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Harvesting physalis: When are Cape gooseberries ripe and what should be considered when harvesting Andean berries?

Their orange fruits in thin lantern shells can be found in health food stores from the end of August: the Cape gooseberries (still known as Andean berries or physalis). They are delicious and can be made into jams and marmalades. If you want to enjoy them, you don’t have to spend big for it, you can also plant the Cape gooseberry in the garden or on the balcony. We explain how to harvest physalis and when the cape gooseberries are ripe.

Harvesting physalis: When is the right time?

Physalis fruits can you harvest them green or not

With proper care and sufficient sunlight in the summer, physalis fruits are ready for harvesting from late August – early September. However, it is very important to harvest only completely ripe fruits . Unripe fruits are inedible, contain toxins and are dangerous to humans and animals.

When are the Cape gooseberries ripe?

When the perennial forms its fruits, the pods are light green. Over time, they turn yellow. The change in color is an indication that the fruits are currently ripening. However, they are not yet ready to harvest, even if they fall to the ground in July and August. Only when their lampion pods completely dry up and fade or turn brown (both variations are possible), then the physalis fruits are ripe. The sheaths should look like parchment paper.

You can then gently shake the perennial and collect the fallen fruit, or pick off the fruit along with the sheaths. Carefully sort out the yellow and the orange fruits – they are edible. Any Cape gooseberries that have a green tinge should not be eaten.

Can you harvest the fruit green and let physalis ripen?

Harvest physalis in autumn when are cape gooseberries ripe

Physalis cannot be allowed to ripen. If the fruits are still green before the first frost, then you can transplant the whole plant into a container and move it to a warm and sunny winter place. Cape gooseberries need a lot of light to ripen.

Otherwise, you can store the ripe fruits with the lantern sleeves in a dry and cool place. Remove the sleeves just before eating and rinse the fruit thoroughly to remove the sticky coating.

Harvest the Cape gooseberries when it is frosty: Is it possible?

Harvesting physalis in the garden and on the balcony

In regions with mild climates, Cape gooseberries are ready for harvest no later than mid-October. In tropical countries, the Andean berries can even bloom and bear fruit several times a year. In this country, the ripening period extends until the end of October. In addition, the Cape gooseberries do not tolerate frost at all. Often, all the fruits fall off prematurely after just one cold night outdoors. If you see that the physalis are not yet ready for harvesting, and the temperatures quickly

Harvest physalis in the garden

Why do physalis fruits fall off


Especially the garden plants are often exposed to frost and thrive outside in the fall. However, one trick can help physalis become ready for harvest earlier. If you want to save this year’s fruit, you can cover the plant with fleece to protect it from frost.

Overwinter the andes berries

To make the fruits ripen faster next year, you can overwinter the plant. To do this, proceed as follows:

  1. First, dig up the plant, including the roots, and plant it in a container.
  2. Then cut back the shoots close to the ground and overwinter the plant in a bright and cool place. An unheated winter garden or a bright garden house with large windows is well suited.
  3. In winter, water the perennial sparingly and only as needed. Never allow the soil to dry out, it should always be fresh.

Harvest physalis on the balcony

Physalis when ripe how to recognize tips

How quickly ripen physalis fruit on the balcony depends mainly on its orientation. On the south and west balconies, the plants have enough sunlight to be ready for harvesting faster. On the east or north balcony, the fruits will certainly need more time to ripen.

You can help: Place the plants as warm as possible, protected from wind and rain. If necessary, you can cover them with fleece as frost protection in the evening. Wrap the pots with fleece as early as mid-October to keep the roots warm.

Then from the end of October, before the first night frost, you need to bring the physalis indoors. For this purpose, strongly cut back the plant and overwinter at temperatures between 5 ° and 8 ° Celsius in a bright and unheated room. During the dormant period, water the perennial sparingly and stop fertilizing. In the spring, just before the start of the gardening season, you can slowly increase watering.

Why do physalis fruits fall off?

Physalis fruits as autumn decoration on table


Possible reasons why the perennial suddenly loses all fruit include:

  • Too few hours of direct sunlight daily. Physalis really needs full sun to bear fruit and then ripen.
  • Too little water. The perennial needs regular watering. Especially in the tub, the soil dries out much faster. Therefore – check every two days and always keep the soil moderately fresh.
  • Too much fertilizer. Physalis, even as a container plant, does not need fertilizer during the flowering period and afterwards. Too much of a good thing can lead to overfertilization and then the fruit will drop off.
  • The plant was brought outdoors too early in the spring or wintered too late. The less time physalis spends at low temperatures, the earlier it will bloom and bear fruit.