Planting and growing cape gooseberries

| April 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

How to grow a cape gooseberries

Growing cape gooseberries

The first cape gooseberry bushes were brought to Australia in the very early colonial days, from South Africa (the Cape). It was often the only fresh fruit the settlers had, and fortunately, it was easy to grow. Whilst cape gooseberries are not overly common these days, they certainly remind me of my childhood having several neighbours who had a bush in the backyard. The fruit is a bright orange globose berry when ripe, enclosed in a pale brown parchment-like case. Cape Gooseberries are similar in size and appearance to a small cherry tomato. Peeling the case back to reveal the berry was always surprisingly rewarding as a child. You also had to be careful to avoid the thorns on the bush.

If you have ever wondered how to grow cape gooseberries in Perth then look no further. Cape gooseberries are a simple plant to grow, but there are still a few tricks to successfully growing cape gooseberries in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant a cape gooseberries:
The best time to plant lime trees is in spring. Although in Perth you can plant most of the year in spring, summer and autumn. You just want to avoid the chance of frost in winter.

How to prune a cape gooseberries in Australia:
The best time to prune gooseberries is in winter to an open vase shape. Choose 3-4 of the strongest branches and cut them back by half. This is important as fruit grows on wood that is at least 1-3 years old. Remove any dead or diseased growth on the bush, any branches growing towards the centre and any low growing shoots at the base of the bush should also be removed.

How often to water cape gooseberries:
Cape Gooseberries require consistent watering to produce their best fruit. Whilst established plants are somewhat drought tolerant they will require regular watering to produce flowers and fruit. Watering will depend on the climate in your part of the country. Here in Perth you should water every 2-3 days in the hotter months. In the cooler parts watering twice a week may be adequate.

How big do cape gooseberry bush grow:
Cape gooseberry bushes will grow approximately 2m wide and about 2m high. So you need a bit of space around the bush when planting it.

How to grow cape gooseberries:
Growing cape gooseberries in the backyard is really quiet simple.

  1. Choose a sunny spot with well drained soil, ensuring there is protection from the hot afternoon sun and strong winds. Enrich the soil with a quality soil improver and plant fertiliser. Add gypsum and fork in well if the gypsum is clay based.
  2. Dig the planting hole, position the bare rooted plant or cutting in centre and back-fill with soil, gently firming down the topsoil. If planting more than one plant, ensure you space them at least 2 m apart. Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant’s root zone to keep the water at the base of the plant. Always water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes in it’s new home.
  3. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as bark chips or pea straw ensuring to keep it away from direct contact with the gooseberry bush to avoid the spread of any potential disease.
  4. Feed in spring and summer with Liquid Plant Food designed for citrus. – A product high in potassium and will encourage flowering and fruiting.
  5. Harvest fruit when they have changed colour to orange. Avoid eating any unripe fruit.

How to grow cape gooseberries in a pot:
Growing cape gooseberries in a pot is a great idea. This means you can grow your own cape gooseberries in almost any size garden or balcony.

  1. Choose a pot at least 40 cm wide. Position in full sun and fill with a high quality potting mix.
  2. Position the bare rooted plant or cutting in the hole and back-fill with potting mix, gently firming down. Water in well.
  3. Water deeply, at least once every 2-3 days to ensure the potting mix is moist – you may need to water more often in warmer conditions.
  4. Mulch around the base with organic mulch like bark chips or pea straw, keeping it the mulch from touching the actual plant.
  5. Feed in spring and summer with Liquid Plant Food designed for citrus. – A product high in potassium and will encourage flowering and fruiting.
  6. Harvest fruit when they have changed colour to orange. Avoid eating any unripe fruit.

Can you grow cape gooseberry from cuttings?
Yes, Cape Gooseberry can be grown from cuttings. Take one or more 10 cm cutting and plant out in small pots until roots form. You can dip the cuttings in some root growing hormone if you have it also.

The best place to take cuttings from the mid section of newer growth. Avoid taking cuttings from the woody stems.

Place the potted cuttings in a location which receives plenty of indirect light and keep the soil lightly moist. Ensure the pots have good drainage in the base so the roots don’t get wet feet.

When to fertilise cape gooseberries:
Feed lime trees in spring, summer and autumn. Apply a fertiliser around the base of the tree and water in well. This will not only help feed the tree but also nourish the soil. It’s best to avoid fertilising when the tree is in flower as it can cause the flowers to fall from the tree.

Cape gooseberry problems:
Cape Gooseberries have a tendency to self-seed. You can minimise this by removing any fallen fruit from the ground. If you are too late then you will need to remove any unwanted seedlings as they emerge before they take over your growing space.

Another potential problem when grown cape gooseberries is birds love them. You can help minimise the damage to fruit by netting your gooseberry bush.

The leaves of the Cape Gooseberry bush and unripened fruit can be toxic to pets. To be safe, keep curious animals such as dogs and cats away from the plants.

Cutworms, spider mites, scale, powdery mildew can also be a problem for cape gooseberries. They are prone to the same problems as local tomatoes and potatoes.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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Category: Fruit trees

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