So you want to grow a cape gooseberry plant indoors? This near-magical berry is an excellent choice for growing in your house or apartment because they can be pruned and easily kept as a manageable bush.
Cape gooseberries are also known as ground cherries, the golden berry or the Indian gooseberry but the official botanical name is physalis angulata.
When you bite into a Cape gooseberry they have the texture of tomato and taste mostly tarty but kind of sweet at the same time, kind of like a mix between a sweet tomato and pineapple or berry, you should try them to find out.
I would definitely recommend growing these delightful golden berries so read on and I’ll tell you how to grow a cape gooseberry plant indoors…
To grow a cape gooseberry plant indoors use a 10-inch pot with some sandy or gravelly soil. Position your plant somewhere that gets 6-10 hours sunlight daily, water it regularly during the hot months and surprisingly don’t use any fertilizer as it encourages foliage growth taking energy from fruit growth.
What varieties of cape gooseberry are there?
There are five varieties of cape gooseberry.
If you want to eat it raw like in salads or simply pick it and eat it then the giallo rosso would be the best-tasting variety for this purpose.
The giant cape gooseberry has large scrumptious tasting berries and it can grow up to 5 feet tall, however, it does take longer for the berries of this variety to grow.
The giant poha berry has a different appearance to the other varieties as it has fuzzy and grayish leaves, these berries grow to about an inch in diameter.
The golden berry has more flavor and is sweeter than other varieties, it is frost resistant and the berries grow to around 2 inches but it does take approximately 18 months to bear fruit.
The long aston is another variety of golden berry that has a rich golden color. Whatever variety you choose to grow you are in for a treat from this berry that has many health benefits.
How to germinate cape gooseberry seeds
First, you need to get your hands on some cape gooseberry seeds, you can do this either by buying seeds or by collecting seeds from a cape gooseberry you have grown or bought from a store.
To collect seeds from a cape gooseberry you want to use an overripe berry that is soft and give it a squeeze over some paper towels, the seeds will ooze out with the liquid and land on the paper towels.
Next, fill a small pot with potting soil and put a layer of seeds across the top (always use more than required as it’s impossible to tell how many will actually germinate) then put a thin layer of potting soil across the top of the seeds so they are barely covered.
Keep the seeds moist and warm until they sprout which could take between 2-6 weeks. Select the biggest and strongest of these seedlings to repot and grow as your cape gooseberry plant.
What sort of pot should I use for a cape gooseberry plant?
Cape gooseberries don’t have the largest root system so you won’t need a massive pot to grow a healthy specimen that produces berries.
My cape gooseberries are in 10-inch pots and have grown to about 2 feet high and are producing berries.
Cape gooseberries normally only grow to be between 1-3 feet tall so are perfect for growing indoors in a pot or container.
What sort of soil should I use for cape gooseberries?
Cape gooseberries are not difficult to grow and will grow in practically any well-drained soil but surprisingly does best in low fertility sandy or even gravelly soil.
I use a sandy loam potting soil mix for my cape gooseberries and they grow to around 2 feet tall and produce berries so this is the soil I would recommend as it works for me.
How much light do cape gooseberries require?
Cape gooseberries are native to sunny hot countries like Peru, Chile and South Africa but they can be grown in the northern hemisphere where they will bear fruit later in the season.
I have my cape gooseberries on a windowsill that is south facing and they get around 8 hours light daily.
To grow a cape gooseberry plant indoors I believe they will do fine if you get them 6-12 hours light daily.
If you will struggle to get them enough light I would recommend you use an LED grow light as they are very affordable and inexpensive to use daily.
How often should I water my cape gooseberry plant?
Cape gooseberries do like quite a lot of water but will become unhealthy if left in excess standing water and will become dormant in times of drought.
To get the most berries at harvest time cape gooseberry plants like a consistent watering routine, how much water is required will change depending on your local climate.
