How to grow Cape Gooseberry / Physalis

How to grow Cape Gooseberry / Physalis

Cape Gooseberries in a bowl

The Cape Gooseberry (also known as Physalis) is a rewarding and easy plant to grow, regardless of where it's located. While the fruit loves sunlight (with plenty in full sun), its roots don't mind some shade either!

It does well even when grown on poorly drained soil as long as there isn’t too much nitrate fertilizer around; this will result into more leaves than anything else if you feed them high levels via your local garden center or home improvement store

Pros and Benefits of Gape Gooseberries

Great source of Vitamin C to boost immune system
Picking Cape Gooseberries
Great for Desserts, Cakes, Decor
The fruits come with their own packaging in little lanterns

Physalis Lanterns
Can be stored for weeks if their husk is still intact and can be freezed

How do ripe Cape Gooseberries look?

Ripe Cape Gooseberry with papery Husk

Their husks aren't edible, but don’t remove them -- just peel it back  -- and they're ready to be placed as cake garnish or dipped in chocolate.

Cape Gooseberries grown in PlettenbergBay

Among our personal favourite must-grow plants list


The plant can easily reach 1 meter in diameter and if cared for well up to two meters. Luckily space was not an issue when we started growing them. Since 2020 we planted them at 20+ different locations throughout the garden.

Cape Gooseberries
Strong winds can easily break branches although they will recover. Coastal winds are common along the Garden Route. Tip: Planting dense and the plants can support each other.

Physalis is not frost tolerant.

Unripe cape gooseberries can contain alkaloids which may cause allergic reactions. 

Cape Gooseberries stem

Before we started our 7 year project to grow a real urban Food Forest in September 2019 we already had a well established Bush of Cape Gooseberries with a stem almost as big as an arm (photo of the stem)

Golden berries are bright, orange-colored fruits that are closely related to the tomatillo. Like tomatillos, they are wrapped in a papery husk called a calyx that must be removed before eating.

Ripe Physalis in golden husk

Ripe Cape Gooseberry

Growing Food during Pandemic

The success we had with cape gooseberries is reason enough to try to grow tomatillos next!

Physalis Seeds
Breakfast during Lockdown in South Africa and a thought: Just imagine - if we plant those seeds 

March 2020 during LockdownSA - Thinking of a future with thousands of Cape Gooseberries in the Garden.

Cape Gooseberry in Hand 


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