Growing Chinese Lanterns: A Bright Addition To Your Garden!

Chinese Lantern plants are a unique addition to any garden or indoor display. These plants, also known as Physalis alkekengi, are native to southern Europe, southern Asia, and Japan, and are known for their bright orange fruit that resembles tomatillos. However, it’s important to note that these plants are toxic to pets and other animals that may eat the leaves, so care should be taken when growing them.

In this article, we will explore how to grow and care for Chinese Lantern plants, including different varieties, propagation methods, and ideal growing conditions. We will discuss the characteristics of the plant and the different factors that can affect its growth, such as soil type, sunlight, and watering.

Additionally, we will also provide some tips on how to use these plants in your garden or home decor, as well as precautions to take to ensure the safety of your pets and other animals. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, Chinese Lantern plants are sure to add a bright and unique touch to your collection.

Plant Characteristics

Physalis alkekengi, also known as the Chinese Lantern Plant, is a species native to southern Europe, southern Asia, and Japan. This plant produces light green fruit in August that turn into orange in September, resembling red-orange tomatillos. The Chinese Lantern Plant has different varieties, including Tomatillo, Horse Nettle, Cape Gooseberry, and Bittersweet Nightshade.

It can be propagated through stem cuttings and grown from seeds, requiring light to germinate. Ideal growing conditions for the Chinese Lantern Plant include well-drained soil and full sunlight for mature plants. Young plants need regular watering and feeding. This plant can grow in cold temperatures by avoiding frost.

It needs bright light and an average temperature of 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The Chinese Lantern Plant can be grown outdoors in pots or indoors in hanging baskets, terrariums, or decorative displays. To avoid over-acclimation to one area, it is good practice for indoor growth to move the plant around from time-to-time.

Growing and Care Tips

To successfully cultivate Chinese Lantern Plants, it is essential to provide them with the appropriate growing conditions. For young plants, regular watering and fertilization are necessary, and they need well-drained soil. Chinese Lantern Plants require full sunlight to mature and can tolerate cold temperatures as long as they avoid frost. When grown indoors, it is best to move the plant around from time to time to prevent over-acclimation to one area.

When it comes to watering, it is important to maintain proper frequency and avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot. Watering frequency can vary depending on the climate and soil conditions, but generally, it is best to water Chinese Lantern Plants once or twice a week. The soil should be moist, but not soaking wet, and it is important to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. In terms of soil requirements, Chinese Lantern Plants need well-draining soil that allows water to flow through easily. Adding perlite or sand to the soil can help improve drainage, and it is essential to avoid soil that is heavy and compacted, as this can lead to waterlogging.

Soil Type Preferred pH Range
Loamy 6.0-7.5
Sandy 6.0-7.5
Clay 5.5-7.0
Rocky 6.0-7.5

In addition to proper watering and soil requirements, Chinese Lantern Plants can benefit from regular fertilization. Liquid fish emulsion can be added to the soil every two to three weeks to supplement nutrient content. With the right care and attention, Chinese Lantern Plants can be a bright and beautiful addition to any garden or indoor display.

Uses and Precautions

The uses and precautions associated with cultivating the Chinese Lantern Plant should be carefully considered before incorporating it into any outdoor or indoor display.

While the plant is known for its decorative and aromatic qualities, it is important to note that it can be toxic to pets and plants that may eat the leaves.

Additionally, the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals in its sap, which can cause irritation and discomfort if it comes into contact with skin or mucous membranes.

Despite the potential toxicity concerns, the Chinese Lantern Plant does offer some health benefits.

The plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, fever, and respiratory issues.

However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of these treatments has not been scientifically proven.

Overall, the Chinese Lantern Plant can be a beautiful addition to any garden or indoor display, but it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of pets and humans alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can Chinese Lantern plants live?

Chinese lantern plants can live up to 10 years when provided with proper garden maintenance and seasonal care. However, individual plant lifespans may vary based on environmental factors and growing conditions.

Can Chinese Lantern plants be grown in containers indoors for their entire lifespan?

Chinese Lantern plants can be grown in containers indoors for their entire lifespan through the practice of container gardening. This method allows for proper drainage and sunlight, and can be supplemented with liquid fish emulsion for optimal nutrient content.

How do you know when to harvest Chinese Lantern fruit?

Harvest Chinese Lanterns when the husks turn orange and dry, usually in September. Cut the stems and remove the husks, leaving the fruit to dry for 2-3 weeks. Preserve by placing them in a dry, cool place.

Are there any natural predators or diseases that affect Chinese Lantern plants?

Chinese lantern plants can be impacted by common predators such as aphids and spider mites. Prevention measures include regular pruning and proper soil moisture. Climate can also affect diseases such as powdery mildew. Alternative uses for these plants include decorative arrangements and medicinal purposes.

Can Chinese Lantern plants be propagated through division?

Propagation methods for Chinese Lantern plants include stem cuttings, but not division. Plant care involves providing well-drained soil, full sunlight, and regular watering and feeding for young plants. Mature plants can withstand cold temperatures with protection from frost.


In conclusion, Chinese Lantern plants are a unique and visually stunning addition to any garden or indoor display. These plants are native to southern Europe, southern Asia, and Japan and produce light green fruit that turns bright orange in September. While they may be toxic to pets and plants that may eat the leaves, they can be grown and cared for with ease.

When growing Chinese Lantern plants, it’s important to consider their ideal growing conditions, including full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Propagation can be done through seeds or division, and regular pruning can help maintain their shape and promote flowering.

Chinese Lantern plants can also be used for decorative purposes such as in floral arrangements or as a natural lantern. Overall, with proper care and attention, Chinese Lantern plants can add a bright and beautiful touch to any space.