Chinese lanterns are grown primarily for their lantern-shaped flowers, which are dried and added to arrangements and craft projects. Chinese lanterns are related to both potatoes and tomatillos. The leaves and the unripe berries are poisonous, just like many members of the nightshade family.
Pick a site for Chinese lantern that is in full sun with well-drained soil that is rich and fertile. Do not plant in areas where water stands after a rainstorm.
Prepare the planting site by adding a 1-inch layer of compost to the surface of the soil. Turn the soil over with a shovel to incorporate the compost. Rake the planting bed smooth.
Sow seeds of Chinese lantern directly into the garden where it is to grow. Space seeds about 4 to 6 inches apart. Mist the planting bed with a hose-end mister. Check it daily and mist as needed to keep the seedbed moist until the seeds germinate in seven to 14 days.
Thin the seedlings to stand 12 to 24 inches apart when they are 3 inches high. Keep the seedlings watered so the soil is moist but not soggy. After the seedlings are established, provide them with the equivalent of an inch of rainfall per week.
Mulch the planting bed with an organic mulch such as buckwheat hulls or shredded leaves. Put down a 3- to 6-inch layer.
Fertilize Chinese lantern with an all-purpose granulated fertilizer in early spring. Pull back the mulch and spread fertilizer in an 8-inch circle around the plant, following the manufacturer's recommended rate of application. Replace mulch.
Cut off faded flower stems and leaves after they are killed by frost in autumn.
Cover with a 12- to 16-inch layer of protective winter mulch of hay or fallen autumn leaves. Remove mulch in early spring.
Divide Chinese lanterns every four to five years. Dig up the plants with a garden shovel. Cut the rhizomes into several pieces, making sure each piece of root has an eye or growing tip. Replant the divided rhizomes.