Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry Seeds


Aunt Molly’s ground cherry has a long and rich history thanks to its great taste and high yields of nutritious golden fruits. This open-pollinated heirloom was most likely brought from Europe by Polish immigrants during the early 1800s. First noted in 1837 in Pennsylvania by botanist William Darlington, it made its way into the 1920 seed catalogue of the Walter Schell seed company of the same region. 

This sprawling plant will not yield as much as other varieties of ground cherries, as it is a late-season cultivar that produces larger fruits measuring about ½’’ to ¾’’ in diameter. The sweet taste is distinctive and memorable, with tangerine and pineapple aromas, and a hint of citrusy tartness.

One of the most sought-after and best-tasting ground cherries, this endangered heirloom from Pennsylvania tastes great fresh off the vine or in a fruit salad. Aunt Molly’s ground cherries have a higher pectin content, which makes them the best candidate for delicious pies and jams. Also excellent dried into ‘’ground cherry raisins.’’

- Latin Name: Physalis pruinosa
- Days to Maturity: 70
- Life Cycle: Annual
- Start Indoors or Cold Frame: 6-8 weeks before transplanting
- Direct Sowing: After last spring frost
- Planting Depth: 0.5 cm
- Days to Germination: 7-14
- Optimal Soil Temperature During Germination: 25-30°C
- Seed Spacing: 2-3 seeds every 45-60 cm
- Thinning Seedlings: 45-60 cm
- Row Spacing: 120-150 cm
- Plant Height: 30-60 cm
- Average Seeds Needed Per 10 m Row: 25-40
- Average Yield Per 10 m Row: 15 lb.


Ground Cherries are a prolific and unique relative of tomatoes and tomatillos. Packaged in a paper-like husk, these little fruits pack a burst of flavour.

Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in a flat or small pot. Plant densely to compensate for a low germination rate. Like peppers and tomatoes, ground cherries thrive in the heat. Soil should ideally be kept at 25-30°C during germination. Moisture and light are also important early on to establish vigorous plants. Seeds should germinate in 1-2 weeks.

Harden off plants by slowly exposing to direct sun and cool temperatures. Transplant outside a couple weeks after danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. Give ground cherries plenty of space, about 60-90 cm between plants. This will give them the chance to bush and sprawl out. When transplanting, deposit seedlings as deeply as possible. They will sprout roots all along their stalk to become dense, secure and shrubby.

A location with full sun and fertile, well-drained soil is optimal. Ground cherries should be well watered. Otherwise, they will drop their flowers rather than setting fruit. Spreading mulch will enhance these properties and benefit production. Keep separate from other night shades to aid pest control.

When ripening, fruit will turn from green to gold and eventually drop off the plant. These ripened, fallen sweet treats must be hunted for and gathered from the ground, hence their common name. Ground cherries keep better than most fruits and are as versatile as any. With husks, store them in a mesh bag in a cool dark place. They should last a month or more this way. To speak of their utility, they’re delicious raw, and can be made into jams, salsas, sauces, even pies. Of course, this small fruit scatters and inevitably self seeds. Be sure to keep an eye out for volunteers next year!


- Ground cherries are originally from Brazil and were first imported to England during the 1600s. By the 1700s, they were widely cultivated mostly in South Africa where they are called Gooseberry. The fruit found its way to Australia, where it quickly spread wildly. In the early 1800s, the ground cherry was introduced to Hawaii and over the following century, its popularity grew across the continental US.

- Physalis pruinosa is from the same family as tomatoes and tomatillos and has about the same growing requirements.

- Ground cherries can produce up to 300 fruits per plant and bear non-stop until frost.

- Ground cherry seeds will remain viable for four years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down. 


You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.

Picked and bagged for 2024 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.

We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.

We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!

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Carrie D.

Thank you so much . . . .

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It was great, as advertised :)

It was great, as advertised :)