The Chinese Lantern is an herbaceous perennial that has colorful, orange fruits. It grows in an upright clump to 24” tall and as wide. Stems are clad with ovate-rhombic medium green leaves (to 3” long) with entire to undulate margins. Small, bell-shaped, axillary, white flowers in summer are insignificant. The showy part of this plant is the papery, globose, orange-red calyx (to 2” long), resembling the shape of a Chinese lantern, that forms around each ripening fruit in late summer. The bright calyces provide excellent and somewhat unique fall color. Fruit is technically edible but tasteless and rarely eaten. Fruiting stems are used in both fresh arrangements and dried arrangements. For dried arrangements, cut stems as soon as the calyces turn from green to orange-red, remove the leaves and then hang the stems upright in a dry location. Easily grown in average, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants may be grown as annuals by starting seed indoors about 6-8 weeks prior to last spring frost date. Hardy in zones 3-9. Hardy in zones 3-9.
Growing Instructions for the Chinese Lantern
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Put the seeds in a ziplock bag. 3. Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 4 weeks. 2. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet. 3. Put the seeds on the soil. 4. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. 5. Water the seeds. 6. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. The seeds take 14-30 days to germinate. 7. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.