Guide to Growing Christmas Bells - Sandersonia

Sandersonia is a genus of climbing plants that reach about 60 cm in height.

Although Sandersonia are half hardy perennials they are mainly grown as an annual in the garden.

Sandersonia bloom in the summer and have orange lantern shaped flowers that hang from thin stalks.

The foliage is lance shaped. Some common names for Sandersonia include Christmas Bells and Chinese Lantern Lily.

Sandersonia aurantiaca

Sandersonia aurantiaca – Chinese Lantern lily by Nemo's great uncle.

Christmas Bells

Sandersonia aurantiaca - Christmas Bells by Edgeplot. Both Photographs under Creative Commons Licence.

Quick Sandersonia Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Christmas Bells, Golden Lily of the Valley, Chinese Lantern Lily
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 24 to 30 inches (60 to 75 cm).
Native: Southern Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 10. As a perennial in zones 9 and 10.
Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: Yellow, orange. Lantern shaped
Foliage: Lanceolate.
Sow Outside: 1/8 inch (3 mm). Following the last frost. Spacing 12 inches (30 cm).
Sow Inside: Soak seeds for one day. Germination time: one to three months. Temperature 75°F (24°C). Nine or ten weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Loam. Manured. Provide support. It usually takes three or four years for seed grown plants to flower. Propagate: dividing in the spring.

How to grow Christmas Bells

It is best to sow the seeds of Christmas bells at a depth of about 3mm following the last frost of winter. Christmas bells and other Sandersonia species like to grow in sunny areas that have good drainage. Ideally the soil should be a loam that is sandy and well manured.

If starting indoors then do so about 10 weeks in advance. Germination of Christmas bells takes from one to three months at 24 degrees Centigrade. It is necessary to imbibe the Sandersonia seeds by soaking in warm water for a day before sowing. Once ready transplant the young plant into the garden after the last frost with a spacing of 25 to 30 cm. It should take about three years until Sandersonia grown from seed will first flower.

Caring for Chinese lantern lilies and other Sandersonia

It is fairly easy to look after Christmas Bells, Chinese Lantern lilies and other Sandersonia species. Provide them with a stake in windy areas, and bring indoors for the winter if you live in a cold climate. If you require more plants then Sandersonia can be propagated by division in the spring.

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