Introduction about how to grow ground cherries. Ground cherries are not very well known to people. And the interesting thing here is that it can be grown easily with much less effort. They are also very popular by the name “gooseberries”. They have yellow flowers that turn into gooseberries or ground cherries. Also, the plant has large deep green leaves.
If you want to grow and harvest your own ground cherries you must sow the seeds before the average frost last. Well, it is a frost-sensitive plant so make sure to plant it at the end of the cold season. Or you may buy the seedlings from the local nursery and transplant them into your pot.
Learning how to grow ground cherries in your garden is a simple way to add fruits to your garden whether it is a terrace garden, container garden, or backyard. Ground cherries are tasty and give a sweet-tart flavor very much similar to pineapple with a faint background.
Ground cherry is a very fast-growing shrub and it completes its cycle in one season. And before planting it note that except for the fruit all the parts are toxic to humans and pets too.
How To Plant Ground Cherry?
Ground cherries are recommended to grow indoors if you are growing them from seeds. Ensure that you plant the seeds while the frost ends. Loosen the soil and make it moist, add some compost and place your seeds on top of the soil and cover it with soil.
Add a little water to the soil and then daily spray water gently just to keep the soil moist. The seed should germinate within 5-8 days. The fact is that the germination rate is slower in-ground cherry seeds, hence plant more than you need.
Transplant the seedlings after 6-8 weeks into your container, pots, or garden directly once the frost has passed and the soil gets warm. It would be best if you use clay soil to grow them as clay soil has good drainage and the plant needs the same.
Put a couple of inches of compost in the soil before planting the seedling into the soil. Similar to tomatoes, ground cherry sprout roots along with the stem. Don’t overwater them, ground cherries don’t like wet soil much. And raised beds are best for growing ground cherries, especially if you are having heavy clay soil.
Grow Ground Cherry In A Container
If planting in a container, make sure the plant gets plenty of room for the roots. Choose a big one-gallon-sized container and transplant one single plant into it. The container should be large enough so that the plant can sprawl.
Fill the container with clay soil, work some inches of compost on top of the soil and then plant the ground cherry plant that is grown indoors for 6-8 weeks. Keep watering the plant in the container enough so that the soil doesn’t get dry. Groud cherries produce 250-300 fruits per plant and produce non-stop until the frost comes. These plants produce fruits fastly in bright sunlight but it’s okay if you plant them in a shady place.
Do not overwater the plant. And 4-to 6 plants are enough for an average-size American family.
Mulch beneath the plant with shredded leaves and straw about 2 inches to prevent the weeds from growing. It will also help in keeping the soil moist for a long time and keep the fallen fruit clean.
Ground cherries are prolific self-seeders which means that you have to plant them once only. And expect many volunteer plants to show up in the following season.
You can either dig them to plant in the other container or you can just share them with your friends and family who love gardening.
To keep them from sprawling, undersized cages can be used. It will give support to the plant as well.
Ground Cherry Care
Ground cherries thrive best in sun. This means 4-6 hours of direct sunlight is sufficient to grow the groundcherry plant fully. It’s not that they can’t survive in shady locations but they will bear fewer fruits In a shaded region as compared to when placed under the sun.
Although, they can be planted in almost every kind of soil with compost and moisture. But ground cherry plants grow best in well-drained soil (Clay Soil) rich in nutrients having a slightly acidic pH.
Ground cherries requires almost 1 inch of water per week. They like the soil moisted fairly. If the soil gets dry, the flowers may fall resulting in no fruits. So plan the watering according to you. Try to water at least once a day if the weather is hot. Otherwise, you can water them on alternate days when the weather is normal.
Temperature and Humidity
Ground cherries are known to have good heat tolerance. They blooms best in the temperature range of 55 to 65 degrees farhenheit. However, frost can kill the plant, so to protect your plant cover them with row cover or fabric. Talking about the humidity, it’s not an issue with this plant.
Ground cherries grows best when soil is mixed with compost. Spray the plant with dilute fish fertilizer when they set flowers. Try to use organic fertilizer especially for fruits bearing plant.
The cherry plant pollinates itself and will attract bees to your garden.
Common Ground Cherry Problems
Ground cherries are more open to pest flea beetles and whiteflies especially when the plant is drought-stressed. Keep the plant watered regularly to avoid dry conditions. We may occassionaly see the tiny-holes in the leaves caused by the flea beetles. Cover the plant with the row cover to protect them from pests. Make sure to remove the cover when it starts to produce flowers.