Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Remove a Chinese Lantern Plant

By Mara Grey ; Updated September 21, 2017

There's no denying that Chinese Lantern fruits, with their orange, papery covering, are a beautiful addition to a late summer or fall garden. But when the invasive roots start taking over the whole garden bed, you may decide you'd like it to leave. Easier said than done, since any small portion of root left in the ground with sprout into a new plant again. Here's the best technique for complete removal.

Cut your mass of runners into foot square chunks with your shovel. Then lift the chunks out using the garden fork, shaking off the dirt before discarding the runners. Sift through the soil with your fingers, getting as many pieces out as you can.

Repeat the process of lifting the soil with your fork two weeks later, or within a week of the appearance of new sprouts. The shoots are produced by tiny bits of root left in the soil that will reroot and grow into new plants. If, however, you pull them out as soon as you see them, they won't get a chance to reach out into the soil. You'll be able to remove almost all of them with this second digging.

Dig and sift again in another few weeks, if you see more sprouts.

Be sure to remove any seedlings that sprout in the bare soil before they have a chance to grow a strong root system. A few months of weekly inspections will save hours of labor later.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Garden fork


  • Find a helper. With one person to cut the matted roots with a shovel, and the other to kneel and lift out the roots, the work goes more quickly.


  • Whatever you do, don't plant anything in your infested bed until it's been Chinese Lantern free for at least three months. If the runners bore through the root balls of new shrubs, you'll be forced to throw the shrubs out or spend extra time picking out the runners.

About the Author


Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.