed encasement across the berry.

On the right of the frame, two hands holding a bunch of freshly picked ground cherries, with papery husks, on a soft focus green background.

These scrumptious orange-yellow berries have a tropical style that some describe as pineapple with a touch of vanilla, and others describe as strawberry with tomato undertones. It’s their pronounced tart taste that everybody will agree on.

Cultivation and Historical past

The time period “floor cherry” refers to a number of species of Physalis crops. Whereas there are a minimum of 75 species of Physalis, not all of them have edible fruit.

Probably the most distinctive members of this genus is Chinese language lantern (P. alkekengi), a novel plant that’s grown as a decorative relatively than for its berries.

Close-up horizontal image of a ripe ground cherry on the branch, with its papery husk turning brown. Soft focus leafy background.

Edible floor cherries could not have the showy coloration of Chinese language lantern, however their husks enclose a foodie’s delight. Whereas this fruit could also be trending as a superfood, it has been cultivated because the seventeenth century, in line with Karen Hager on the Roanoke Instances.

Probably the most widespread varieties, P. pruinosa, is native to heat, subtropical Central America like its family members, tomatoes and tomatillos.

One other species native to Peru and Chile, P. peruviana, is usually known as Cape gooseberry or golden berry.

Many species of floor cherry have naturalized in North America, however the most typical place that many people will discover floor cherries is in heirloom seed catalogs, relatively than in our personal backyards.


Talking of seed catalogs, are you able to attempt rising your personal floor cherries? You possibly can plant transplants immediately into your ready backyard soil, begin seeds indoors, and even attempt direct sowing.

From Seed

Most seed firms advocate beginning the seeds indoors relatively than direct sowing. However the ease with which these seeds develop as volunteers is proof that direct sowing is actually an possibility.

A white plate, with floral design around the outside, on a wooden table, holding lots of tiny ground cherry seeds. To the left of the frame is a seed packet, and behind is a bag of soil, and some seedling pots.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin

In case you do select to direct sow, plant seeds after your final frost. Loosen the soil and work in some compost. Moisten the soil then pat it down gently with out compressing it.

Place your seeds on high of the soil after which cowl frivolously with a skinny layer of soil, about 1/4 inch. Pat soil gently. Water after planting seeds, after which each day with a mild spray out of your watering wand till the seeds are established.

Seeds ought to germinate in roughly 5 to eight days. Floor cherry seeds have a low germination charge, so plant greater than you want. When seedlings are properly established, skinny them so crops have a minimum of two sq. toes to unfold.

From Seedlings or Transplanting

Begin seeds indoors six to eight weeks earlier than your final frost. You’ll discover all it’s essential learn about beginning seeds indoors in our information.

If you wish to skip the seed beginning enterprise altogether, you possibly can acquire transplants from heirloom seed firms similar to Seed Savers Trade. Or ask your native nursery!

Close-up horizontal image of ground cherry seedlings, with soil at the bottom of the frame showing the furry stalks and green leaves on a soft focus background.

When planting seedlings or transplants, wait till two to 4 weeks after your final common frost. Harden off earlier than transplanting right into a sunny location with well-drained soil.

Floor cherries are infamous self-seeders, so plant as soon as and it’s possible you’ll by no means must plant them once more!

Methods to Develop

Plant seedlings or transplants in well-drained soil amended with compost. Don’t over water – they don’t prefer to hold their toes moist.

In case you have heavy clay soil, it’s possible you’ll need to plant them in a raised mattress. In my drylands backyard, they do nice in a sunken row.

A ground cherry bush, with unripe fruit, in green husks, surrounded by leaves, on a soft focus background of a house and garden.

If planting in containers, be certain that the roots have loads of room. Every plant must be in a gallon-sized pot or bigger.

Whether or not rising them within the backyard or in containers, ensure you give them room to sprawl – a single plant can take up 2 to three sq. toes.

They typically don’t must be staked, although some gardeners do stake leggier crops.

Rising Suggestions

  • Mulch beneath the crops with straw for simpler harvesting and to preserve water.
  • The crops will produce extra fruit in full solar however can tolerate gentle shade.
Physalis berries on the ground below the plants. Green stalks surrounding the yellow to green husks of the ripe berries.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin
  • Cowl with a row cowl if there’s a danger of frost, and to increase your rising season.
  • As at all times, if you plan your backyard subsequent 12 months, be certain that to rotate your nightshades to forestall nutrient depletion and the unfold of illness.

Cultivars to Choose

Wherever you reside you’ll in all probability discover a cultivar or species of floor cherry that can work on your local weather. P. pruinosa grows finest in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-8, whereas P. peruviana will be thought of a perennial in Zones 10 -12.

