Chinese Lantern plants, treasured for its stunning, dark coral, papery pods, make a beautiful addition to fall floral arrangements and fall decorations. When they’re young, Chinese Lanterns are green in color and reach their popular autumnal hue in early fall. The lantern-shaped pods, which are about two inches wide, are actually calyxes that surround the plant’s white flowers. Each pod eventually encases a berry with seeds.
Chinese Lantern plants are a member of the nightshade family (Physalis alkekengi), which include eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos or husk tomatoes and peppers, and are winter-hardy in our area. As with other members of this family, the heart-shaped leaves are poisonous – a consideration if you have small children or pets. Another thing to keep in mind is the invasive growing habit of this plant. It spreads by way of underground rhizomes, and if you don’t harvest all of the pods, the plant easily reseeds itself. One way to manage Chinese Lanterns is to grow them in pots.
To harvest the pods, carefully cut the stems and remove the leaves, keeping the pods in place. Keep the stems upright, in a dry space with good airflow. You can do this by suspending the plant upside down with a nail or string. It may take a few weeks for the pods to dry completely, based on moisture conditions. The dried pods will keep their brilliant color and shape for years. To create interesting shapes, cut the pods along the veins of the pods, which will cause them to curl as they dry.
Looking for some interesting plants to add to your landscape? Contact us at Farmside Landscape & Design, today.
Main image photo credit: PixaBay