How to Grow Sandersonia Plants

Guide to Growing Christmas Bells, Chinese Lantern Lily, and Golden Lily of the Valley

Sandersonia is a genus of climbing plants that reach about 60 cm (24 inches) in height.

Although Sandersonia plants 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.

Sandersonia Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Christmas Bells, Golden Lily of the Valley, Chinese Lantern Lily
Family: Colchicaceae.
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 (Sandersonia)

It is best to sow the seeds of Sandersonia plant species such as Christmas bells and Chinese Lantern Lily at a depth of about 3 mm (1/8th inch). Do so 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 (75°F). 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 (10 to 12 inches).

It should take about three years until Sandersonia grown from seed will first flower.

Caring for Chinese Lantern Lilies and other Sandersonia Plants in the Garden

It is fairly easy to look after Christmas Bells, Chinese Lantern lilies, and other Sandersonia plant 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.

Common Questions

How many members does the Sandersonia genus have?

The Sandersonia genus contains a single species, Sandersonia aurantiaca, known as the Christmas Bells or Lantern Lily.

Do members of Sandersonia make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Sandersonia aurantiaca makes an excellent garden plant due to its unique, lantern-shaped, golden yellow flowers. It's also popular as a cut flower.

Which Sandersonia species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

As a monotypic genus, the only species available is Sandersonia aurantiaca, commonly grown for its unique, lantern-like blooms.

Are members of the Sandersonia plant genus fragrant?

Sandersonia aurantiaca flowers are not particularly known for their fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Sandersonia?

Sandersonia aurantiaca thrives in a sunny or partially shaded location with well-drained soil. It's important to keep the soil moist, especially during the growing season.

Is Sandersonia invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

At this time, Sandersonia is not considered invasive in the USA. Always consult local regulations for accurate information.

How do I remove Sandersonia plants from my garden?

To remove Sandersonia, carefully dig up the plant, ensuring you get all the tubers to prevent regrowth.


The Sandersonia genus consists of a perennial plant native to South Africa. It's prized for its unique, lantern-shaped yellow flowers that appear in summer.

Plant Sandersonia tubers in spring in a sunny or partially shaded location with well-drained soil. They require regular watering during their growing period but less so once the foliage has died back. As they are not frost-tolerant, in colder climates the tubers should be lifted and stored over winter.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Sandersonia plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Gloriosa lily and Convallaria plants.