Growing Cape Gooseberry, also Golden Berry, Inca Berry

Physalis peruviana : Solanaceae / the nightshade family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

(Best months for growing Cape Gooseberry in USA - Zone 5a regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • P = Sow seed
  • Easy to grow. Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 50°F and 77°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 39 - 59 inches apart
  • Harvest in 14-16 weeks.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Will happily grow in a flower border but tends to sprawl over other plants.
  • Cape Gooseberry plant
  • Flowers
  • unripe fruit

A straggling bush up to one metre tall that bears yellow fruits inside a brown papery envelope. It is perennial. The cape gooseberry is related to tomatillo, ground cherry and husk tomato, all in the genus Physalis.

Cape Gooseberry is very easy to grow and as the fruit are popular with birds the plants can be easily spread around the garden. If you have plenty of room then plants grow better with 1.5 m of space. Spacing closer works but you may get less fruit.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Cape Gooseberry

The berry is the size of a cherry tomato, is very aromatic and full of tiny seeds. They are delicious eaten fresh or can be made into jam. They can be added to salads, desserts and cooked dishes, they are delicious stewed with other fruit, especially apples. They also go well in savoury dishes with meat or seafood. Can be preserved dried as 'Inca Berries'

Your comments and tips

09 Mar 24, Diane (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I have been given some Cape Gooseberry seeds from and existing bush. I see that it is too late to sow these in March. Can these seeds be kept until August, or am I better to discard them and start again at sowing time.
02 Apr 24, Caity (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Diane they will be fine. Just store them dry cool and dark
15 Mar 24, Dave in California Zone 10A (USA - Zone 10a climate)
Diane, I keep seeds from a lot of the common vegetables I grow like spinach, peas, carrots, beans, tomatoes, corn, and such, but I have never grown Cape Gooseberry and do not know what the days for germination are supposed to be, but as general rule I would keep the seeds and maybe start them in trays or pots a few weeks before it's time to transplant them outside. That way you will see how many sprout and then decide if you need to get other seeds. All the seeds I save usually have very good germination rates for a minimum of a couple of years, and I have been getting good results from a lot of the seeds I saved from three and four years ago.
29 Feb 24, Isabel Clarke (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
A colleague gave me 5 or 6 fruit from her tree and said I could just pop the whole fruit into a pot and it will grow? Will it or do I need to open up the fruit and take seed out? Pls can you tell me what to do with them?? Thanks :)
19 Mar 24, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Just break it open and scatter the seeds about 100mm apart - best for when you go to transplant them.
01 Nov 23, Annie (Australia - temperate climate)
I'd like to buy inca berry/ cape gooseberry plants or seeds. Does anyone have some for sale? In Gippsland. TIA
22 Nov 23, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Try the internet seed selling sites.
09 Oct 23, Rowan (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I have a problem with my Cape gooseberries that I have been growing from self seeded plants for several years. The fruit is developing in the shell and can be felt with light pressure to be about pea size. But suddenly the fruit disappears. The shells are still there, green and appear undisturbed i.e no grub or bird holes , but the fruit has gone. It does not appear to be birds as i have netted the plants. I have sprayed the plants with eco oil and there is no obvious sign of insect activity. there has been some nibling of the plants not covered by the nets, probably possums, but no sign of their activity under the nets. Any suggestions?
02 Sep 23, William (USA - Zone 6b climate)
Can you grow cape gooseberries in hardiness zone 6b? Me and my mom want to grow it in our garden next year but i need to do research on them to know.
15 Apr 23, Annabelle (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I have grown tomatillos for several years -they usually grow from self seeding. This season, very strangely a whole lot of seedlings self grew but they have turned into what looks like Cape gooseberries - which I have never grown in my garden at all.. they have the cases and are yellow and small. I am very confused.( I also am harvesting tomatillos at the moment from self seeded plants. Definitely different plants.) Is there some sort of regressive hybrid or genetic weirdness going on here?
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