How to Grow Physalis


Physalis is a group of plants best known for its Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekeni), tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa) and husk-tomato (Physalis pruinosa) varieties. Physalis is grown for both its ornamental features and its fruit, which is harvested in the fall. Chinese lantern is harvested after its lantern-shaped fruits turn an orange color and is used in fall decorations. Tomatillo and husk-tomato fruits are harvested for culinary purposes, including for use in salads, desserts and jams.

Step 1

Choose a planting site in full sun or partial shade, which equates to four or more hours of sunlight per day.

Step 2

Till the soil with a hoe or tiller to loosen it to a depth of about 4 to 6 inches. Phyalis tolerates most soil conditions and soil does not usually need any amendments, such as compost or sand.

Step 3

Scatter the seeds seven to 14 days after the last expected spring frost, and work them into the soil about a 1/2-inch deep. Or, start the seeds indoors in seed trays six weeks earlier and transplant outdoors, usually about 2 to 3 feet apart.

Step 4

Water seeds slowly with an inch of water. Continue to water one to two times a week to keep the soil slightly moist from spring until fall.

Step 5

Thin seedlings once they begin to grow so they are spaced about 2 to 3 feet apart, which differs among varieties. Keep the healthiest seedlings.

Step 6

Cut physalis to the ground in the fall after the first frost. They are usually hardy down to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 2 and will grow back in the spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe or tiller
  • Water
  • Hand clippers


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Physalis
  • Heritage Perennials: Physalis alkekengi
  • Plant Biology: Guide to Growing Chinese Lanterns -
Keywords: grow physalis, Chinese latern plants, grow tomatillo, grow husk-tomato

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.