Sandersonia Planting Guide

This unusual plant is known by many names depending where you garden: Christmas Bells (blooms for this holiday in its native South Africa), lantern vine, Chinese lantern lily, golden lily of the valley and more. A tender beauty, sandersonia has recent been discovered by avant-garde florists and is ocassionally seen in cutting edge arrangements. We like sandersonia in the garden where it's bright blooms and light weight vines can decorate slender bamboo trellises and twiggy branches in large patio pots. The vines grow to about 30" tall. 

Planting Information

Choosing a Site

Sandersonia doeswell in full sun to mostly sun sites. These plants are happiest in parts of the country where temperatures are mild and don't get to hot or too cold, such as San Francisco, San Diego and the Pacific Northwest. 

In U.S. regions where summer temperatures are higher, sandersonia tend to need a bit of pampering with more moisture and some dappled shade in the hottest part of the afternoon. With their vining habit, these plants do best with a light structure to climb on. Sandersonia also grows well in greenhouses.

Soil Prep

Sandersonia prefers rich soil that drains well. For potted plants, most commercial mixes designed for containers work well. Add a slow release fertilizer to provide nutrients throughout the growing season if one isn't incorporated into the soil mix.

When to Plant Sandersonias

Plant outdoors in spring when frost danger has past and soil has warmed. These plants originate in South Africa and cannot withstand frosts. They tend to sulk in cool soil so wait until soil has warmed or start indoors.

How to Plant

Dig holes 2-3" deep, gently place the dual-pronged bulbs about 6" apart and cover with soil. Pat down lightly to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil. Keep soil very slightly moist - too much water encourages rot. Top growth typically appears in 2-4 weeks. 

During the Season

Sandersonia bloom in early summer and the plants need little care during the growing season. Provide about 1" of water per week, from rain or irrigation.

At the Season’s End

For gardeners in zones 9-10, sandersonia vines overwinter outdoors and grow as perennials. In colder areas, treat as annuals or overwinter in a heated greenhouse.

Insider Tips

  1. These fanciful blooms have an outstanding vase life of 2-3 weeks.
  2. For fans of fun and unusual flowering vines, this plant partners well with gloriasa lilies; they have similar cultural needs.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full sun to mostly sun

Soil: Farily rich

Depth: Plant 2-3" deep, 6" apart

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Short vine; can climb 2-3ft.

Tip: Site to enjoy the fanciful flowers

GUIDE: Sandersonia Planting Guide

They Start Out looking Like This: