Cape Gooseberry

If you fancy growing something a little bit different in your garden, greenhouse or polytunnel, why not give cape gooseberries a go? In spite of the name, these are not actually anything to do with gooseberries – they are related to the tomato and the tomatillo and in taste they are a unique and rather sweet mixture of tomato and pineapple.

Growing Cape Gooseberries:

Cape gooseberries are not hardy and if grown outside they will need some frost protection over the winter. These plants grow best in a warm, sheltered spot in full sun, though they will tolerate a little shade.

Cape gooseberries do better in more northern sections of the UK if they are grown under cover in a polytunnel or greenhouse. They are good for growing in pots and as long as the soil they are in is free-draining, they do not really mind if it is low in nutrients. In fact, if the cape gooseberry is fertilised too much it will put all its energy into making leaves and you will not see much fruit.

Cape gooseberries can be grown fairly easily from seed. Don't give up on them – the seeds take longer to germinate than those of many other plants. Plant seeds into damp potting compost and water carefully and consistently. Seeds need to be kept in a warm place in order to germinate.

When a few true leaves have developed the cape gooseberries should be slowly allowed to become accustomed to those outdoors conditions before being moved to their final positions outside or in the polytunnel or greenhouse. Hardening off time will vary but can take from 5-10 days.

Cape gooseberries should not be planted outside or in unheated outside space until all danger of frost in your area has passed. It is a good idea to plant them in pots because you can then bring the plants inside when the weather turns cold and overwinter them indoors. Otherwise, in most of the UK, cape gooseberries will need to be planted again from seed each year.

When mature, cape gooseberries can grow to between 1 and 3 ft in height. Cape gooseberry can be grown not just from seed but also from cuttings taken from mature plants.

Why grow Cape Gooseberries in the garden?

Cape Gooseberries are delicious as part of a fruit salad. They can be used as toppings on deserts and are also very nice coated in chocolate as a special treat. You can also make jams or jellies with cape gooseberries or dry them for later use. 

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Physalis peruviana