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Physalis peruviana, a very different nightshade

Physalis peruviana  little by little has been gaining followers and uses for the preparation of desserts. However, we find it curious to think that this plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, such as pepper, tomato, potato or eggplant.

In this guide we tell you what its main characteristics are and a small Physalis cultivation guide .

ORIGIN AND ADAPTATION OF PHYSALIS PERUVIANA

The plant of the genus Physalis is native to South America but has managed to adapt in North America and even reach Europe and grow spontaneously (although it is not very common to find it).

In hot European countries such as Spain or Italy, it is completely adapted, being able, without many difficulties, to cultivate it if we wish.

There are a large number of varieties of agronomic interest, some for the edibility of their fruits and others for their undoubted decorative character. The latter are also known as a Chinese lantern or Chinese lantern. Although we associate nightshades with aubergines, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, this plant is also so.

In fact, its fruit (spherical-oval of about 2-3 cm in diameter) reminds of a tomato when we open it, due to the arrangement of the seeds. If it weren’t for its orange color, we’d almost mistake it for a Cherry tomato .

DECORATIVE APPEARANCE OF PHYSALIS PERUVIANA

The Physalis is somewhat unusual. When the flower curdles to form the fruit, the calyx continues to develop, enveloping the fruit. This wrap has a protective purpose against extreme conditions, pests, diseases.

It is a physical barrier that keeps the fruit out of adversity. These 5 sepals that surround the fruit are what give the plant grace.

PHYSALIS PERUVIANA CULTIVATION GUIDE

WEATHER

First of all you must know the type of climate to which it is adapted. It is a warm climate plant. Although it is adapted to Europe, this statement must be taken with a grain of salt.

It does not withstand the cold well (growth stops) and with frost the plant can die without much difficulty.

I USUALLY

In this respect he is quite tolerant. The only thing to watch out for is drainage . The ponding does not take it well. On the other hand, the pH should be close to neutral, being slightly tolerant to alkalinity.

Taking this into account, we will have complied with the ground section. If you wish, you can plant it in a planter without problems.

IRRIGATION

In this aspect we cannot neglect it too much. That it does not lack water but we will avoid copious irrigations that puddle too much. More frequent and less abundant waterings are preferable .

STAGING NEEDS OF PHYSALIS PERUVIANA

This point is the most important. Being herbaceous (although it lignifies with time), its stems are delicate and do not withstand strong winds well, so the more directed and subject it is, the less problems we will have.

If our idea is the ornamental aspect, the trellis becomes more important (aesthetics) since by correctly directing the plant, we will achieve the “Chinese lantern” effect with more grace.

COLLECTION AND MULTIPLICATION

The time of harvest is very well defined by the state of the fruit shell. When they yellow and dry, it will be time to pick them up and enjoy them.

To multiply them, we can do it by seeds. It has a high germination power. They will be sown in spring under controlled conditions (protected seedbed) at about 25 ºC.

When the cotyledons develop, we will be able to make a peal to strengthen and favor the development of both the root and foliar parts.

Here you have what you need to venture to plant Physalis peruviana . If you prefer them to decorate, you can always get Physalis alkekengi . Both the fruit and the sepals are red.

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