Cape Gooseberries

Cape Gooseberries

The Cape gooseberry (Physalis edulis) is a quick-growing annual or perennial fruit plant that originates in South America. It has been grown extensively in many parts of South Africa for the little golden berries that are produced in abundance, on bushes that can reach a height of about 1m. It is grown commercially to produce jams and stewed gooseberries for desserts. It is not to be confused with the English gooseberry, a popular plant in the colder temperate zones. Cape gooseberries are easy to grow from seed and well worth cultivating if space permits.

How to achieve success with Cape gooseberries

  • Grow them in full sun in almost any
    well-drained soil – they even cope
    with poor or impoverished soils.
  • You can grow them all year round in
    frost-free climates.
  • They thrive in an open, exposed
    area where the plants can literally
    grow wild. They have a rather untidy
    growth habit.

Grow from Seed
What you need
A seed tray, Cape gooseberry seed, seedling growing medium, water and vermiculite (optional).
What to do
1. Fill the seed tray with seedling growing medium. Press down firmly and level.
2. Scatter seeds evenly over the surface. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of soil (no more than 5mm deep). Alternatively, use vermiculite as a covering. Press or firm down once again to keep the seeds in place.
3. Water well. Keep the tray in a warm, sheltered position for germination to take place.
4. Transplant seedlings, when they are about 10cm tall, into well prepared garden beds. Space them 90cm apart.
5. They take approximately 180 days from sowing to harvest.
Follow this recipe to make a fruity cape gooseberry trifle for your dessert table!

The Gardener