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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Physalis Halloween Series: New compact varieties

Posted by Graham Rice on 29 Jan 2012 at 12:26 PM

Chinese lantern Halloween King is compact and self supportingThe Bladder Cherry or Chinese Lantern, Physalis alkekengi, is a much loved garden plant whose vivid papery bells last in the garden well into the winter and which are much prized for cutting and for drying for indoor arrangements. There’s just two problems: the plants are often uncomfortably vigorous and they almost always fall over. Now, two new introductions not only feature unusually large bells but remain compact and at only about 16in/40cm in height they’re self-supporting.

Halloween King (‘Jel02’) (above, click to enlarge) has papery bells shaped like an upside down pear and which may reach as much as 23/4in/7cm across. The slightly smaller, more rounded bells of Halloween Queen (‘Jel01’) reach about 21/2in/6cm and tend to be more pumpkin shaped. The bells begin to colour in August and retain their colour into the winter.

Inside each orange bell is an edible orange berry which is the only part of the whole plant which is not poisonous. Although the flavour of the berry is a little bitter, it contains twice the amount of Vitamin C of lemons.

These two new varieties were developed Georg Ubbelhart, General Manager of Jelitto Seeds although these are propagated vegetatively and not from seeds.

Physalis alkekengi Halloween King (‘Jel02’) is available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.

Physalis alkekengi Halloween Queen (‘Jel01’)  is available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.

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