The heat-loving Physalis is often only cultivated as an annual. But did you know that it hibernates and can live for several years? We give tips on how to overwinter Physalis.
The Physalis ( Physalis peruviana ), also called Andean berries, is now enjoying great popularity in English-speaking countries. The useful plant, which belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), originally comes from South America, where it is a perennial shrub. During the summer we can harvest the berries en masse, surrounded by a rustling lantern cover. However, in autumn the leaves of the physalis begin to fall.
The Physalis is often cultivated as an annual plant in our latitudes. The South American woman, who needs warmth, barely survives the winter outdoors in this country, but if it is frost-free over the winter, the Physalis can grow, flourish and bear fruit in our country for several years. Overwintered plants even bear fruit more quickly than their freshly sown counterparts. In this article, you will learn how to get your physalis safely through the winter.
Hibernating physalis: is physalis hardy?
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In our latitudes, the Physalis plant is not hardy and is therefore often cultivated as an annual. Although there are newer breeds that have a higher tolerance to cold, most Physalis varieties stop at a permanent temperature of below 10 ° C. Temperatures around zero are also tolerated once. The whole plant can then also die off or typical cold damage such as black spots or strong purple color on the leaves. The Physalis cannot tolerate frost and so it should be wintered by mid to late October at the latest.
How can you overwinter Physalis?
There are two tried and tested methods of overwintering Physalis: One is to put the plant in a pot and overwinter in a cool, bright room. The other method allows us to multiply the physalis at the same time: You can cut cuttings from the existing plant and potted them.
Cut back physalis before overwintering and multiply
Before the Andean berries overwinter, the many shoots are cut back. On the one hand, this has the advantage that the plant can be overwintered more easily without the long, bulky shoots. On the other hand, the physalis branches out in the next spring and thus grows bushier. Cut the shoots back in half with a pair of secateurs before putting your physalis to winter.
The shoot tips of each cut shoot can now also be used as head cuttings for propagation: To do this, cut the cuttings off at an angle to about 10 cm in length with a sharp knife. Then all leaves are removed, except those at the tip of the shoot. Now put the cutting in prepared pots with a diameter of about 9 cm, which is filled with a nutrient-poor substrate.
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With high humidity and in a bright but not sunny location, the cuttings need about two weeks to form sufficient roots. You can achieve high humidity, for example, with the help of a cover: A transparent plastic bag, a bell jar, or a greenhouse are suitable, for example. However, all covers should be aired regularly, otherwise, fungal infections can occur.
During the rooting phase, the substrate must never dry out, but also not be dripping wet. Therefore it has to be watered a little regularly. If the first leaflets develop again, it speaks for successful rooting. Now they are allowed to grow slowly at around 15 to 20 ° C and as much light as possible. Once the young plants have rooted the entire substrate after a few weeks, they are transferred to more nutrient-rich soil and a larger pot. After the ice saints next May, the young plants are finally allowed to go outside.
Tip: Mix the potting soil for the Physalis cuttings with 20 to 30% perlite to ensure better ventilation of the shoot base. This significantly reduces the risk of rot and the cuttings root faster and better.
Hibernate physalis in a pot
Fully grown physalis from the garden is overwintered in the pot, as this makes them handy and easy to move. The pot with the Physalis plant is put inside from October and the plant hibernates in a light, cool and frost-free environment at 10 to 15 ° C. The winter garden or a well-insulating garden shed with a frost guard are ideal for this. If unripe fruits are still hanging on the plant during winter, they should not be removed, as the berries usually still ripen on the plant. You can enjoy these rare delicacies in the cold season. To prevent dehydration, the physalis should be watered regularly with small amounts of water.
Note: Physalis can be overwintered in the apartment if there is a sunny, bright and, above all, cooler location there. If the physalis is too dark and too warm, it suffers and quickly throws off all the leaves.
Hibernate physalis in the garden
Perennial Andean berries cannot be overwintered in the bed because they are too sensitive to low temperatures. Even with winter protection, she wouldn’t survive. You should therefore dig up the Physalis plants for the winter before the first frost in October and move them to a sufficiently large pot. Place it in the chosen winter quarters and water sparingly throughout the winter.
Tip: When planting out next year, you should definitely wait for the ice saints in mid-May. Only then is the Physalis allowed to go outside again.
Summary hibernating physalis:
- Winter the Physalis in October before the first frost, avoiding temperatures below 10 ° C in the long term.
- Cut the Andean berries back in half. If necessary, cut cuttings, put them in nutrient-poor soil, let them root light and moist.
- Dig up and pot plants in the bed. Put physalis in a pot in a light, cool place to overwinter (10 – 15 ° C).
- Water regularly, even in winter quarters, but little to avoid rot.
- Plant out next year from mid-May after the ice saints.
After the overwintered Physalis have been planted out in May, summer will soon follow, and with it the maintenance measures on the Andean berries. You can find tips on how to properly care for your physalis in our special article.