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sunnibel7

Ground cherries never ripen?

sunnibel7 Md 7
10 years ago

I'm reviewing the garden this year (even better than last year despite some major players having weather-related failure!) and I'm coming up with some questions. Maybe you can help me figure things out and I can refine my plans for next year.

So my first question is about ground cherries. I have been growing them for 3-4 years and it always seems to be the same. They grow, they look great, they fruit, the fruit drops, everything looks papery and brown on the outside but 80-90% of the fruit are still green (and I can't tell until I've opened the husk). Is this normal? So then I put them in a bag or basket to wait for them to ripen. But they never do. They may turn yellowish, but never sweeten, and most of them just stay greenish and dessicate slowly. I really enjoy the ripe ones, but they seem to be so few. So, any ideas?

Comments (34)

  • seysonn
    10 years ago

    I grow tomatillos. They don't ripen like tomato. When the husk is filled and torn a bit and they become slightly yellow, they are done. The taste is often more sour than sweet. That is why they make good salsa. I have never grown ground cherries.

  • ceth_k
    10 years ago

    I have a few plants of this Physalis peruviana but the images on the net show amazing red husk which are so much prettier than mine. I wonder if it is a matter of variety. The berries were mostly green even when the husk turned brown just like op said. I would like to know the secret of growing pretty red ground cherries too.

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  • seysonn
    10 years ago

    The color of the husks has nothing to do with the color of the fruit inside. I have grown tomatillo that had purple husk. The fruits never gets beyond pale green

  • jonfrum
    10 years ago

    By ground cherries, I assume you're talking about the little yellow fruit, and not tomatillos. If so, I grew several plants of Aunt Molly's ground cherry this year, and much of the late production never fully ripened. Even the fruit that had mature husks and fell off the plant was still greenish. Definitely a problem. I did get to eat many of them, but I didn't get a harvest sufficient to make jam or pies.

  • sunnibel7 Md 7
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Jon, yes. Those are what I am talking about and the problem is as you describe. Only it isn't just the late harvest, but from the beginning on for me. Good to know that someone else has had a similar experience.

  • sunnibel7 Md 7
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    There wasn't a lot of action on this question last fall, and it was never answered. So a recent thread about finding seed reminded me- does anyone have any ideas what might be causing the ground cherries I have to not ripen, even though they do all the other things you'd associate with ripening GCs?

  • petalique
    9 years ago

    I'd like to update this thread. I have a similar question.
    Also, some of my husked fruit (or husks) are on the ground, but EMPTY ;( I suppose a chipmunk is helping himself.

    I have two plants and they are sprawling and have _some_ fruit, still green and is husks. Also very small. I will assume that they are not yet ripe (Aug 19th) and will need more time.

    My garden doesn't get full sunlight, unfortunately, and I also have chipmunks and vole-like critters. That is likely why my plants are so sprawled and with meager fruit production.

    Do your plants get full sun? I just saw a YouTube video where a UK gardener was opining that the season likely wasn't long enough where he was and that he was attempting his next batch with plants overwintered in a greenhouse.

    I've grown tomatillos before and those worked out. I may give up on the ground cherries if I can't find a better location and keep the small rodents from harvesting them. Best of luck to you.

    Is

  • wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana
    9 years ago

    I have volunteer ground cherries. I do not know what particular strain they are, but they are capable of producing some fine yellow fruits.

    Ground cherry growing is both an art and a hit and miss too. When I tried to raise them solidly in a row, something made a small hole in them, so I just let selected and scattered plants grow . These plants need to be healthy to produce many fruits. If you wait for the last fruits to mature, some nice earlier ones are spoiled.

  • sunnibel7 Md 7
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    My plants are full sun. I let a number of volunteers grow this year too. Most died from lack of water, but a few thrived and one plant is dropping large, ripe fruit. I'm thinking either ground cherries need more calcium (which they got this year) than is found in my soil or else the genes are pretty random and I've just been having bad luck. Whatever it is I'll be saving seed from the large fruited one, just in case.

  • Slimy_Okra
    9 years ago

    I lose many ground cherries to squirrels, mice and voles.

  • Anne Wolfley
    9 years ago

    Are these the only plants you've had problems with?

    Anne

  • sunnibel7 Md 7
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    I'm not sure if you're asking me or a different poster. But yes, the GCs are the only fruit that never ripen. Tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, okra, melons, squash, all the other summer staples do fine. When I say never ripen, I mean they shrivel upand dry out inside their husk after weeks/months of waiting yet are still green and bitter. The husks always looked brown. But as I said, this year I have at least one plant that produces the way others describe. Just another garden mystery.

