Capers are small evergreen shrubs whose fruits are widely used in cooking . They have small leaves and very beautiful and large white flowers. This plant is very easy to grow and maintain, and can be kept both in a pot and in the garden.
Would you like to know everything about her?
- 1 Characteristics of capers
- 2 How are they cared for?
- 2.1 Location
- 2.2 Soil or substrate
- 2.3 Irrigation
- 2.4 Subscription
- 2.5 Pruning
- 2.6 Rusticity
- 2.7 Pests and diseases
- 3 How to reproduce capers
- 3.1 Reproduction by seeds
- 3.2 Reproduction by semi-woody cuttings
- 4 uses
- 5 Medicinal properties
Characteristics of capers
Capers are plants that grow up to a meter and a half in height, native to southern Europe. Their scientific name is Capparis spinosa , and they belong to the Capparidaceae family. The leaves are simple and petiolate, at the base of which appear a pair of spiny “hooks” technically called stipules. They behave like perennials, that is, instead of falling in autumn, they do so throughout the year at the same time that new ones come out.
The flowers open in spring, in the axils of the leaves. They can reach 10cm in diameter , with two white petals, four greenish sepals and purple stamens. The flower buds, known as capers, are harvested for consumption; as well as the fruits, known as capers, which will finish ripening towards the end of summer or the beginning of autumn.
How are they cared for?
Capers are very appreciative plants that can grow in climates where rainfall is low. Indeed: they are very resistant to drought. But of course, in cultivation it is worth helping it a little so that it looks pretty, and so that it produces a large number of both flower buds and fruits. So how do you take care of them?
Place them in an area where they get direct sunlight , because in semi-shade they could not grow well.
Soil or substrate
Capers can grow without problem in all types of soil , even calcareous ones. On the other hand, if you are going to have it in a pot, I recommend using black peat mixed with perlite in equal parts.
Irrigation must be regular: 3-4 times a week in summer and every 6 days the rest of the year . It is important to prevent the soil or the substrate from becoming waterlogged, so if you have any doubts, check its humidity by inserting a thin wooden stick as far as you can and, if when you extract it, it comes out practically clean, it is because the plant needs water.
It is not essential, but you can fertilize it with any liquid organic fertilizer if it is in a pot, or powder if it is on the ground, such as guano or humus.
Whenever you consider it necessary, you can trim its branches and remove those that look weak or sick.
If in your area the temperature during the winter falls below -2ºC, you should protect them from the cold and frost , for example, wrapping them with plastic if they are soft, or introducing them inside the home if they are extreme.
Plagues and diseases
Capers are highly resistant to pests and disease, but can be affected by fungus if overwatered.
How to reproduce capers
These are plants that reproduce by seeds or cuttings. Let’s see how to proceed in each case:
Reproduction by seeds
To sow capers, the first thing we have to do is, obviously, acquire the seeds, in spring . The fruits ripen in late summer/early fall, but sowing is not recommended during that season, especially if the weather is cool.
Once temperatures remain above 15ºC, we can sow them as follows:
- We will introduce the seeds in a glass of water for 24 hours , so that the embryo that is inside them »awakens».
- The next day, we will fill a pot with universal substrate for plants mixed with 20% perlite, and we will water it well.
- Then, we will place a maximum of two seeds per pot .
- We cover them with a little substrate (the minimum so that they are not visible to the naked eye).
- And finally, we go back to watering .
The substrate must always be kept slightly moist, so our capers will not take more than two-three weeks to germinate.
Reproduction by semi-woody cuttings
The semi-woody cuttings of the capers should be obtained at the beginning of summer. To do this, you must:
- Cut stems of 20-30cm.
- Moisten the base with water and impregnate them with powdered rooting hormones.
- Fill a pot with black peat mixed with perlite in equal parts, and water.
- Make a hole in the center of the pot (one for each stem).
- Plant the stems.
The cuttings will sprout very soon, in the course of 1 month , keeping the substrate moist.
Capers are used above all in the kitchen, to prepare sauces, mayonnaise, salads… And they are very productive: a single plant can produce up to 3kg of flower buds that you can use to prepare delicious dishes.
The flavor of capers is intense, slightly bitter .
The medicinal properties of these plants are very, very interesting: they are diuretic , vasoconstrictive , antihemorrhoidal and tonic .