And there are various different edible species, together with the “clammy” sort (P. heterophylla, aka Rowell’s floor cherry), which is native to the US and hardy in Zones 7-10. One other US native, “widespread floor cherry” (P. longifolia) was utilized by Native People for meals.

Close-up horizontal image of two green, immature Physalis fruits, in green husks, on a soft focus leafy green background.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin

A backyard filled with a wide range of totally different species can be a wonderful factor! However most definitely, you’ll need to begin with the fundamentals.

Essentially the most generally accessible seeds are cultivars of P. pruinosa.

Aunt Molly’s

‘Aunt Molly’s’ is the basic floor cherry, essentially the most widespread cultivar of P. pruinosa and the most typical selection to purchase as a transplant.

The fruit is nice, tart, and tropical.

Floor Cherry

This open-pollinated number of P. peruviana produces one-inch, golden fruits with a candy, barely tart taste.

A close up square image of 'Ground Cherry' tomatillos freshly harvested and spilling out of a wooden basket.

‘Floor Cherry’

Seeds are accessible at Eden Brothers.

Mary’s Niagara

This number of P. pruinosa could be very low rising with a wider, three- to four-foot unfold. The fruits ripen sooner than different varieties, so it’s good for climates with brief rising seasons. It’s mentioned to have a refined candy taste.

New Hanover

Some suppose that is higher tasting than the ‘Aunt Molly’s’ cultivar. That is one other candy and fruity number of P. pruinosa.


Often known as ‘Cossack Pineapple,’ this P. pruinosa cultivar produces fruit that tastes like – you guessed it – pineapple! The berries are fruity and candy.

Close-up square image of a Pineapple ground cherry, a bright yellow berry, on top of a cluster of berries still in their yellow husks.


Seeds are accessible from Eden Brothers Nursery.

Irrespective of the place you reside within the US or which cultivar you decide, you must be capable to harvest fruit in a single season.

Managing Pests and Illness

In case you’re a laid again sort of gardener, then floor cherries must be a part of your repertoire.

These crops are usually not significantly vulnerable to micro organism, fungi, or viruses. Though they’re hardly ever focused by backyard critters, sometimes it’s possible you’ll discover your crops visited by some unwelcome friends.


Floor cherries could appeal to the identical kinds of animals as your different tasty backyard goodies – squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, possums, and deer. Fortunately the ripe fruit are pretty well-hidden, so most four-legged backyard intruders is not going to discover them simply.

Close-up vertical image of an unripe ground cherry in a green husk with a yellow and purple flower above. Soft focus background is leaves and a tree branch.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin

Fencing will definitely assist hold the larger critters out, and floating row covers will provide much more safety.


Whereas floor cherries aren’t significantly vulnerable to insect issues, there are a number of bugs that may discover your crops as scrumptious as you discover the fruit!


Cutworms is usually a downside for younger seedlings. Shield seedlings with plant collars or by sprinkling eggshells or espresso grounds across the base of younger crops.

Make sure to accurately determine these guys, as they appear much like some useful butterflies.

Learn our full information to cutworm management for extra suggestions.

Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms will munch on any nightshade plant, so floor cherries are undoubtedly on the menu.

Examine your floor cherry crops (and different nightshades) for these large, juicy caterpillars and take away them. They make wonderful treats on your chickens, or will be squashed underneath your heel.

Study extra about combating tomato hornworms right here.

Colorado Potato Beetles and Floor Cherry Leaf Beetles

These beetles are straightforward to identify – though they’re on the small facet, they appear like little clowns with their brilliant yellow and black stripes.

In case you discover any in your crops, decide them off and squish them.

Discover recommendations on colorado potato beetle management right here.

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are tiny beetles that can chew holes within the leaves of your floor cherry crops. In wholesome crops, this can in all probability solely be an aesthetic concern. Plant basil close by to repel these pests.

Learn our information on flea beetle management for extra suggestions.

Your primary technique for protecting your floor cherry crops insect-free must be inspecting your crops usually.

Close-up horizontal image of the leaves of a Physalis pruinosa plant. To the left of the frame, an unripe berry, in a green husk.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

And since nightshade-loving pests are likely to eat any member of this plant household, protecting your tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and floor cherries separated with non-nightshades will hold these pests from clean crusing on the free meals expressway!


Floor cherries have so many issues going for them – they’re tasty, straightforward to develop and even straightforward to reap. How are you aware when it’s time to reap them? When the berry ripens, it falls to the bottom in its protecting husk – thus the identify!

The berries will ripen steadily after the crops attain maturity, often beginning in July or August and up till your first frost.

Close-up vertical image of a Physalis pruinosa berry, with a papery husk around the fruit hanging from a branch, with leaves around it and a soft focus green background.

On ripe fruit, husks can be straw-colored and papery whereas the fruit inside can be someplace within the yellow to orange vary. Depart green-husked fruit on the plant to ripen.

