Physalis – an exotic fruit wrapped in orange paper lanterns
You have probably already seen the small orange-colored fruits of the physalis at your nearby fruit market or you know them as a decoration on desserts or fruit salads. The orange to light brown shells of this exotic fruit are also attractive, because they look like small lanterns and are therefore often used in autumn decoration arrangements. But if you want to find out a little more about Physalis, then you’ve come to the right place today. In the following we briefly report on the origin of this plant and give you care tips if you want to grow it in your garden. Stay with it and find out more about Physalis.
Where does the physalis come from and how is it called?
Physalis originally comes from Peru and Chile, which is why the exotic fruit is also known under the name Andean berry (Physalis peruviana) or Cape gooseberry. The second name comes from the assumption that the fruit was brought by seafarers from South America to South Africa by sea during the colonial era, to the Cape of Good Hope.
Physalis is a heat-loving plant, but it can also be cultivated in colder places. In Europe it is also known as the earth cherry or bladder cherry. No matter what we call the exotic fruit plant, Physalis is a perennial. In principle, it is perennial, but we only cultivate it for one year because of its sensitivity to frost. Actually, you can only grow them in warm regions of Europe and enjoy their tasty fruits in beautifully shaped orange shells. They are edible and, depending on their slightly sour taste, are reminiscent of gooseberries.
The physalis impresses us with its exotic appearance
The Andean berry is a fast and lush growing plant. It can reach a height of 2 m. The leaves are heart-shaped, velvety and slightly hairy. The flowers are very attractive because their shape resembles small lanterns. They are also yellow and sometimes have black spots. Eight to nine weeks after flowering, green lanterns form first. These are colored orange to light brown during harvest time. They open slightly and look like tiny lanterns. Because of this exotic appearance, the berry casings are often used for decorating. They give every autumn decoration more natural charm. The small yellow fruits, which are more like cocktail tomatoes, are edible and very healthy because they have a high vitamin C content. This makes them popular when preparing and decorating fruit salads and desserts. The fruits can be consumed raw or dried.
What should one consider when caring for the physalis?
So that you can also admire the Andean berries in your own garden, it is advisable to consider the following care tips.
Location and soil: The Physalis likes a warm, full sun and sheltered place. The soil should be loose and rich in nutrients, then the warmth-needing plant can produce its fruits. If it gets cool early in the year in your region and night frosts come, then you may have to grow the physalis in the bucket. This makes it easier to bring them into the house when the temperature outside is unfavorable (e.g. below 12 degrees at night).
Planting: If you have bought a young plant, after the last frosts, May is the best time to plant it outside. Provide a large free space for your Andean berries, because they grow bushy and form many shoots. For example, you don’t have to plant anything else at a distance of 1 m. Often the plant also needs a climbing aid.
Watering and fertilizing: The Andean berries have to be watered regularly, but avoid any waterlogging. The soil should be evenly moist. For fertilization, it is best to add some horn shavings while planting. A small amount of compost would also be sufficient.
Overwinter: The Physalis is sensitive to frost, so it is difficult to survive the low winter temperatures in our garden beds. It is therefore advisable to cultivate them in a tub. Before you bring the exotic to the winter quarters, you have to cut it back by two thirds. For the physalis, find a bright place in the house where the temperature does not drop below 10 degrees. In spring she has to get used to the sun again before you take her outside.
Images via: Pinterest