The genus is characterized by the small orange fruit similar in size, shape and structure to a small tomato, but partly or fully enclosed in a large papery husk derived from the calyx. Many Physalis species are called groundcherries. One name for Physalis peruviana is Cape Gooseberry, not to be confused with the vast majority of gooseberries, which are of the genus Ribes.
These plants grow in most soil types and do very well in poor soils and in pots. They need lots of water throughout the growing year, except towards fruit-ripening time. Afternoon sun. Plants are susceptible to many of the common tomato diseases and pests; other pests such as aphids, white flies, spider mites, and the false potato beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta) also attack them. Propagation is by seed. Some species are self-incompatible and require multiple plants for fruit set. The plant grows long the ground. I use a tomato cage to keep it in one area. Just bend up the branches and tangle them in the cage.
This plant is easy to grow. It’s best to keep it in a pot in colder climates and bring it in doors during the winter months. It is a perennial in most locations in the US. The fruit are ripe when the outer casing turns brown and dry.
The fruit tastes great! It makes great ingredients for deserts. It can be frozen to be eaten in the winter. Freeze it on a tray lined with parchment paper. When frozen, put them in a freezer bag of reusable plastic container to prevent water evaporation.
Where to buy: The plant is not known or popular in garden centers or nurseries. You can get the seeds or plants on line. Just look up Cape Gooseberries. They are many venders willing to sell you a plant. You can also go to local college Plant sales. This plant is common for them, but not for the main stream.