When you begin noticing ripe fruit, look beneath the plant on daily basis or so to gather any fallen berries. Mulching underneath your crops will make harvesting simpler.

P. pruinosa fruit in their light green, papery husks shown on the surface of the soil, underneath the plant. With plant matter in the background.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin

Use floating row covers to increase your rising season, however when it’s time to place the backyard to mattress for winter, you possibly can harvest unripe berries of their husks.

Retailer unripe fruit at room temperature in a single layer to ripen. Smaller fruit could not ripen absolutely – solely eat these which can be ripe because the leaves, stems, husks, and unripe fruit could also be poisonous.

Three harvested ground cherries, their husks dry and almost transparent, on a green background.

As for ripe fruit, they are going to hold longer in a cool atmosphere, similar to a fridge, basement, or root cellar. For longer storage, simply be certain that to maintain them unwashed and of their husks.

In keeping with Brenda Lynn at Mom Earth Information, ripe floor cherries will be saved for 3 months in the suitable situations.


One other factor to like about these members of your backyard is {that a} single plant can produce a whole lot of berries.

These berries are an incredible supply of antioxidants and nutritional vitamins A, and C, but additionally nutritional vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-3. Think about preserving your harvest when you develop a bumper crop.

Earlier than preserving, take away husks, and rinse berries. You possibly can protect them by making jam, dehydrating, freezing, or fermenting.

A jar with a spoon in it, containing bright orange Cape gooseberry jam, on a light colored woven background. Around the jar are fresh fruits, some with their husks still intact, others showing the orange berry.

Depart fruits complete or reduce them in half for jam. Jam made with floor cherries will brighten up your winter and make thrilling items on your foodie associates.

Discover suggestions for making your personal jams and jellies on our sister website, Foodal.

You possibly can dehydrate floor cherries in a lot the identical approach as you’d dehydrate grapes to make raisins.

Dehydrating concentrates flavors, so you need to use your dehydrated harvest to taste muffins or cookies, add them to path combine for a burst of tartness, or sprinkle them on high of your oatmeal. Learn extra about dehydrating the backyard’s bounty on Foodal.

A white bowl with dried Physalis fruit in it, on a wooden surface, surrounded by freshly picked fruits still in their papery husks.

The fruit may also be frozen for later use.

Place clear fruit on a baking sheet, then place the baking sheet within the freezer. Freeze for half an hour or so, then take away the baking sheet and put the flash-frozen floor cherries in a reusable glass container. Retailer the container within the freezer.

Learn extra concerning the ins and outs of freezing backyard produce now on Foodal.

Cooking Concepts

In case you don’t eat all of them within the backyard, cooking the berries is a scrumptious approach to remodel them.

Prepare dinner them down right into a sauce to drizzle over vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt. Or chop them up with some sizzling peppers, onions, and cilantro and switch them right into a peppy salsa!

Close-up horizontal image of two Cape gooseberries cut in half, showing the bright yellow flesh dotted with tiny seeds, on a dark soft focus background.

After I lived in Paris, I’d typically see a single floor cherry positioned as a garnish on high of a dessert with its papery husks folded again like wings. So fairly!

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Kind: Annual/Perennial fruiting herbaceous plant Water Wants: 2 inches per week
Native to: Central America Upkeep: Low
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 4 and up, varies in line with species Soil Kind: Wealthy, natural, however tolerates poor soil
Season: Summer time Soil pH: 6-6.8
Publicity: Full solar to gentle shade Soil Drainage: Properly-draining
Time to Maturity: About 70 days Companion Planting: Basil, cleome, cosmos, parsley, Queen Anne’s lace, Aster household flowers
Spacing: 2-3 toes aside Keep away from Planting With: Different nightshades
Planting Depth: 1/4 inch (seeds) Household: Solanaceae
Peak: 12-24 inches Subfamily: Solanoideae
Unfold: 24-36 inches Genus: Physalis
Tolerance: Frost delicate Species: varied
Frequent Pests: Hornworms, Colorado potato beetles, floor cherry leaf beetles, cutworms, flea beetles Frequent Illness: Alternaria leaf blight and stem cankers, anthracnose, blight, fusarium wilt, mosaic virus

A Style of the Tropics, Contemporary from Your Backyard

Floor cherries will add an thrilling new taste to your veggie backyard, and if you pop open that jar of floor cherry jam mid-winter, its tartness will distinction superbly with the winter climate.

A white woven basket, with wooden handles, on a light wooden table, containing ground cherries. Some are in their husks, and others have the husks pulled back to reveal the bright orange fruit.

Do floor cherries brighten up your life as a lot as they do mine? In that case, inform me about it within the feedback.

If you wish to be taught extra about nightshades or rising uncommon fruit, listed below are a number of extra guides you’re certain to wish:

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