Essential Care Tips for Growing Chinese Lantern Plants: Ensuring the Vibrant Growth of Your Chinese Lanterns


Chinese lantern plants, also called Physalis alkekengi, are a favorite among gardeners due to their unique and attractive appearance. These plants are grown for their vibrant lantern-like fruits, which are encased in a papery husk. Chinese lanterns can be grown in various zones, making them a versatile option for many gardeners.

One of the most important tips for growing Chinese lantern plants is to choose the right location. These plants prefer full sun, but they can tolerate some shade. It is also important to provide them with well-draining soil, as excessive moisture can cause root rot. Additionally, Chinese lanterns can be grown in containers, which means they can be moved indoors during frosty months.

Propagation of Chinese lanterns can be done through seeds or by dividing the root runners. If you choose to propagate the plants using seeds, it is best to start them indoors about a month before the last expected frost. This will give them a head start and better guarantee successful growth. On the other hand, dividing the root runners is a good option for established plants that have already passed their first frost.

Caring for Chinese lantern plants involves providing them with the right amount of water, supporting their sprawling growth, and protecting them from pests and diseases. These plants require moderate watering, and it is important to avoid overwatering, as it can cause rot. Providing support, such as stakes or a trellis, can help the plants grow upright, especially when they are heavy with fruit. Chinese lanterns are generally not bothered by pests, but occasional problems may arise, particularly with aphids or powdery mildew.

By following these tips and caring for Chinese lantern plants properly, gardeners can enjoy the unique and beautiful foliage, as well as the vibrant fruits that these plants have to offer. Whether grown in the garden or in containers, Chinese lanterns are sure to add a touch of charm to any outdoor space. For more information and FAQs about growing and caring for Chinese lanterns, you can refer to gardening articles or seek advice from experienced gardeners.

How to Grow and Care for Chinese Lantern

Chinese lantern plants, also known as Physalis alkekengi, are a beautiful addition to any garden. They are native to parts of Asia and Europe and are commonly grown for their unique orange lantern-shaped seed pods that appear in the fall. If you’re interested in growing these plants, here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Choosing the right spot: Chinese lanterns thrive in full sun, so find a sunny spot in your garden, preferably in a southern zone. The plants can tolerate a variety of soil conditions, but they prefer well-draining soil. Additionally, Chinese lanterns are known to be spreading plants, so make sure to give them enough space to grow.

2. Starting from seeds: Chinese lanterns can be grown from seeds, which can be purchased from a garden center or collected from mature plants. Start by sowing the seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Use seed trays or containers filled with moist soil, then cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate.

3. Watering and care: Chinese lantern plants like regular watering, especially during dry periods. Water them thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Be cautious not to overwater, as this can cause root rot and other problems. Once established, Chinese lanterns are relatively drought-tolerant.

4. Caring for mature plants: Chinese lanterns are vigorous growers and may require some maintenance. Prune them in the spring to remove any dead or damaged growth. Additionally, you may need to thin out the plants to control their spreading nature, as they can become invasive in some conditions.

5. Harvesting and drying: Chinese lantern plants produce their iconic seed pods in the fall. Once the lanterns turn orange, they are ready for harvest. Cut the stems with the pods attached and hang them upside down in a warm, dry location to allow them to dry naturally. The dried lanterns can be used in floral arrangements or crafts.

6. Propagating: Chinese lantern plants can be propagated through division or by collecting and planting their seeds. If dividing the plant, do so in the spring. Gently lift the plant out of the ground and separate the root sections. Replant each section in a suitable location, making sure to provide adequate water and care.

7. Winter care: Chinese lantern plants are hardy perennials and can survive cold winter temperatures. However, it’s a good idea to provide them with a layer of mulch to protect the roots from extreme cold. If you live in a colder climate, you can also dig up the plants and store them in a cool, dark place until the following spring.

By following these tips, you can easily grow and care for Chinese lantern plants in your garden. They are beautiful, unique plants that can add a touch of color and interest to any landscape.


