Sandersonia aurantiaca, the Chinese Lantern Lily is a member of the Lily family. It is the sole species in it's genus, growing to 20-35 inches. It is referred to as Christmas bells since that is when it blooms in the southern hemisphere or Chinese Lantern because of the orange flowers. This has become a popular flower for the cut flower business and many are grown in New Zealand. It grows in damp grassland, on forests margins in the eastern areas of South Africa. There it is a protected species due to picking from the wild. They produce a bulb.
Sandersonia is a delicate, slightly climbing plant with pendulous lanterns in the most alluring, rich orange. It has an excellent shelf life of between 10-20 days, with the blooms continuing to mature up the stem over this period. When not in flower, interest is maintained by the exotic appearance of the veined foliage. After blooming, withhold water and fertilizer, allowing the plant to go dormant. It can be brought into flower at different times than its normal Summer flowering by allowing it to go dormant and then watering it several months before you want it to bloom. The stem length is directly related to tuber size. It needs a deep container and something to climb on.
Hardiness zone 11, (4øC/40øF) in Winter. Water regularly; do not overwater. Sandersonia aurantiaca prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Use two parts rich potting soil, one part sand and one part peat moss.
In frost-prone areas, lift tubers in Autumn and store at 13øC. Clean the tubers and dust with sulfur to prevent disease. Store in dry peat moss for about 3 months until the pink buds form. Replant the following Spring, after all risk of frost.