Are searching for ways on how to grow ground cherries? Then this article might be just what you are looking for. We have provided all information regarding growing ground cherries in your garden. Keep reading to know more about ground cherries and what you need to care for them while the plant is growing.
Ground cherries or sp. Physalis pruinosa have a long history in growing in Norther America even though its not a popular plant to grow in the garden. The most popular variety used as garden plants is the Aunt Molly’s which was cultivated by displaced Germans in Pennsylvania in the 1800s.
These plants are easy to grow in your garden and have very little pest and disease problems. These plants offer small, orange-yellow fruits that have sweat and tart flavor tasting similar to pineapple.
Ground cherries are part of the Solanaceae plant family, the same family as tomatoes. Hence, why the fruit looks similar to tomatoes bit with green husk also called green husk. Inside this green husk the fruit grows.
These plants grow like small, sprawling shrubs with leaves that are green and with toothed edges. The flowers in plants are yellow and bloom during summer before bearing fruits. Fruits generally grow during the late summer to early fall season.
The fruit needs to be eaten after removing the green husk. A point of note that you should know before planting ground cherries seeds is that all parts of the plant are toxic except the fruit within the green husk.
How To Grow Ground Cherries And Care For Them?
Here’s how you can grow ground cherry in your garden.
Planting Ground Cherries
Start by planting ground cherry seeds in soil in an pot indoors and let it grow for six to eight weeks early spring. After the seeds have germinated into a small plant it in your garden.
Selecting a Planting Site
You cannot plant your ground cherry plants anywhere in your garden although cherries grow traditionally in raised beds or containers or in garden bed. Select a garden place that gets lots of sunlight as ground cherries need lots of sunlight to grow. Also see to it that you have well-draining pots or containers and well-draining soil to grow your ground cherry plants.
Avoid places in your garden where there are large trees or shrubs that might shade your ground cherry plants. Choose an open area with open sky to plant your ground cherries.
Spacing, Depth, and Support
While planting your ground cherry plants keep space in between each plant of about two feet. When planting your ground cherry plants in the soil plant it in the similar depth as the depth it was germination in the previous container. Plant the seeds in about 1/4 inch soil.
Place a support cage or stakes or any support structures that will help the plant from falling due to the weight of the fruits.
How To Care For Ground Cherries?
Here’s how you can care for your ground cherries by knowing all the information need to grow the ground cherry plants.
Ground cherry plants are tolerant to most types of soil. But they prefer well-draining soil with slight acidic pH and organic matter.
Ground cherries love sunlight and needs at least six hours of direct sunlight to grow well. When they don’t get this amount of sunlight, the plant grows less fruits. So keep your ground cherry plant in a place where it gets lots of sunlight. When overwintering keep the plant in windowsill or indoor areas where you get lots of natural light.
Ground cherries prefer moist soil but not soggy soil. So per week water your plant an inch of water and keep a check on the soil to see if its dry. In dry climate or conditions, the plants bloom flowers but drop before producing any fruits.
So if there is not any rainfall then weekly water the plant. When its hot water the plant when needed keeping in mind not to make the soil soggy.
Temperature And Humidity
Ground cherries can tolerate heat especially up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in their growing zones. But the perfect temperature for ground cherry plant is between 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Frost can kill ground cherry plants. So if you live in a colder region make it a houseplant where you can control the temperature with your thermostat.
You can also overwinter your cherries by covering it with a cold frame to protect them from frost. Cold frame helps get the plant light as well as retain heat within the plants environment.
Ground cherries don’t have such issues with humidity.
Ground cherries loves soil mixed with compost. If you can collect all the organic waste from your kitchen or garden and create a compost bucket in your garden. Then let it sit to rot for 8 to 12 days and then mix that compost with your garden soil before planting the ground cherry plants.
If you have poor quality soil mixing organic fertilizers with compost will do great for you ground cherry plant.
Ground cherries can self-pollinate by attracting bees or other pollinators in your garden.
Types of Ground Cherries
There are several kinds of ground cherries that you can choose from to plant in your garden. Some of the cherries varieties are given below.
- Aunt Molly’s– the most common variety of it are Aunt Molly’s that grows bushy and upright.
- Goldie– Goldie are similar variety of it like Aunt Molly’s except they are low-growing plants that love spreading its foliage.
- Cossack Pineapple- This ground cherries variety are known for their sweet and tangy fruits that taste like pineapples.
Common Plant Diseases And Pests Found In Ground Cherries
Ground cherry plants usually don’t get as such diseases or pests unlike it’s family species like tomatoes and tomatillos plants. But cherries have struggles with insects like cutworms, flea beetles, hornworms, and whiteflies that often attack the plants when weaken by droughts.
Fungal issues can also be seen in the plants when the plant does not have good air circulation in its surroundings.
Now that you know all about growing and caring for ground cherries are you ready to grow it in your garden. Gardening is said to be one of the most calming ways to relax our minds. Hence why most people love doing gardening.
The best part of gardening is the results you get after a few months and your fruits of labor is nothing short of an achievement.