  • Anne Wolfley
    9 years ago

    Yes, I was asking you. Sorry. :)

    You said the husks always looked brown. They should start out green and then eventually turn brown once they are ripe. I'm sure that is absolutely no help to you, and you probably know that since one plant is producing this year. I guess you're right that it's a garden mystery.

    Anne

  • sunnibel7 Md 7
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Thanks Anne. :) I meant once the fruit fall off the plant the husks always look brown, before they fall off they go from green to yellow.

  • lilyd74 (5b sw MI)
    9 years ago

    I have the same issue with my ground cherries; don't know what causes it, but I didn't want you to feel alone. I get a few that ripen, but most fall when they're still green and don't get any more yellow. I've been following this thread and hoping for answers too.

  • Slimy_Okra
    9 years ago

    sunnibel,

    Are you sure the ripe ones aren't being stolen by rodents? They would leave behind the unripe ones, which would explain your situation.

  • sunnibel7 Md 7
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Slimy- about as sure as I can be without a camera monitoring it! But really it is that they do not ripen when brought inside after collecting fallen fruit.

    I thought the premise was that the fruit only fall off the plant when ripe or very near ripe- the husk is yellow to brown and papery dry. So when you scoop them off the ground you bring them in and let them sit a couple of days or so then open your husks to hopefully find ripe fruit. What I have been finding is distinctly greenish fruit in a brown husk and those fruit stay green for so long (weeks, months) I eventually toss them. There are usually a few that are actually ripe.

    Lily, thanks for the commiseration! If I ever figure it out, I'll pass along the info!

  • cedar_wa
    9 years ago

    Just came home from our 4-H daycare garden. The Ground Cherries (Aunt Molly) are ripe this year and a big hit with the kids. I have heard that they are poisonous until they fall off the plant. I warned the kids that they need to carefully pull up the leaves to find the ripe ones on the ground. This is an unusually warm sunny summer here in PNW so there should be a lot of GC until fall. I tasted some and very sweet - almost like a cherry. The fruit was almost the size and color of sungold tomato.

  • e t
    6 years ago

    2017, and I still haven't found the answer! So many of them in their brown husks, but so green after weeks. It feels like such a waste that they are not good to eat (solanine), I don't want to throw them!

  • wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana
    6 years ago

    I find that some of the fruits do not produce nice yellow berries and some of them turn out nice. This year I have a ground cherry plant that is producing extra large fruits. I am saving some for seed and hope to produce a larger fruit. It isn't the soil there as other nearby plants have regular sized fruits.

  • DonInFLX (NY, 6a)
    6 years ago

    They will ripen after being picked but they need to pass a blushing threshold. My plants grew and ripened beautifully but I didn't care for the taste--on the other hand I found some growing wild nearby that are delicious..

  • chaesobat
    5 years ago

    Hi. This year is my first attempt growing ground cherries. (MMMMMMmmmm!!!) And to add to the uncertainty, it's my first year growing a garden in South Korea! I have had the same problem with non-ripe ground cherries falling off the bushes.


    Can anyone confirm the earlier suggestion that too little sun might be the culprit? How 'bout exceedingly hot/humid weather with no rain (I've been watering regularly tho).


    The earliest ones (mid-July) were mostly ripe, but the later harvests have been about 30% green inside and out, 50% yellow-green inside with a husk anywhere from green to dry brown, and 20% orange-green inside but still with a husk from green to dry brown.


    It's mid-August now and the ones I started latest are still producing. It should be getting down to a normal summer temperature in a week or two (which equals Fall in Korea). Maybe they will start doing better when the temperature and humidity get less extreme?

  • andrew shulman
    4 years ago

    I'm having a weird problem with almost all of my ground cherry plants. The berry, while still on the plant, ends up poking through the paper. it's hard to describe but it's like the paper doesn't grow with the berry and the berry just pokes through the end. Has anybody else had this happen? Any suggestion?


  • Leslie
    3 years ago

    A year to the date, LOL! Yes Andrew, I’ve had the same problem with some of my ground cherries too. The berry just kind of grows outside the end of the husk, and it never really gets large or ripens. I don’t know what the solution is, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m familiar with what you’re describing.

    I am also having the same issue as the OP of this thread was 6 years ago...husks turn brown and fall to the ground, but a lot of the fruits are still greenish. This is my 1st year growing these, and this is a bit disappointing.

