Chinese Lantern Plant

Chinese lantern may be a hardy perennial that gives colorful fall interest and may be grown within the ground or in containers. it’s a clump-forming plant with 3-inch long medium green leaves. Pieris rapae bell-shaped flowers appear in summer, but they’re insignificant. the important appeal lies within the signature lanterns, which are seed pods that start out green and mature to a bright pumpkin-orange at the top of the season in early fall. The 2-inch-wide papery pod, called a calyx, is protective covering over the flower and fruit.

Before planting a Chinese lantern during a garden bed, be keenly aware that it can grow very aggressively and spread quickly via underground rhizomes and by reseeding. take care where you plant it because it can overrun your garden beds and even sprout into turfgrass. Chinese lantern is perhaps best suited to grow in containers to stay it from spreading to other areas of your property. Eradicating Chinese lanterns isn’t a simple task.

Chinese lantern is straightforward to grow and is best planted within the spring after the danger of frost has passed. This fast-growing plant which will reach maturity and bloom in its first season.

Botanical NamePhysalis alkekengi 
Common NameChinese lantern, winter cherry, ground cherry
Plant TypeHerbaceous perennial
Mature Size1–2 feet tall and wide
Sun ExposureFull sun to part shade
Soil TypeAverage, medium moisture, well-draining
Soil pH6.6–7.3 (neutral)
Bloom TimeMidsummer
Flower ColorWhite
Hardiness Zones3–9 (USDA)
Native AreasEurope, Northern Asia
ToxicitySeed pods and berries are toxic

Chinese Lantern Care

Chinese lantern will grow well in any average soil, provided it’s well-drained and evenly moist. the most important challenge is keeping the plant in restraint because it will spread aggressively if you don’t keep an eye fixed thereon.

When the plants mature, the bulk of its care is keeping insect pests cornered . It’s also important to make a decision before time whether you would like to grow these plants directly within the ground (without a barrier or container) and take your chances with their invasive nature. Without a barrier, you’ll likely need to spend time removing unwanted plants that crop up via the underground rootage .


Chinese lantern plants grow best full sun but tolerate part sun conditions. But in warm climates, the plant is best grown partially shade.


Chinese lanterns prefer average, well-draining soil that’s consistently moist. Rich soils may cause the plant to spread faster than you would like, so there are some advantages to growing it in additional meager soil.


When young, Chinese lanterns require regular watering to stay the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Once mature, they’re somewhat tolerant of drought, though flower and pod production is better with a uniform level of soil moisture.

Temperature and Humidity

This plant can tolerate cooler temperatures, but any frost will cause it to die down for the winter. It doesn’t have any humidity requirements. The seeds will germinate when temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Feed-in the spring after new growth appears with a light-weight application of balanced fertilizer—unless the plants have proved too aggressive, during which case you’ll withhold feeding. If using granular fertilizer, confirm to stay far away from the plant’s crown and foliage. an excessive amount of fertilizer can stimulate fast growth rates, which can encourage plant disease also as uncontrolled spreading.

Toxicity of Chinese lantern

Chinese lantern plant may be a member of the nightshade (Solanaceae)family of plants, and therefore the seed pods and berries include a number of equivalent potent alkaloids that made other nightshades dangerously toxic. Both the unripe berries and leaves of Chinese lantern plants are poisonous to humans and animals, and symptoms of toxicity are similar in both,

Symptoms of Poisoning

Symptoms include severe stomach pain, diarrhea, bloat, a slowed pulse, coma, and even death. The severity of the symptoms largely depends on a person’s size and the way much of the plant was consumed. However, when mature, the berries are wont to make traditional medicines.

Chinese Lantern vs. Tomatillo

There are not any cultivars of P. alkekengi; only the species plant is usually grown in gardens. However, another closely related member of the Physalis genus sometimes grown ornamentally or as a perennial edible vegetable is that the tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa) also called Mexican husk tomato.

This plant features a similar growth habit and cultural must the Chinese lantern , but inside the papery husks, the plant produces a tomato-like fruit that’s edible and commonly utilized in salsas. because the yellow to purple fruits ripen, they split open the husks to reveal themselves. the fruits are often quite attractive within the landscape, albeit you are doing not harvest them for eating.

How to Grow Chinese lantern From Seeds

You can sow your seeds outdoors within the late spring. Or, for faster results, you’ll start the seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings outside in any case danger of frost has passed. Seeds started indoors should be planted in seedling trays six to eight weeks before the last projected frost date.

When sowing outside, poor soils can first be improved by working in organic material into the highest 6 inches of soil. Sow the seeds across the soil, barely covering them with 1/4 inch of soil. Keep the soil moist; seedlings will emerge in 14 to 21 days. When starting indoors, sow the seeds during a similar fashion in seed-starting mix, then set the tray during a warm, sunny location and keep the seeds moist until they sprout. Seedlings will got to be hardened off before transplanting into the garden.

