Physalis

Common name: Ground Cherry, Chinese/Japanese Lantern

Physalis is a hardy invasive perennial, native to southern Europe, and further east through southern Asia to Japan.

The wide-spreading root system can send up new shoots some distance from where the parent plant was originally planted.

For this reason it might be prudent to grow it in bottomless pots to keep the roots under control.

It is herbaceous and can grow to 400–600mm (16"-24") tall, with spiraling leaves up to 125mm (5") long and up to 90mm (4") wide.

The flowers are white, with a five lobed corolla 12– 19mm (½"-¾") across, with an inflated basal calyx which matures into the papery orange fruit.

They flower in July and are followed by globular orange fruits, enclosed in an orange-red papery calyx which resemble lanterns, hence the common name.

These make useful dried flowers for winter decoration.

Cultivation

Week 16: Plant out seedlings sown the previous year in a sunny spot if ground conditions allow.

Lift and divide established plants and replant the separated pieces immediately.

Take root cuttings at the same time if required.

Week 18: Sow seed in pots / trays of seed compost and germinate them at a temperature of 10°- 12°C (50°- 55°F)

When the seedlings are large enough to handle, either transplant them into a nursery bed, or 100mm (4”) pots, growing these in a coldframe until planting out time.

Week 27: Cut the fruiting stems when the calyces begin to show colour and hang them in bunches upside-down in a light, airy shed to dry.

When the stems and fruits are dry, remove the withered leaves.

Week 42: Cut off the invasive underground runners with a spade and dig them out.

These can be potted up and treated as root cuttings if required.





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