  • Leslie
    3 years ago

    Oh wow, those look great! I was able to gather enough ripe cherries to make salsa the other day, and it was delicious! My ground cherry plants are also in a container...one large container, and it gets full sun the entire day. The soil was amended and it’s on a regular watering schedule, not counting the rain. Aside from the green cherries, another concern of mine is that my plants are extremely tall, 5’-5.5’) and from what I’ve seen online/YouTube, that doesn’t seem to be the norm. All others that I’ve seen have been maybe 2’-3’ tall, and bushy. They are producing a ton of cherries though...but most are greenish when they fall. They are also difficult to trellis, but they fall over and the stalks bend if they aren’t properly supported. I can’t figure out what’s going wrong with my plants, and I’ve even sent an email to Baker Creek for advice. I’m glad that your plants are doing so well, and that we’ve both discovered this little treasure! I plan on growing them next year, so I’ll keep trying until I get it right, Lol!

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    3 years ago

    It helps to keep the plants well watered. If water stressed, the plants may not wilt, but will drop many of the fruits prematurely. I've grown Aunt Mollies in the past, but am growing Goldie at present. Well, not exactly "growing" intentionally... more like allowing a few of the hundreds of volunteers to survive, at the garden edges.

    Some years the mice will harvest nearly every fruit that falls; but because they were attacking the garden heavily this year, I put out 40-50 traps, and have had few problems since.

    A note on transplants. Unlike tomatoes, ground cherries tend to put down a long tap root. Because that tap root can't form in shallow containers, transplants are less vigorous than volunteers, or seeds direct-seeded into the ground. Volunteers are generally healthier, and because ground cherries have a very short DTM, they will still have time to produce heavily. Mine are ripening by the hand full now.

  • HU-136475407
    3 years ago

    I’ve still not heard a reason why the Cherri’s are green inside. The outside looks perfect but inside never ripens. Collect the ones that fall on the ground,I didn’t know that. Are they poisonous if not ripe? Bring them in the hou se and then what? My bushes are tall and sprawling but only the limbs on the ground make cherries. Should I trim the bush down?

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    3 years ago

    Under ideal conditions, ground cherries drop when ripe, and those are the ones which are eaten. They should never be picked off the plant. If ground cherries fall from the plant prematurely (the green ones) they will not ripen further with time... green ones stay green. Premature drops can be caused by dry soil, rough handling, strong winds, or heavy rainfall. A couple days of strong thunderstorms knocked many of mine down this week.

    Green ground cherries should not be eaten. They won't kill you, but will likely cause upset stomach if you eat too many. I've eaten a few half-ripe ground cherries mixed with ripe ones, and had no ill effects.

    Its worth mentioning that while the green ones should not be eaten, the seed within is mature. If the green ones are thrown on the ground, many seeds will germinate the following Spring... maybe even hundreds. That's why I never have to plant them. ;-) ....(The same can be said of tomatillos.)

    Other than cutting off a branch that was in the way, I've never trimmed ground cherries; but I don't see why not, as long as it is less than 1/2 of the plant.

  • armyofda12mnkeys
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Alot of mine are unripe sometimes when windy weather knocks them off (or when watering the plant as its a bit sensitive), and the fruit just needs to be place indoors in front of a sunny window (or just leave outdoors on a window sill or even in a pot on a outdoor table that gets sun) to fully ripen.

    I just open the husk to check to see if it needs a window-ripening (or if the husk is even green then i know it doesn't even need to be opened and just place it on the window).

    I think someone said they don't ripen when knocked off prematurely. I would say most do (at least most of the ones that aren't fully yellow yet but 'kinda green-yellow' will ripen).

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    2 years ago

    And if you forget them on the window sill - or even leave some in a basket & forget about them - they will become raisin-like. I have some from last year that are still soft.

  • wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana
    2 years ago

    I have had volunteers by the thousands. This year I let them volunteer along the edges of a lightly raised watermelon bed. ...spaced out every couple feet. This has worked out tremendously well. I have been harvesting every few days for a month and have gallons f them in empty garden flats curing in a covered patio that is screened. I am finding that about 75 % are ripening to the desired yellowness. Some will never get there.

  • wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana
    2 years ago

    I am still learning! Instead of storing the harvest, husk the ripe ones after letting them set in the warm sun in flats during the day for a couple days...really speed up ripening.

  • Sharon Goodman
    last year

    My GC are drying and turning into seed packets on the plant before they drop. Any thoughts as to what's wrong?