The Q&A Archives: Growing Chinese Lanterns

Question: I know Chinese Lanterns are really a weed but we like the looks of them. We can't seem to get them to grow;
we've tried sun, shade, water, dry, but these are hard to try to grow in our area. What's the formula?

Answer: Perennial Chinese Lanterns (Physalis Alkekengi) is usually easy to grow and can become invasive, so be sure you are planting it in a spot where it will not become a problem later. The best spot would be in full sun, because this plant needs a long warm season to form the most colorful calyces. Avoid a very dry or a very wet spot.

While it can be started from seed, cutting, or division in my experience this perennial form is most easily started from root divisions, so you will probably need to purchase your plant or obtain a start from another gardener. Prepare the soil in advance by incorporating a fair amount of organic material such as compost, and then transplant being sure to firm the soil and water it in well. Finally, add a layer of mulch and be sure the plant receives adequate moisture until it becomes established.

If you are trying to grow it from seed, be aware that it prefers warm soil temperatures to germinate and seedlings should not be planted outside until the weather has settled and the soil has warmed; the seedlings also need to be conditioned or gradually acclimated to the outdoor environment prior to setting out.

Good luck with your Chinese Lantern!

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