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Cultivation of capers

Cultivation of capers

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Question: caper cultivation

I would like information, if possible, concerning the cultivation of capers, everything concerning this plant ...
Waiting for your reply I extend my best regards.

Answer: caper cultivation

Dear Alfonso,
We thank you for contacting us about the question about the cultivation of Caper through the "" expert's column.
The Caper (Capparis spinosa L) is a plant that belongs to the Capparidaceae Family, and looks like a small climbing shrub that grows near walls or cliffs.
It has fleshy oval leaves of dark green color, fleshy and oval in shape.
The flowers it produces, from May to September, are very fragrant and showy in white and pink, with violet reflections.
They are highly sought after for food consumption where the floral button is used after a period spent in brine.
It does not have great soil requirements since the plants grow even in arid areas and on dry stone walls, but to obtain a good result periodic fertilizations with complete fertilizers are advisable.
The propagation of this plant can take place by sowing or cutting. The cuttings are performed in summer by taking a piece of woody branch, 7-10 cm long, and positioned in a box filled with peat and sand. To encourage rooting we recommend the use of root powder. When the cuttings have formed the roots, they are harvested and potted one by one in jars with a diameter of about 10 cm ... Sowing is performed in spring by placing the seed in boxes, filled with peat and sand, which will be placed outdoors in the summer and sheltered in autumn and winter. In the following spring the new plants can be transplanted into individual pots or directly into the ground.

The caper

The caper (Capparis spinosa) is a shrub widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin and has been known since ancient times for the beauty of its flowers and for its various food uses. The buds are the most used part: they are collected and stored under vinegar or salted and are an indispensable element in many recipes, thanks to their pungent taste.

Characteristics of the caper

The caper is a woody shrub with a bushy appearance, but it can also grow as a ground cover or decombente. Depending on the species and the environment it can grow up to 80 cm in height and occupy even 1.5 meters in width. A large number of stems depart from the short trunk, covered with alternate leaves, round and leathery. They are semi-persistent: the plant is therefore evergreen in almost all of the Center-South. In the thorny species the leaves hide long and sharp spines.
From the aesthetic point of view the most interesting part is the flowers, very large: the petals are of a beautiful pinkish white that contrasts with the purple stamens. In favorable climates they are produced with great continuity and are able to give vivacity for a long period to slopes and stone walls. They are then transformed into first green, then reddish capsules containing a large number of small seeds.

Cultivation of the caper

Caper cultivation can be carried out throughout Italy, with the exception of mountain areas. He usually manages to get through the winter well, as long as he enjoys a warm, sunny and sheltered from cold winds. Alternatively cultivation is also possible in large pots.
Family, genus, species: Capparidaceae, Capparis spinosa
Plant type: Creeping or decombent shrub
Foliage: are semi
Flowers: White and pink, purple stamens
Dimensions: H up to 80 cm, L up to 150 cm
Growth: slow
Maintenance: Low
Rusticitа: Up to -5 ° C, but fears humidity and stagnation
Exposure: Sun
Irrigation: Only first year
Soil moisture: Dry
Ground: Rocky and poor
Propagation: Cutting, sowing
Use: Decombente, ground cover, vase

Exposure and temperatures

The caper loves the sun and the heat. The ideal is to make it grow on the coasts, spreading over rocky terrain or as a decombent on walls exposed to the south. It is not rare, however, to obtain good results in the hinterland, even in the north, by carefully choosing the position, with the favor of a mild microclimate .
We try to avoid temperatures below -5 ° C and protect the root, stems and leaves with mulches and insulating fabrics.

Land and transplant

The caper wants a loose and well-drained soil: if ours is too compact we can mix it with river sand and small pebbles. The ideal is, however, to make it grow as in its natural environment: letting the roots dig into the ravines between the rocks. It is for example beautiful when it develops as a decombente in dry stone walls.
If we choose to keep it in a container, mix the common garden soil with sand and lapillus. Let's make sure there is perfect drainage.
We pay attention when transplanting: the roots and the stem are very fragile. We absolutely avoid breaking the earthen bread.
System: Autumn (South), May (North)
Flowering: June to November
Buds Collection: June November
Fruit harvest: July to November
Production pruning: December
topping: April May
Talea: Autumn, on woody branches
sowing: January, in heated seedbed (30 ° C)

Crop care

The growth of the caper is very slow, but a well-groomed plant is capable of living for almost a century. The more phase
important is the initial engraftment. Attention must be paid to sudden drops in temperature and, throughout the season, avoid water stagnation.


The caper tolerates drought very well and may be irreparably damaged by water stagnation. The very damage caused by humidity, especially in autumn and winter, makes it difficult to grow in the northern regions. It is generally advised to irrigate only during the first year of planting, but let the substrate dry completely before proceeding again. From the second year the plant will be completely autonomous.
In pot you need to be even more careful choosing carefully the substrate and watering only when it is dry in depth.


The caper grows naturally in very poor soils. The fertilizations are therefore completely accessory. If desired we can distribute, in spring, a very small amount of granular slow release where the potassium is prevalent.


The first year is important to induce a good branching: it is necessary to intervene often cimando the apices.
To obtain an abundant production (or to favor a rich flowering) it will be necessary, later, to intervene at the beginning of winter, cutting all the branches of the year at about 1 cm from the base. In this way we will stimulate the production of new branches, the most productive. In late spring it is always a good idea to proceed several times with the topping.

Cultivation of capers: Collection and conservation

The collection of capers is scalar: it starts from June to extend until late October. It is essential to dedicate oneself weekly because the buds must be harvested when they are still as small, firm and tightly closed as possible.
The processing must also be done quickly: it is the only way to preserve all their aroma. Traditionally they are flavored with bay leaves and pickled or salted. In the latter case it is important to carefully eliminate all the water that will have produced.
In the same way the fruits of the caper can be preserved, bigger and with a more intense taste.
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