Apr 2, 2010

Green Lanterns and their Distant Cousins

Vasanta (Spring) brings magic with him which seems to make the plants grow faster. I wish he did the same to my seeds too [SIGH]!
I've been talking about my mystery plants in my past two posts which has grown really well now. the pots occupied by them were intended to be populated by the most eagerly expected Columbine and Lavender, but I ended up with these.
Thanks to my instincts that I didn't decide to pull these out. Their flowers weren't so catchy at first sight

unless you look close to appreciate its beauty.
I waited not for too long to see these tiny lanterns hanging on the leaf axils.
Soon the entire branch seemed dotted by tiny lanterns.
The other two species were slow to flower but grew very fast. 
For an Urban-bred guy like me, identifying a plant was really difficult and I had to browse through pages in the Internet with my lame keywords like five petaled,
pear-shaped fruits, 
yellow flower,
and so on, to find so many flowers and plants, but as my luck would have it, I found the identity really soon.
The so-called weeds belonged to Physalis family! Three cheers to Tyra for identifying it!
This one below I think is Physalis minima.
And one among these twins seems like Physalis peruviana
and other could be Physalis pubescens or Physalis viscosa
or may be I am wrong about IDying all the three's exact species, because all the species in the Genus Physalis look almost the same but for few minute differences. May be the experienced gardeners out there should be able to help me :)
To my dismay last week three fruits dropped down from the plant.
Thinking they were ripe I ignored the first two instances, but the berries were green inside. The third drop alarmed me 'coz it's fruit was smaller than the first two!
The ants seem to love whatever their flowers are offering and thankfully I saved them from the mealybugs and aphids as I found it initially and I'll definitely be on the lookout for possible future attacks, as I don't want to lose these precious guests who seem to have settled in Plantville.
Physalis minima seems like vigorous plant than the other two as the lanterns soon turned bigger making the plant a fantastic sight. In the evenings I touched these hanging lanterns, almost expecting them to light up. I know, I know, it's the aftereffect of watching Avatar thrice! :D
One thing that I learnt from my reading about these is that the plants would grow more berries if fertilized! I was shocked to learn the fact! I did fertilize it once in the beginning before knowing this and I hope the plants don't curse me for nourishing them a bit extra!
So when do I ever harvest these lanterns? Some seem really big but the husk is still green... Would they change color? If so how long should a poor impatient gardener wait?
While these lanterns are growing well, there's their cousin sitting in two other pots nearby.
I was so excited about these soon-to-be-bulbs! (I mean bulb as in bulb bulb and not the bulb bulb like the bulbs from which plants grow :D)
One of the bush tomato seedlings as mentioned in my previous posts has given out many small bulbs but now its leaves have curled upwards.
I was scared ****less! That's my first veggie and I can't afford to lose them! I looked under the leaves for aphids or mealybugs - none.
There weren't any coloration on the back of leaves to suggest viral infection.
Is it just a physiological curl? Oh god! Let it be just that. The other two seedlings seem normal though!
But the new growth from the bigger seedling is slightly curled too. Am I to worry about this? Should I scream HELP!? What say you?


Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

The green lanterns are really pretty and interesting. Wouldn't it be cool if they did light up? :) I've never seen them before.
I hope your tomatoes are okay. I'm really not that great of a veggie gardener although I do grow tomatoes. I seem to remember seeing some curl a bit upwards. I looked in my plant disease book under tomatoes and they only mention if the leaves curl down it could be aphids or bacterial wilt.

Chandramouli S said...

Oh how awesome the sight would be! Thank you for the assurance, Catherine. That alleviates my fears. This is my first time with veggies and I'm worried about every small deformity. LOL! I know that's silly.

tina said...

I'm wondering now if that isn't what is growing in some of my pots. Hmmm. These lantern plants are very invasive here but I find them pretty. Usually we just let the lanterns dry then harvest-but you've got to pick them fast before they go to seed if you don't want more.

Not sure on why your tomato is curling. I found this link: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_causes_leaf_curl_on_tomato_plants that talks of it but I tell you can be any of the things you mentioned. I'd watch them, make sure they are in sun and getting plenty of water and TLC and see what comes of it as time goes on. Not a good answer for sure.

You have a nice day and thanks for the nice comment. Picturing myself as a female Gandolf who could make plants grow would be ever so cool when I'm sweating and huffing and working in the garden...

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...

What a lovely mystery plant, I usually can't bear to pull them either. The lanterns are so pretty.

I noticed your message about the multi apple tree, and remembered a post from Noelle (azplantlady), about a cocktail citrus tree, I thought you might enjoy it, here is the link (I hope you don't mind). http://www.azplantlady.com/2010/03/fruit-cocktail-from-tree.html

Happy Gardening!

Marion said...

I almost guessed this last week and forgot to come back! I planted some of these last year and, unfortunately, didn't get any flowers. Thanks for sharing your awesome garden. Blessings!!

Troy said...

What a fascinating plant! I have never seen anything quite like it.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen anything like that, but it looks very unique. When I see something I can't identify, I too, let it grow. Usually its just a weed, but right now I'm thinking I have some much wanted morning glories coming up. They are in the neighborhood. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Good luck with your tomato plants.

Thomas said...

