Anyone who has ever cultivated the physalis, probably, like most, will have cultivated it as an annual. Yet it is quite possible and not at all difficult to get them through the winter and continue to cultivate the next year. We’ll explain how to protect the Andean berry, as it is also known, from winter in the garden and pot, and how to prepare it before you overwinter the physalis.
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Is the physalis hardy?
The fact that most people cultivate Andean berries only as annuals already indicates that it is not hardy, at least not in our regions. Even winter-hardy varieties do not exist, despite somewhat more robust cultivated forms. As a rule, temperatures should not permanently fall below 10 degrees, so that the plant can survive the winter. If, exceptionally, it should go more towards zero, this is not immediately fatal, but damage to the above-ground parts of the plant is then possible, and in the long run this inevitably leads to the death of the roots and, accordingly, the plant.
When does the Andean berry need winter protection?
What the physalis absolutely does not tolerate is frost. Therefore, you should overwinter the physalis at the latest before the first frost. As a rule, this is the beginning of October or the middle of the month at the latest.
Can you overwinter physalis in the garden or pot?
Most likely, you grow the physalis in the garden. But to overwinter a physalis in the garden is simply impossible, even with winter protection. Therefore, you have no choice but to overwinter the physalis in a pot. We explain how to do this step by step.
Prepare the plant by cutting it back.
Proper preparation in the form of pruning not only makes it easier to stow the plant. You’ll also encourage more lush growth in the coming season this way, and you’ll also get perfect cuttings that you could use for propagation if you want. Using pruning shears, simply cut the shoots in half. You can now dispose of the branches or use them for propagation:
- To get suitable cuttings from them, you will need to shorten them as well. Keep only the tips of the shoots with a length of about 10 centimeters.
- Make the cut at an angle, as for cut flowers.
- Remove all the leaves except the topmost at the top.
- Fill flower pots (9 cm Ø) with growing soil.
- Put the cuttings in and moisten the soil.
- Place the cuttings in a warm and bright place without direct sunlight.
- Keep the soil moist, but not wet.
What about fruit that is still present but not ripe?
It is quite possible that not all berries have ripened and been harvested by the time you reach the overwintering stage. You don’t have to remove these, because they often still ripen, so you can still enjoy the delicious fruit in winter.
Overwinter physalis plants
So, you overwinter the physalis in a pot. To do this, simply dig them out of the bed, having already harvested ripe fruit, and put them in a pot. You can do this from October. Then look for a suitable winter quarters, ideally cool, but not below 10 degrees cold, and bright. Temperatures should also not exceed 15 degrees, if possible. Water occasionally to prevent the root ball from drying out. If the plant suddenly begins to lose its foliage, it may be because it does not like the location. Usually, places that are too dark and too warm will cause the leaves to drop while you overwinter the physalis.
When can the plant go back outdoors?
Be sure to wait until no more frost is expected. Typically, the Ice Saints are a safe time, so you can follow that. A period of acclimation is recommended, during which the Andean berries can gradually adapt to the conditions outside. Then you can plant them back in the bed and care for them as usual.