Chinese Lanterns

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Chinese Lanterns

I’m really pleased with my Chinese Lanterns. This year I installed some new planters outside the front of the cottage. We decided on rustic animal feeders as they gave the most authentic look at a ridiculously cheap price. The standard planters for sale on the internet were all coming in at over £400 each! I managed to get my 2 feeding troughs for £70 at a local agricultural supply shop. I was looking for plants that could cope with hot and dry conditions at the southern-facing front of the house and saw an opportunity to grow these autumn classics.

 

Plant profile

Latin Name: Physalis alkekengi

Common Names: Chinese Lanterns, winter cherry 

Origin: South Eastern Europe and Asia 

Family: Solanaceae 

Grows: 40-60cm tall 

 

Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) in a large planter
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) in a large planter
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedheads. The berries become more obvious as the papery seedhead breaks down.
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedheads. The berries become more obvious as the papery seedhead breaks down.
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedhead close up. The fine lace webbing on show.
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) seedhead close up. The fine lace webbing on show.

I’ve heard they can be invasive in an open garden but I’ve got them contained so that shouldn’t be a problem. However, I couldn’t resist the fruits hanging in their gorgeous lacy sacks. My propagating fingers started twitching. With the help of the fantastic Real Seeds website I’ve collected, fermented, rinsed and dried the seeds ready for sowing in spring.

How to collect and prepare the seeds

Extract the pulp from the fruits
Extract the pulp from the fruits
Extract the pulp from the fruits
You can see the seeds in the pulp 
Mix with cool clean water
Mix with cool clean water
Sieve the pulp and seed mixture
Sieve the pulp and seed mixture
Place on a flat surface to dry - separate the seeds as much as possible
Place on a flat surface to dry – separate the seeds as much as possible
Leave the plate out to dry before packaging up in some dry seed envelopes
Leave the plate out to dry before packaging up in some dry seed envelopes

I’ll do an update next spring. Only 3 of the seeds floated when being rinsed which suggests there are a good few viable ones in there.

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