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weed with lantern shaped seed pod

When young, Chinese lanterns require regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Once mature, they are somewhat tolerant of drought, though flower and pod production are better with a consistent level of soil moisture.

You can sow your seeds outdoors in the late spring. Or, for faster results, you can start the seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings outside after all danger of frost has passed. Seeds started indoors should be planted in seedling trays six to eight weeks before the last projected frost date.

Temperature and Humidity

This plant has a similar growth habit and cultural needs to the Chinese lantern, but inside the papery husks, the plant produces a tomato-like fruit that is edible and commonly used in salsas. As the yellow to purple fruits ripen, they split open the husks to reveal themselves. the fruits can be quite attractive in the landscape, even if you do not harvest them for eating.

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Chinese lantern will grow well in any average soil, provided it is well-drained and evenly moist. The biggest challenge is keeping the plant in check as it will spread aggressively if you don’t keep an eye on it.

Unlike some weeds, ground cherry is not all that bad to look at. There are some species in the genus that are grown for ornamentals and to harvest the ripe berries. Wild animals also eat them. The photo below is from the Missouri State weed page . They have an extensive library of weed photos there.

As soon as the plants get to full size, they are quick to flower. The flowers are bell shaped, usually yellow with some dark spots in the center.

The variety of ground cherry that grows in my yard has shiny, smooth edge, eliptical shaped, deep green leaves. According to some resources, some plants have fuzzier leaves with some being more pointed and some more rounded.

The roots grow deep networks
The stem breaks easily at the root
The leaves and unripe berries are toxic

The little lanterns might be cute if it weren’t for other characteristics of this weed:

Until eradication is complete, we wouldn’t plant anything else near the Chinese lanterns. You might even want to consider digging up and potting (temporarily) any existing plants there that are in too close a contact with the Chinese lanterns. This will accomplish two things:

Even if you do apply an herbicide as part of your eradication approach, you can still supplement it with other control methods. For example, let’s say that, after spraying, the vegetation dies back. So far, so good. But you have to assume that at least part of the root system will live on to fight another day. At this point, you could begin trying to dig it out. Make sure you try to get every last scrap of root out of there, though, because, otherwise, they’ll regenerate. To accomplish this, it helps to sift the dirt, so that you can go over it with a fine tooth comb.

Don't Plant Anything Near Chinese Lanterns Until Eradication Is Complete

To further isolate the Chinese lanterns and keep them from spreading any further, corral them with some kind of barrier. To use an extreme example, we discuss building a bamboo barrier in an article about containing bamboo. Different plant, similar problem.

Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) are invasive perennial plants grown for their colorful and delicate orange pods, which, true to the common name, remind one of those paper lanterns sometimes used to decorate with an Oriental theme. Here’s the problem with growing these plants: using rhizomes, they can easily spread out of control in your landscaping, causing you more headaches in landscape maintenance than their beauty and uniqueness warrants.

In the case of Chinese lanterns (as with other invasives that spread via rhizomes), eradication efforts must largely focus on the root system. Also expect to be battling this aggressive spreader for an extended period of time (but you probably already surmised that!), as you would, for example, the notorious spreader, Japanese knotweed. Here’s what we recommend doing: