Chinese Lantern Plant Growing Guide

Alkekengi officinarum (formerly Physalis alkekengi)

Chinese Lantern Plant

Crop Rotation Group

Solanaceae (Potato and tomato family) 


Fertile, well-drained soil.


Full sun to partial afternoon shade.

Frost tolerant

Chinese lantern is a hardy perennial, tolerating winter cold to -23°C (-10°F).


In spring just as new growth emerges, topdress the area around Chinese lantern plant with a balanced organic fertiliser.


Single Plants: 30cm (11") each way (minimum)
Rows: 30cm (11") with 30cm (11") row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Start Chinese lantern plant seeds indoors in spring, and expect germination in 20 days. Or, plant root divisions taken from an existing colony. Chinese lantern plant will bloom and produce decorative pods in its first year. Young plants need water their first year, but after that Chinese lantern plant is quite drought tolerant.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Chinese lantern plant is grown for its decorative orange seed pods. The plants spread by wandering rhizomes and by seed, and can become invasive when left uncontrolled. To limit its spread, grow Chinese lantern plant in a large pot that is sunk into the garden, or grow it next to pavement or a spot that is regularly mowed. A cold-hardy cousin to tomatillo and tomato, all parts of the Chinese lantern plant are poisonous. The ripe fruits were once used medicinally.


Gather stems for use in cut arrangements in late summer, or whenever the bracts develop a bright orange colour. Cut stems near the ground, strip off the leaves, and either hang in bunches or let the stems dry in a dry vase. You also can allow the lanterns to persist on the plants into winter, until the fibres weather into lacy enclosures around the bright orange berries.


Chinese lantern plants usually outgrow any pests that find them. Watch for this plant’s tendency to spread where it may not be wanted.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Chinese Lantern Plant