Ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) are a unique and delicious fruit, but for many growers, keeping the plant healthy is a challenge. These perennials grow well in warm, humid climates and can be an excellent addition to any garden.
Ground cherries are a flavorful fruit that is native to South America. The ground cherry plant is also known as the cape gooseberry, which is an annual plant that produces berries in late summer and early fall. Ground cherries can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow and red.
What is Ground Cherry?
Ground cherries are closely related to the tomatillo, and they are also members of the genus Physalis. However, unlike tomatillos, ground cherries can be eaten raw; they have a unique sweet-tart flavor that is similar to pineapple. These small fruits grow in delicate translucent paper husks that brown as the fruit ripens; the husks are flavorful but inedible. Ground cherries are an excellent source of vitamin C and also provide beta-carotene and antioxidants.
Use this guide for growing great ground cherries.
This guide will teach you the following:
- How to find the best fertilizer for your ground cherries
- Where to plant your ground cherries for the best results
- When you should harvest your ground cherries
What are the Benefits of Growing Ground Cherries?
Ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) are an easy-to-grow berry variety with a tangy taste. They make a great addition to jam and preserves, but also have a lot of potential in baking as well. If you’re interested in growing ground cherries of your own, read on to learn more about these plants, including how to grow them from seed and their best soil conditions.
Once you’ve read up on the basics of growing ground cherries at home, you may be wondering about the benefits of growing this plant. There are many advantages to cultivating ground cherries:
- They are easy to grow. Because they require little maintenance and can be grown in containers or planters as well as in garden plots, ground cherries are a great option for novice gardeners just beginning their green thumb journey. Ground cherry plants are self pollinating so there is no risk of your crop failing due to lack of pollinators. Additionally, these plants thrive in full sun but can tolerate partial shade as well—meaning that even if your yard has some shady patches, you can still enjoy a successful harvest!
- Excellent flavor profile. Ground Cherries have an excellent flavor profile that lends itself well both sweet and savory dishes alike! With such versatility as an ingredient plus their ease of cultivation; Ground Cherries make wonderful additions on any homesteader’s menu each day all year long!
How to Grow Your Own Ground Cherries
There are a few considerations to keep in mind if you’re growing ground cherries at home. First, they need at least 6 hours of sun per day to grow properly. Also, they can be grown in the ground or in containers; just make sure that whatever container you use has ample drainage. If you’re planting them in the ground instead, be sure the soil is well-drained.
Ground cherries love nutrients. They’ll benefit most from a fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium (three numbers on your fertilizer label will tell you how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium it contains). Also water regularly—if the plant gets dry for too long, it won’t thrive!
The best time to apply fertilizer to your ground cherry plants is when they begin producing flowers. You can also apply it before planting seeds or transplants if you want to get a head start on nutrition before they start growing!
When Should I Harvest My Ground Cherries?
When you harvest ground cherries depends on how and when you want to use them. For the most part, your ground cherries should be ready to harvest late in the summer and early in the fall, but that timeline can vary.
Ground cherries are ripe when they drop off the plant on their own, but they can also be harvested while they’re still attached to their papery husks. For many gardeners, this is preferred because it makes them easier to store. Ground cherries that are yellow in color are much sweeter than those that have not yet ripened—so if you’re looking for a snack right out of the garden, wait until they turn a bright yellow before picking them up.
If you don’t live in an area that reaches temperatures below freezing or you don’t mind storing your ground cherries for later use (such as by drying or freezing), it is fine to pick green-colored ground cherries and allow them to ripen indoors. This could potentially help extend your growing season beyond what would normally occur in nature.
Best Fertilizer For Ground Cherries
Fertilizer is essential for healthy plant growth. Ground cherries especially benefit from a balanced fertilizer, as they require large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to produce high yields. Use a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 at planting time, then again when the plants’ flower and fruit.
Ground cherry plants prefer sandy soil that drains easily but retains moisture.
Because ground cherries are not maintained with the same level of care that other fruits are, they are particularly vulnerable to pests and diseases. For example, ground cherries have been found to be susceptible to tomato hornworms and flea beetles.
As with anything else, too much of a good thing can be harmful. If you apply fertilizer at a higher rate than recommended or apply it too close to the plant’s root system, it may do more harm than good.
Too much nitrogen in the soil can lead to very large leaves and stems, but very little fruit production. This can also make your plants more vulnerable to disease and adverse weather conditions.
From a botany standpoint, nitrogen is perhaps the most valuable element for plant growth. It’s involved in the production of chlorophyll, which allows plants to convert sunlight into energy, and of amino acids, which are essential for growth. A ground cherry needs more leaves in order to produce more fruit (which is its goal), and nitrogen helps it do that by creating new cells and enlarging existing ones.
Nitrogen-rich fertilizer also helps the plant survive periods of drought. By delaying the formation of flowers and fruits in lieu of increasing foliage, the groundcherry can take advantage of water that may be scarce at that time. This sustains its vegetative state until enough water becomes available for further development.
In addition to helping plants grow during periods of drought, nitrogen also makes them more resistant to being overrun by weeds.
Now that we’ve determined that you need to apply a phosphorus-rich fertilizer, let’s talk about what plants require phosphorus. In general, all plants require phosphorus to grow and thrive. Phosphorus is essential for photosynthesis, seed and fruit production, root growth and development, strong stems, and overall plant vigor.
However, phosphorous is more important for some plants than others. If you have a flowering plant (like ground cherries), then it will benefit from a fertilizer higher in phosphorous than other nutrients. Other examples of plants that benefit from extra phosphorous are fruit trees (especially when they are blooming), perennial flowers (such as hydrangeas or daylilies), and vegetables/leafy greens (like lettuce).
Potassium-Rich Organic Fertilizer
Potassium is one of the three macro-nutrients that ground cherries need in high quantities, along with nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Potassium is needed for healthy growth and fruit production.
- Potassium is needed for photosynthesis (the process by which plants create food).
- Potassium is needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates (plant food) by plants.
- Potassium is needed for the synthesis of proteins (plant building blocks).
- Potassium is required to help regulate pH, moisture, water pressure, and stomata (which are important as they allow gases like carbon dioxide to pass through a plant’s leaves).
- Plants with potassium deficiencies show signs of necrosis or death at leaf tips and edges, and also exhibit stunted growth in stems and roots due to reduced cell division/cell elongation processes in growing tissues – this means less new leaf/stem material being produced each day compared to healthy plants that have sufficient amounts!
When you are growing ground cherries in your garden, you might want to know what the best fertilizer for ground cherries is. Ground cherries like to grow in rich soil that has lots of nutrients. The best fertilizer to use is a balanced one with equal parts nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
A balanced fertilizer will keep your plants healthy and happy. You can apply this fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season or once your plant starts to bloom. If you have a small garden, you should be able to add the right amount of fertilizer yourself.
You can also buy organic fertilizers like manure that are great for the environment and won’t harm your plants either! It’s easy! When applying any type of fertilizer make sure to follow the directions on the package carefully so that you don’t over or underdo it!