28 September 2012

Dried Chinese Lanterns for All

Welcome Physalis alkekengi {aka Chinese Lantern}. My latest obsession.
A few weeks ago I Facebooked about my search for some dried Chinese Lantern pods.  And a few of my awesome readers led me to Trader Joe's. Unfortunately, they were out.

Sad & disappointed, I took a chance and stopped by the nearest nursery. As Isearched through the scant  selection of dried/silk offerings to no avail, I was ready to give up and head towards the door when I was stopped by a rolling cart full of these live plants. I may have made a squeal of excitement.

I must admit, this is one of the ugliest plant I have ever laid eyes upon. Yet out of desperation, I was about to pay a ridiculously large amount of money for it! I couldn't help myself. I needed the cluster of pods dripping from it's branches.

Someone really should have tried to reason with me, but there was no stopping me & my quest for Chinese Lanterns. I was beyond reason.

Dare I tell you what I paid? I think not lest you think I've gone completely wacko. All I knew is that I wanted those big fat orange puffy pods for my very own and this was my only opportunity. And to justify it all, I rationed that I could continue to have them for years & years to come {although the Pike staff swore these are annual plants, they are actually hardy in zones 2-9}. 

Look ;)
Aren't those fat orange pods to die for?  Even better:
Oh, I'm gonna grow this.

I did a bit of research & learned that it is a prolific spreader {like mint} that can take over your garden, so it's best to keep it contained.  Besides, did I mention that it's ugly?  It is a weedy, sickly looking little guy you don't want cavorting around with all the other lovelies in your bed.  Other than his beautiful pods, he's u.g.l.y.

So here's my little guy as of this evening - nicely contained.

A little short & scrawny but I'm not concerned.  He's a rapid & prolific grower - obtaining a height of up to 25-35".  He'll fill that pot by first frost, for sure.

I'll keep you all posted on his status 'cause I know you want to know.  And if you decide you want a few sprigs for your very own next year, call me.  I have a feeling I'll have enough for all.


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