Starting Chinese lantern plants from seeds may be a great way to grow them as annuals annually , especially in containers. you’ll simply remove and eliminate the container plant at the top of the season and begin with fresh seeds the subsequent year. This way, you don’t need to worry about the plant aggressively spreading in your garden.

Propagating Chinese lantern

Chinese lanterns can easily be propagated by cutting away a neighborhood of growth with roots attached and replanting. Spring is that the best time for this method. The volunteer seedlings that sprout up when a Chinese lantern self-seeds also can be dug up and transferred to a replacement garden location.

It is also relatively easy to gather the dried seeds from the plants and store them for planting within the spring.


Chinese lantern plant pods with their pumpkin-like color are often utilized in Halloween crafts, harvest-themed decorations, and dried flower arrangements for fall.

When the pods have changed to their orange to reddish-orange color, it’s time to reap them. First, stop a stem with pods at ground level. Strip off the leaves, then suspend the entire stem the wrong way up during a dark, cool place with good ventilation (for example, a garage) to dry the pods. Drying should be complete during a few weeks.

Common Pests/ Diseases

Chinese lantern plants are susceptible to several insect pests, including false potato beetles, cucumber beetles, and flea beetles. If insects have infested your plants, you would possibly notice the pods became riddled with holes made by hungry insects. Neem oil and/or insecticidal soap sprays should be effective against most of the offending pests.

Various bacterial and fungal diseases can attack the plants, and crowding can promote the spread of those diseases (space plants a minimum of 2 feet apart). you would possibly notice leaf discoloration or a plant that’s wilting and failing to thrive. crop diseased foliage if you see it.

Popular Chinese lantern varieties Australia

This fast-growing shrub can reach between 1.5-2m tall, although there are dwarf forms that grow but 1m high, ideal for courtyards and balconies. Several sorts of Chinese lanterns are available in Australia; the foremost common is Abutilon x hybridum, which grows into a graceful shrub with distinct pendulous lantern blooms. Other varieties include Abutilon Trifolium and Abutilon megapotamicum. All grow well within the garden or pots and are a highlight for any backyard – give them a go! Getty

Chinese lantern plant care

Chinese lanterns grow well in most parts of Australia and may tolerate light to moderate frosts once established. to guard Chinese lanterns against frost in colder areas, grow in pots, and move somewhere warm for winter.

  • Plant full sun or part shade and protect them from strong winds. Chinese lanterns flower more prolifically fully sun.
  • Rich, moist, well-drained soil. In pots, use a good-quality potting mix.
  • Give frequent waterings, not allowing the soil to completely dry out between waterings. lookout to not flood them though – they don’t like wet feet! you’ll get to increase the watering frequency in summer, but water sparingly in winter. If growing in pots, check plants often, as potting mix tends to dry out faster than garden soil.

How to fertilise Chinese lantern plants

and annually in spring and autumn with a controlled-release fertilizer.

During the flowering season, feed periodically with a liquid fertiliser designed to market flowering.Getty

How to prune Chinese lanterns

Prune young plants to encourage bushiness and flowering. For established plants, remove old twigs and dead wood and roughly prune back by one-third in late winter or early spring, just before plants placed on new growth.

If your plant starts to seem leggy, provides it a tough prune – cut branches back to around 20cm from the most trunks.Getty

Lucky strike

Abutilons propagate easily from cuttings. Simply take a firm tip cutting in late spring or summer and take away the flowers and lower leaves, leaving a minimum of 3-4 leaves at the highest. Fill a pot with propagating mix, then use your finger to form a shallow planting hole in the mix – insert cutting, backfill, and water.

Position pot in a neighborhood with filtered sunlight and therefore the cutting should settle within 4-6 weeks. you’ll also strike cuttings by sitting them during a few centimeters of water for several weeks until roots form at the bottom.

How to Grow the Chinese lantern Plant from seed

Despite their invasive nature, Chinese lantern plants can still brighten up the garden, and when their seed pods ripen they will be decorative with their red-orange hues. consistent with GardenNerdy’s article on the way to grow the Chinese lantern plant, growing them is straightforward enough since they will be grown from seeds. Just remember – these plants are invasive. a method of stopping it from becoming too invasive would be to grow them in pots. It’s also possible for you to grow the plant in trays kept indoors before planting them just after the frost. Young plants are susceptible to chillier temperatures, it’s only they’ve become fully established within the garden they’re more resilient.

The plants can grow in places of partial shade, but as long as they need enough sunlight reaching them then they’re going to grow quite healthily, during a soil which is moist and rich, but not too soggy.

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