The Alchechengues ( Physalis alkekengi ) is a plant of the nightshade family, although it is a close relative of tomato and potato, it produces a small fruit widely used in confectionery. It is a plant that, despite its exotic origins, can also be grown safely in Italy and it is an original idea to plant it in your garden.
It is a small plant, which has both upright and creeping varieties and an annual and multiannual cycle. The flowers of the alchemist are yellowish and small, similar to those of pepper, while the fruit is born inside a very decorative and characteristic membrane, the alchemist is for this reason also called “Chinese lantern”.
This plant forms rhizomes, so if you grow it as a perennial plant, you can reproduce it in the spring by dividing the clumps.
The climate, soil and sowing of alquiches
Weather. Alchemists are a plant very sensitive to bad weather, you have to be careful with frost. For this reason, in Italy it is best to grow them as annuals, unless you have a garden in areas with a particularly temperate climate and mild winter, or you use tricks and protected crops in greenhouses or tunnels. As for exposure to the sun, it prefers semi-shaded places, but if it is in the north, it is better to place it in sunny beds to ensure higher temperatures.
Perfect ground. These plants do not require much, they choose calcareous and well-drained soils if possible, they work the soil in such a way as to favor the runoff of rainwater.
Sow. In nurseries, alchemists should be sown at the end of winter, at the beginning of March, they are quite simple to reproduce from seed, much like all nightshades. Transplanting will be done when the seedlings reach 10 cm in height and the ideal distance is 50 cm between the rows and another 50 cm between the plants along the rows of planting.