Time away from seedlings?

Hello everyone,
I started some ground cherry seedlings for my indoor hydroponic setup but unfortunately I’m leaving tonight for 5 days. The seedlings are just starting to put out their first true leaf so it’s a bit early to get them in the hydro system. I started the seeds in a peat mix that usually stays well moistened for ~3 days. Any suggestions for keeping them watered? I was considering either keeping them partially covered with a clear lid (but am concerned for dampening off) or adding some excess water to the bottom tray that can wick up (but am concerned for drowning them). Any tips would be appreciated.



Ground cherries are sloooow when they first start out. They seem to stay little forever—then one day just take off; that’s been my experience, anyway. I don’t think they’ll do a whole lot—or drink a lot—while you’re gone. If they’re well-watered before you leave, they’ll likely be fine. If your grow room is especially dry/hot, a vented humidity dome to slow water loss by evaporation would probably be okay; I haven’t noticed ground cherries being especially prone to damping off.


In my experience it is easier to over water a seedling than to under water. Most of my inside plants I let go for a week to weeks. Only time I have had issues with watering less than a week inside is when the plants were super pot bound on which case they just soaked up the moisture almost instantly.

1 Like

Were they okay when you got back? I’d be interested in seeing how they produce in an indoors hydroponic system.

1 Like

They did great! I did exactly as you suggested with a lid that is vented and not only did they all survive, they all grew even faster than expected. I actually started hydroponic ground cherries several weeks ago and they are unbelievably productive. Although I don’t have any ripe ground cherries yet, the plants I have are absolutely loaded. The other great news is even with very low air flow in my grow tent, a very light shake every few days is enough for pollination. The only issue I’m having is some sort of leaf spotting problem. New leaves are popping up every day and every day they get more of these spots. Any ideas? Fungal?
Thanks again!

Edit: I pinched off several additional leaves, and completely cleared the plants of the spots. Revisited them 2 hours later and low and behold more spots only on the highest leaves. I’m now convinced this is simply burn from the lights being too close. I’ll move them higher/dim them and grab a PPFD reading in the future.

1 Like

Great work! I think you’re better at growing them indoors than I am outdoors! :slightly_smiling_face:

I think you’re right: almost certainly just a little light burn.

Keep us posted!

Just a quick update. If you like hydroponics, hydroponic ground cherries are a great choice. They grow aggressively and are producing extremely heavily. Dozens of fruits and flowers on every branch. The only downside ive noticed is that sometimes the flowers don’t drop after pollination and it causes the berry to grow outside of its husk. However this has only occurred on ~5 out of hundreds of berries and it does not seem to hinder fruit development. Ignore the yellowing leaves, that was due to another lighting/nutrient incident.

The other great part about ground cherries is that they require 0 outside pollination work. I don’t even shake the branches.

1 Like

Lookin’ great! Is there ground cherry pie in your future? :slightly_smiling_face:

Yeah, you always see a few of those on the outside ones, too.

Ground cherries are a great little fruit plant. I always recommend them to folks. And now another mark in their favor: they’re adaptable to indoors/hydroponic culture, too!

1 Like

Now thats a great idea, I will certainly plan on making one!

Question for you, are the berries extremely bland up until they are perfectly ripe? I am just now starting to get ground cherries that ripen up and fall off. I’ve been waiting 2-4 days before actually eating to allow them to ripen more, and while they have a tiny bit of green at the very top, they are otherwise bright orange. However the taste is ever so slightly citrus-like with almost 0 sweetness. Is this normal? Should I wait longer for them to ripen or do the first few berries just not have much sugar in them?

A ripe one should have noticeable sweetness. A dead ripe one will often have something of a pineapple note to it. But yeah, it does seem like the first few that drop are sometimes a little bit disappointing. And ones that are not perfectly ripe can be a little underwhelming sometimes. Hopefully they’ll improve. Could try letting them rest for a couple more days. If left in the husk, they will usually sweeten up a little more in storage.

If all else fails, you won’t notice the difference in a pie! :wink:

Is that a particular cultivar you’re growing?

Great, ill definitely wait and see how they progress, thanks!

Yes, the cultivar Im currently harvesting from is cossack pineapple but I also have some early plants I started a month ago of aunt mollys, mary’s niagara, new hanover as well as a wild perennial physalis virginiana species. Itll take another month or two before I really know if theres much of a difference in taste as the damage on my cossacks hit the seedlings too and they were very young, its taken quite some time to bounce back. The only noticeable differences so far is that as advertised marys niagara is an unbelievably early producer. Here is a picture of a marys niagara that had a nearly full sized fruit just one month after sowing the seeds. And keep in mind this was after a pretty rough start due to the lighting/nutrient issue I had. I ended up removing the fruit as well as other buds since I wanted it to put its energy into recovering.

1 Like

I think you’re doing great! I’m surprised you can get them to fruit like that under artificial light. Keep at it! :+1:

Flavor-wise I’ve found them all pretty similar, but, yes, Mary’s Niagara’s great for its earliness.

1 Like