To find out how much I water my plants required I stick my finger in the soil and when the top 2 inches are dry it’s time to water.
I give my plants about 800 millimeters or water every day during the summer growing season.
What temperature is best for cape gooseberry plants?
Cape gooseberries are native to countries that have hot temperatures so they do like heat, if they get to anything close to freezing temperatures they will more than likely die.
I don’t pay much attention to the temperature of the room I have my cape gooseberries in, it’s basically standard household temperature and they are thriving in those conditions.
I would just recommend you don’t let the temperature get anywhere near freezing and your cape gooseberries will do fine.
What is the best fertilizer for cape gooseberries in a pot?
The best fertilizer for cape gooseberries is to not use any.
You read that correct, cape gooseberries do best in a state of neglect and if you use fertilizer it will likely encourage foliage growth which takes away the energy from fruit production.
Just make sure your plant gets enough water and sunlight and you are good to go.
How to prune cape gooseberries in a pot
Pruning a cape gooseberry plant is not a requirement to keep it healthy.
The reason you may want to prune your plant is to control the size it grows to.
To prune your cape gooseberry plant into a manageable bush size you should use the pinching technique.
The pinching technique is what it says, simply pinch the tip off stems that are growing up the way and it will encourage more growth to occur out the way.
Below is a video that shows the pinching technique on several different plants.
How to pollinate an indoor cape gooseberry plant?
Cape gooseberries are self-pollinating, which means the flowers have both the male and female part.
In the wild, this would mean all they need is a bit of wind and they will pollinate themselves, indoors you might need to give them a bit of help.
To help pollinate your cape gooseberry plant the easiest way is to simply give your plant a good shake.
If you want to be more precise in pollinating your plant you could use the paintbrush technique.
Take a small paint brush and brush inside your flowers so that you move the pollen around and help with the pollination, do this in every flower and it will help your plant produce lots of berries.
When to pick cape gooseberries from a potted plant
How long it takes for your cape gooseberry plant to have ripe berries that are ready to harvest depends on what variety you have chosen to grow and what your local climate is like.
It will take roughly 100 days from when the flowers appear to the fruit being ready to harvest.
The husk will turn from green to brown when they are ready to be harvested, on most varieties.
The best way to tell if the berries are ready is to give your plant a good shake and the ripe berries will fall off, this helps avoid picking unripe cape gooseberries which are said to be poisonous.
How to store freshly picked cape gooseberries
After you have picked your cape gooseberries they will continue to ripen especially if you leave them on a windowsill.
I store my freshly picked berries in a sealed container in the refrigerator and they stay good for a few days.
Usually, I just eat them as a nibble so 3 days is long enough for me.
I always leave the brown husk on until I am ready to use them as that seems to prolong the time they stay ripe.
If you want to keep them for a longer period you could freeze them immediately when you pick them and they will stay good for a couple of months.
What to do if your cape gooseberry plant stops producing fruit
The first thing you will want to check if your cape gooseberry plant stops producing fruit is have you been giving your plant too much water or not enough water as if you get this wrong your plant might not produce fruit.
Did you help your plant with pollination?
If you didn’t help your indoor cape gooseberry plant with pollination by using one of the methods mentioned in the pollination section above there is a good chance no fruit will be produced.
Your plant may be past its best as cape gooseberry plants will normally produce berries for up to three years then they will gradually produce fewer berries until they completely stop producing.
To grow a cape gooseberry plant outdoors
The cape gooseberry will grow in practically any conditions but will do best in well-drained sandy or gravelly soil.
These plants need very little care when you have planted them and are said to thrive on neglect.
Just make sure they get enough water during the summer months as drought will cause them to become dormant.
The best time to plant cape gooseberries outside is any time after the last frost as they do not like frost, they prefer a moderate climate.
If you live in an area that gets frost during the winter you may want to grow them in a pot so you can move them somewhere protected from frost during the cold winter months.
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