Things You'll Need
Sharp knife or garden shears
Shallow planting container
Commercial planting mixture
Sticks of bent wire
The berries inside the lanterns are edible when they're ripe, although they're extremely tart. However, the unripe berries and leaves are poisonous.
With their bright red, papery husks that take the place of tiny, white flowers, Chinese Lanterns are interesting and easy-to-grow plants that will provide a bright spot in the landscape. Chinese lanterns are often dried and used in flower arrangements or wreaths, where they will maintain their bright, orange-red color for weeks. Chinese lanterns are easily propagated by stem cuttings in late spring.
Water the Chinese lantern the evening before you take a morning cutting from the plant. This will reduce stress on the plant and increase the chance of success.
Cut the tip of a healthy shoot with a sharp knife or garden shears. Cut the shoot just below a leaf or bud and make sure the cutting has at least two or three sets of leaves. Put the cuttings in a picnic cooler with several damp paper towels and set them in the shade until you're ready to root them.
Fill a shallow container with a mixture of half commercial potting mix and half perlite. Be sure the container has a drainage hole in the bottom. Set the planting container in a plate of water and let it wick up moisture until the soil is damp, then poke a hole in the potting mixture with a small stick.
Scrape the bottom and sides of the stem cutting with the tip of a sharp knife and pull off all the leaves except the top pair. Dip the scraped end in rooting hormone and plant the stem cutting in the potting mix with the leaves above the soil. It's a good idea to plant several cuttings in the same container, but leave enough space so the leaves don't touch.
Put the planting container in a zip-lock bag and close it. If necessary, put some sticks or a wire hoop in the container to prevent the plastic from touching the potting mix and the leaves.
Put the Chinese lantern cuttings in a warm room with a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees F and set them in indirect sunlight. Don't put them directly in sunlight because the stored heat in the plastic bag could burn them.
Open the plastic bag and mist the soil with a spray bottle when it feels dry to the touch. Check the Chinese lantern cuttings in about a week to see if they've rooted. Tug gently on one of the cuttings. If you feel resistance, the cutting has taken root.
Give the cuttings a few more days so the roots can grow a bit more, then plant each cutting in its own individual 4-inch pot. Continue to keep the soil moist.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.