When growing Chinese lantern plants from seeds, it is important to exercise caution. These seeds come from a plant in the same family as the tomatillo, a distant relative of the tomato. Chinese lantern plants can be invasive and spread easily, so it is important to keep them under control.

It is best to start the seeds indoors, as they require a consistent temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit for germination. Plant the seeds in potting containers, making sure to water them evenly and keep the soil moist. Once the roots have become established, you can transplant the seedlings outdoors. Be sure to choose a spot with full sun and well-drained soil.

Beware of the spreading nature of Chinese lanterns, as they can quickly take over an area. Keep them in check by placing them in containers or using a support system to keep them from spreading. Regular watering is needed to ensure their healthy growth, but avoid overwatering as this can cause root rot.

One important warning is that the fruits of the Chinese lantern plant are toxic and should not be consumed. These bright red or yellow lantern-like fruits may be tempting to children or pets, but they can cause severe stomach upset if ingested. If you have pets or small children in your house, it is best to keep the plants out of their reach.

If you choose to try propagating Chinese lantern plants from cuttings, be aware that this may not yield satisfactory results. While it is possible to root cuttings from mature plants, they often do not grow as well as plants grown from seeds.

In summary, while Chinese lantern plants can be a beautiful addition to the garden, care must be taken to keep them under control. Their spreading nature and toxic fruits make them a potential hazard. Choose the best option for your situation, and enjoy the vibrant lantern-like blooms that these plants can offer.

Chinese Lantern Care

Growing Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi), also known as bladder cherry or winter cherry, can be an easy and rewarding experience. With proper care, these plants can thrive and produce charming lantern-like fruits that add a unique touch to your garden. Here are some tips for caring for Chinese lantern plants:

Planting and Soil

Chinese lanterns can be grown in containers or directly in the ground. When planting in containers, ensure that the potting soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging. In the ground, choose a well-draining soil. These plants prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade in hotter regions.


Chinese lanterns don’t require frequent watering and can tolerate some drought. Water the plants when the top inch of soil feels dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so make sure the soil has dried out before watering again.


Chinese lanterns are not heavy feeders and can do well without much fertilizer. However, if you want to boost growth and fruit production, you can apply a balanced fertilizer once or twice during the growing season.


Pruning Chinese lantern plants is not necessary, but you can remove any dead or yellowed leaves to improve the overall appearance. Additionally, cutting back the plants in late winter or early spring can sometimes help promote new growth.

Pests and Diseases

Chinese lanterns are generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, common garden pests like aphids, mites, and slugs may occasionally feed on the plants. Keep an eye out for any signs of pest damage and take appropriate measures to control them, if needed.

Propagating Chinese Lanterns

Chinese lanterns can be propagated from seeds or by taking stem cuttings. If you prefer to grow them from seeds, collect ripe fruits and remove the seeds. Sow the seeds in well-draining soil and keep them moist until they germinate. If propagating from stem cuttings, take cuttings in spring or early summer and place them in a well-draining soil mix. Keep the soil slightly moist and provide bottom heat to encourage rooting.

Harvesting and Drying

You can harvest the lanterns when they have turned orange or red. Remove the fruits from the plant, gently remove the papery coverings, and allow them to dry in a cool, well-ventilated place. Once fully dried, the lanterns can be used in dried flower arrangements, wreaths, or crafts.

Following these care tips, you can successfully grow and enjoy the beauty of Chinese lantern plants in your garden. Happy gardening!


Chinese Lantern plants require full sun to part shade conditions for optimal growth. They thrive when exposed to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Planted outdoors, they should be positioned in a location that receives ample sunlight.

When growing Chinese Lanterns in containers, it is important to place them in areas where they can receive adequate light. This means placing them near a window or in a spot that gets direct sunlight for several hours each day.

While Chinese Lantern plants can tolerate some shade, they will produce fewer flowers and may not reach their full potential without enough sunlight. Therefore, it is best to keep them in a warm and sunny spot to ensure their vigorous growth and flowering.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.