The Chinese Lantern plant is a perennial which belongs to a family of more than 80 different species including the edible Ground Cherry and Tomatillo. This plant has been a favorite of Easterners and Westerners for centuries and is indigenous from southeastern Europe to Japan.
Many gardeners now consider this plant to be an aggressive, invasive weed, but for others the vibrant orange husk which develops in early autumn to protect the inedible, cherry-like fruit, when dried, produces one of the most unusual dried ornamentals available. Cut the stems in September and tie them into small bunches. Let dry in a cool area away from direct sunlight. This plant is purely ornamental. It is not edible like its cousins the Ground Cherry or the Tomatillo. If ingested the fruit causes indigestion and stomaches.
Chinese Lantern can be grown easily from seed. They can grow in partial shade as well as full sun. Plant seed in the spring when all danger of frost has passed. Cover seed with 1/2 inch of soil. Seeds will germinate in less than 2 weeks. Thin plants to 10-12 inches. Lanterns appear in late July - early August and turn orange in early September.