How to Grow Nicandra Plants

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Apple of Peru and Shoofly Plant

Nicandra plants are usually grown as half hardy annuals in the garden. They can also be half hardy perennials or hardy annuals.

They reach about 90 cm to 1.2 m (3 to 4 feet) in height.

Plants bloom from summer to Autumn. When in bloom they carry bell shaped violet and white flowers.

The buds are also an attractive shape, with a dark purple to black color.


Apple of Peru
Nicandra / Apple of Peru photographs by Lillide; creative commons.

Nicandra plants have a very short flowering period, only bloooming for one day.

They make up for this in the garden through carrying long lasting seeds. These are contained in very attractive fruit pods that fully develop once blooming has occurred.

Some common names for Nicandra include Apple of Peru and Shoo-fly plant. Latin names include Nicandra physalodes and Nicandra yacheriana.

Commonly Grown Nicandra Species Photographs and Plant Identification

Nicandra physalodes

Nicandra physalodes
Nicandra physalodes (Apple-of-Peru / Shoo-fly Plant), photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Nicandra physalodes fruit
Apple-of-Peru fruit capsules, picture by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Nicandra Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Apple of Peru, Shoofly Plant.
Latin Names: Nicandra physalodes
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 36 to 40 inches (90 to 100 cm).
Family: Solanaceae.
Native: South America.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 8.

Flowers: Summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Violet. Bell-shaped. 2 inch (5cm) diameter.
Foliage: Ovate. Toothed. Waved.

Sow Outside: Cover seed. Before last frost or in autumn. Spacing 20 to 50 inches (50 to 125 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature 60 to 75°F (15 to 24°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors a few weeks before the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Rich soil. Monthly feed.
Family: Solanaceae.
Miscellaneous: Considered an invasive species in many areas.

How to Grow Apple of Peru and other Nicandra Plants in the Garden

The seeds of Apple of Peru can be sown outside either in late autumn or before the last frost of spring. Once sown cover the Apple of peru seeds lightly with soil.

It is best to grow Apple of Peru in a rich soil. Locate in either a partially shaded or sunny part of the garden. This should have good drainage.

When growing Nicandra plants indoors first, do so about seven weeks in advance.

The Nicandra Plant seeds should be germinated at 15 to 24 degrees Centigrade (59 to 75°F). they should take about two to three weeks to sprout.

The Nicandra seedlings can then be put outdoors, following the last frost of spring. Use a spacing of about 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 feet).

Caring for apple of Peru (Nicandra)

It is best to feed Apple of Peru and other Nicandra species when they are growing.

Common Questions

How many members does the Nicandra genus contain?

The Nicandra genus is monotypic, containing only one species. This is commonly known as Apple of Peru or Shoo-fly plant.

Do Nicandra members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Nicandra physalodes can be an interesting addition to the garden due to its unique, bell-shaped flowers and physalis-like fruit. However, it's also known to be a bit weedy.

Which Nicandra species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Since there is only one species in this genus, Nicandra physalodes (Apple of Peru) is the species grown by gardeners.

Are Nicandra plants fragrant?

No, Nicandra physalodes is not known to be a fragrant plant.

What is the perfect location to grow Nicandra?

Nicandra physalodes grows best in full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil. It's fairly adaptable and can tolerate a variety of conditions.

Is Nicandra invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Nicandra physalodes is considered invasive in some parts of the USA, including the Midwest and Northeast, where it can disrupt native ecosystems.

How do I remove Nicandra plants from my garden?

To remove Nicandra, dig up the entire plant, including roots. As it self-seeds aggressively, be sure to remove any seedlings and seeds as well.


Nicandra is a monotypic genus from the Solanaceae family, known as the Shoo-fly plant. Its solitary species, Nicandra physalodes, is an annual herb recognized for its bell-shaped flowers and inflated, lantern-like fruiting calyx.

To cultivate Nicandra, select a location with full sun and well-drained soil. Plant seeds in the spring after the risk of frost has passed. Despite its origins in the highlands of Peru, the shoo-fly plant adapts to a variety of conditions, and its unique appearance makes it a conversation-starter in any garden.

I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Nicandra plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Physalis, Iris, Zinnia, and Browallia plants.