CHINESE LANTERN PLANT

FAMILY: Solanaceae | GENUS: PHYSALIS alkekengi

TYPE
  • Annuals
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9

Plant Details

From Europe, Asia. Grown for the flowers' decorative, papery, 2-in. calyxes, which look like lanterns and mature to a striking orange- red in late summer and fall. Plant grows 13 ft. high and wide, with angular branches and light green, oval, 2- to 3-in.-long leaves. Small white flowers appear in leaf joints in summer; these are followed by inedible berries, each enclosed in a colorful, inflated husk. Dry, leafless stalks hung with these lanterns make choice winter arrangements.

Sow seeds in light soil in spring. Plant is clump forming, spreading widely by long, creeping, whitish underground stems; can become invasive. Increase established plantings by digging and dividing the roots. P. a. franchetii 'Zwerg' is a dwarf selection just 8 in. high; it makes a good potted plant.

A Physalis species that produces edible fruit within a papery husk is P. ixocarpa; see Tomatillo.

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