The Q&A Archives: Orange Lantern Plant

Question: We have seen a some type of flower that is orange and looks like a lantern. We have not been able to find out what it is. On the inside it has a orange ball. We would like to know if you could tell us what it is and when it would be planted and if it is an annual or perennial.

Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: If the lantern is about two inches across and very orange, I suspect you have a "Chinese Lantern" or Physalis Alkekengi, sometimes also called winter cherry. This sun-loving perennial is usually propagated by division, but you might be able to start it from seed next spring. Take care where you plant it as it can spread.

You might also have an annual form of Physalis such as the tomatillo which is used in cooking and is native to Mexico. This can be started from seed in late spring when the ground has had time to warm up; it would be grown in full sun and cared for like a tomato.

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