Chinese Lantern (Organic)
Physalis alkekengi var. franchetii. Perennial in zones 4-11.
A decorative relative of tomatillos and ground cherries, Chinese Lantern has a dark orange papery wrapper that surrounds inconsequential fruit. A festive addition to autumn-themed arrangements and also great for everlasting bouquets since the color remains vibrant after drying. Plants grow to 2’ tall, with cutting stems to 12” long. Self-sows and slowly spreads via rhizomes – container culture is recommended. Used medicinally as a poultice, but otherwise toxic. Aka, Japanese Lantern, Winter Lantern, Winter Cherry.
Sow indoors 6 weeks before last frost for transplant once danger of frost has passed. Germinates in 15-21 days at soil temperature of 75˚F. Transplant to 12″ spacing. May not bloom in the first year. Self-seeds if left unharvested and spreads via rhizomes; find a permanent location in the garden or grow in containers. May become invasive.
Collect seeds from seed heads that are fully dry. Thresh by hand or by dancing, winnow to clean. Finish air-drying if necessary before sealing in airtight container. Some cross-pollination may occur. Isolate from other varieties of same species by ¼ mile.