I wonder if these green lanterns are the same as our ground cherries here. Hopefully, you won't lose any more fruits!

Chandramouli S said...

They're sightly invasive here too, Tina. Just be sure not to fertilize them 'coz that'd stop them from bearing fruits.
I read the same article and thought if it could be just physiological curl coz the flowers look normal. Let's wait 'n' watch... They're getting LOTS of sun and water, I pour it so that it drains out of the pot. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll keep an eye on it.

Aren't they, Rebecca! Cute little natural lanterns! Thanks for the link to azplantlady's blog. I enjoyed reading her blog.

Marion: Make sure you don't fertilize them. I did that mistake before knowing about it and one of the three plants has reduced flowering :(

They're such beauties, Troy! I heard these are available in US too. May be you should try, but as Tina said check if they're are invasive in your zone if you plan to grow them.

Thank you :). Oh, I grew Morning Glories last year and they're such beauties. They germinate, grow, and flower in no time. They'd be a beautiful sight in the morning, Rosie. I hope yours bloom soon.

Many species of this Genus are called Groundcherries. So yes, you seem to have the same. You know how long it takes for them to ripe? I know, I am an impatient gardener :D

Phillip said...

A fascinating plant - wouldn't it be cool if they did light up when you touched them?

I love the new look of your blog!

Chandramouli S said...

I really wish they did, Phillip. After watching Avatar, I feel so bad about what we're doing to our Mother Earth.

Darla said...

Cool Weed....hope your tomato plant is okay...overwatering might cause leaf curl????

Chandramouli S said...

I look at the soil before watering, but I'm not sure yet. I am happy that the other two seedling are normal. Touchwood!

☆sapphire said...


Thank you very much for visiting my little blog! What a lovely blog you have! Your green lanterns interested me a lot because we have red lanterns.
URL is as follows(sorry. the webpage is not in English but you can see images)


I read your previous post about the "wonderful fragrance wafting in the air". I wish I could smell it! Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hello Chandramouli! I would like to offer you helpful suggestions for your tomatoes - but I tried growing them from seed for the first time this year and am about to have to face up to the fact that they are never going to ripen - because I sowed them too late!
I'd imagine it is hot where you are, particularly on the balcony. Something I learnt (from Amy at 'Go Away - I'm Gardening' blog I think) that may help is to mulch tomatoes to help keep the roots cool. I hope they come through for you as they look so lovely and healthy apart from the curling!

tina said...

I just wanted to say good morning!

Chandramouli S said...

☆sapphire: I assume, those green lanterns would eventually become red like yours or at least kinda brownish. Let's see.
Thanks for dropping by :)

gippslandgardener: Welcome to Plantville!
I can try mulching but the problem with mulching here in hotter climates is that ants would find it a perfect spot to build their colony. Fireants are a HUGE problem here.
I'm growing impatient to see at least a single tomato. LOL! I know I'm not a good gardener :D

Good morning, Tina! Those Fritillarias were real treat. I'm now yearning for bulbs after seeing them all over the blogland.

Tyra i Vaxholm said...

I'm so glad I was kind of correct with the mystery plant. I grow Physalis the edible ones Phusalis pruinosa, easy to grow and so delicious!
Lovely post Chandramouli.


Country Mouse said...

At first I thought the lantern plant was going to be a kind of nightshade - I have weedy nightshades and nice ones here, and I can totally relate to the frustration of IDing them - I did post about my efforts somewhere on our blog - it is fun though, afterwards - kinda like running. Feels good when you're done! So Spring is Vasanta - I love knowing that! Thanks for your post - I enjoyed following you on your adventures - good luck with the tomatoes, can't help you on that question.

Meredith said...

Hi, Chandramouli. Your tomato plant looks stressed to me, probably moisture stress, but it could be overfertilizing if you are using a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Just make sure to water well during dry periods and yet not to overwater. I suspect you may be overwatering, which is easy to do with container plants. (I've done it!). Mulching the roots, as some have suggested in the comments, is a great idea, too.

If the underside of the curling leaves turn yellow with purple veins, that is a viral infection (which I have unfortunately had before on some plants) and there is no cure, and you must discard the plant and start over. But I do not see any signs of purple veining on the photos above, so I think it is a situation easily remedied. :)

Hope this helped a bit!

Meredith said...

Oh, and by the way, if it does turn out to be the viral infection, you did nothing wrong. The disease is transmitted via insect vectors.

A wildlife gardener said...

Physalis always brings surprises..I love how your photos accompany your story :)

Ami said...

Don't you just love the garden surprises! I love your green little lantern, very unique and pretty! I can totally relate to the way you try to research over the internet for plant ID. I did the same thing several times, sometimes I am lucky, sometimes not :)

Chandramouli S said...

Tyra: Thank you :) Can you tell me as to how long it takes for these to ripen?

Country Mouse: They do belong to nightshade family. Yes, it really is fun hunting for their ID. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you found the stay delightful.

Meredith: I'm thinking that it's the problem with watering. I've got to be more careful about it. Thank you for the suggestions. Hope the stay was delightful :)

WG: Thank a lot :)

Ami: Oh, I love 'em! I get them every Spring and Summer! I guess I was lucky in this case - very lucky so to say.