Wanted for: its papery orange ‘lanterns’
Proper name: Physalis alkekengi
The Chinese Lantern Plant was given its name because of the signature orange pods which encase its fruits. They are present in Autumn and resemble traditional Chinese Lanterns. It is usually found in regions covering Southern Europe, Northeast and Southeast Asia, and is a popular ornamental plant. It was traditionally used for medicinal purposes, used to treat things such as a fever and malaria.
It is a hardy, perennial plant when grown in the UK and can be grown in both borders and containers. The plant produces light green fruit cases in August which then turn a deep orange colour in September and October (perfect for Autumn!). You can harvest its pods, and even use it in Halloween crafts, autumn-themed decorations and dried flower arrangements.
A word of warning though, it can spread very easily and quickly when in your beds/borders and can become invasive, so it is recommended to keep them in containers or pots buried in the ground (to contain its roots).
It will thrive in sunlight and partial shade, with well-drained soil. Before winter, harvest the lanterns and cut down the plants to where only a few inches of the main stems remain.
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By Nadia Hallwood