The Q&A Archives: Jack-O-Lantern Plants

Question: My mother has this Jack-0-Lanten plant along side of her house. It has been there for about 40 years. It spreads and spreads and takes everything over every year. We have tried for the last 5 or 6 years to kill them off, but it's just awful and we can't seem to get rid of them. The whole side of the house is one massive root system. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Your plant is Physalis, also called Chinese lantern or Jack-O-Lantern. It is a woody plant with far reaching roots. Each lantern will contain a seed and those seeds, if they fall to the ground, can develop into new plants. So the first approach is to cut it back to ground level and never allow it to produce lanterns. After cutting each stem, paint it will a vegetation killer such as Round Up. Keep new sprouts cut down and painted. Eventually you'll rid your property of Physalis. Good luck with your project!

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