Chinese Lantern Plant: How to Grow and Care

What is Chinese Lantern Plant?

The name “Chinese lantern” was commonly given because the orange pods that look like paper boxes with small candles inside look like Chinese blades. Physalis alkekengi (Chinese Lantern plant) is native to southern Europe, southern Asia, and Japan.

The season of interest occurs for the first time when the plant produces cases of light green fruit in August. These turn into a beautiful orange land in September. The fruit cases remain attractive if left on the plant for 3-4 weeks and they can be dried and retain their color and shape there for several months.

The ripe fruits of Chinese lanterns look like a red-orange version of tomatillo, but be careful, despite their close affinity with tomatillo and groundcherries, like many members of the same family, some Chinese lantern plants are poisonous.

The Chinese lantern plant is known to be toxic so it’s best to keep away from pets and plants that may eat the leaves. If consumed, it can cause vomiting as well as many other harmful effects, and even painful convulsions. The Chinese lantern plant is also known to be poisonous as a result of its calcium oxalate crystals in the sap.

The scientific name of Chinese Lantern Plant

Kingdom: Plantae

Order:   Solanales

Family:  Solanaceae

Genus:   Physalis

Species: P. alkekengi

Varieties of Chinese Lantern Plant

Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica)

The tomatillo is known as the Mexican husk tomato; it is a plant of the nightshade family that has small spherical and green or green-violet fruits of the same name. The tomatillo arrived in Mexico and was grown in the pre-Columbian era. A staple food of Mexican cuisine, they are eaten raw or cooked in various dishes, especially the green sauce.

Horse Nettle (Solanum carolinense)

The Horse Nettle is a nightshade family, its perennial roots and stems and thorny leaves. Another distinctive feature is the yellow fruit, which changes from fleshy and smooth skin to wrinkles as it matures. New plants are born from seeds and from the spread of underground roots, which generally produce many shoots in dense areas.

Cape Gooseberry (P. peruviana)

Cape gooseberry is a soft, perennial woodland plant, slightly similar to the vine that usually reaches 2 or 3 feet in height. In good condition, it can reach 6 feet but will need support. The branches are purple, capillary, and covered with fine hair. It is locally found in western South America. It has been widely in cultivation in tropical, subtropical, and other temperate areas.

Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

Sweet and sour belladonna is a vine-like plant found throughout the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe and Asia. It belongs to the same family with tomatoes and eggplants. The STEM as medicine. LEAVES and BERRIES are poisonous.

Chinese lantern plant fruits

How to Grow?

Chinese lantern plants are like other members of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. It can quickly grow from seeds, bring seeds from the near nursery. Chinese lantern seeds can be a little fuzzy to sprout.

  • Start them indoors for head starts in late winter or early spring.
  • Sow the seeds in plastic or small containers.
  • It requires light to germinate, so place them on the ground and keep the pot in a place with bright but indirect sunlight and temperatures between 70 and 75 F.
  • Water twice a week but do not let the seeds rot with overwatering.
  • Be patient with this plant, as it takes up to a month for the seedlings to emerge.

How to Care Chinese Lantern Plant?

Once it brought outside in the garden, it requires care. The plants need well-drained soil and full sunlight.


Grow them in well-drained soil. Once it matures, plants can relatively tolerate poor soils.


Chinese lanterns grow in full sun in cold climates. In a warm climate, plants can grow in partial shade.


Young plants must keep underwater, the soil should be moist, but not wet. The flower and pod production will improve with regular watering and feeding.

Temperature and humidity

This plant can grow in cold temperatures by avoiding exposure to frost. It has no humidity necessities. The seeds will grow when temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


After new growth appears, a mild fertilizer can be applied. Keep granular fertilizers away from the crown and foliage of plants to avoid burns. Use low percentages of slow-release manure, as higher rates can favor the roots. Slugs can often be a problem because they can hide under the dense foliage.

Why is my Chinese lantern plant dying?

The plant is generally propagated through stem cuttings that are slowly placed into the water until there is a calloused covering over each section of the stem. The plant will produce tendrils that can be used to support it or even used as a support for new Chinese lantern plants.

The importance of light and temperature is critical in caring for the Chinese lantern plant indoors. The plant needs bright light but needs to have an average temperature of 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Both of these factors are the main reason why the Chinese lantern plant indoors will die if either is not maintained.

Upon purchase, prepare your new plants by removing all leaves from your new purchase until it is well established in its pot. This will prevent root rot and help it grow very quickly. You will then need to provide fresh water at least once a week and ensure that photosynthesis can occur as much as possible between waterings.

Do Chinese lantern plants need full sun?

The Chinese lantern plant does not need full sun to grow. They actually do much better in dimmer areas of the home as long as they are receiving adequate light.

These plants are very forgiving and can adapt to higher or lower levels of sunlight quite easily. The main concern with having these plants in too much sun is that the leaves can burn up which will lead to leaf death and plant death.

A good practice for growing Chinese lanterns indoors is to move them around from time-to-time so that it doesn’t become overly accustomed to one area which may lead to its demise if you leave it there too long. The rate of photosynthesis will also increase when subjected to more sunlight than usual.

Can you grow Chinese lanterns in pots?

These plants can be grown outdoors in pots or indoors in hanging baskets, terrariums, or decorative displays. They will need a very rich soil mix that includes some compost and other organic materials.

If you want to grow different varieties of the Chinese lantern plant indoors, add amendments like a little peat moss to the potting soil mix.

The nutrient content of this plant can also be supplemented by giving it additional fertilizer like liquid fish emulsion once every three weeks.

Chinese lantern plant care indoors is very easy and they will multiply very quickly. In fact, this vine can reach up to 25 feet in length if not controlled. The importance of light and temperature is critical in caring for the Chinese lantern plant indoors.

Are Chinese lantern plants poisonous?

They can indeed be poisonous, but only if consumed and they are not common to find in North America. If you have pets or children in the home, it is best to keep away from their consumption.

Chinese lantern plants can be used for front doors or other outside arrangements where they can hang down and release their beautiful scent.

The Chinese lantern plant is also known to be poisonous as a result of its calcium oxalate crystals in the sap. The best prevention strategy is to keep away from any flowers that may contain these crystals as they may cause severe poisoning when eaten by pets or little children. Do not give your dogs any flowers as it could potentially harm them.

Leave a Comment