Thursday, July 16, 2009

Balloon Flower

This is one of my favorite flowering plants. When we were at the nursery pointing out our landscaping preferences, this little beauty grabbed my attention. When it first begins to flower, a pale green balloon appears at the end of the stem. It eventually turns to purple and then bursts open into the star shape seen in the photograph below. To see the balloon and the other anomalies with one of my plants, stop by my photography blog – just click the “Picture This” tab at the top of the page.

Without further ado, I present the Balloon Flower

Common Name
  • Balloon Flower
  • Chinese Bell Flower
  • Campanulaceae
Formal NamePlatycodon grandiflorus
DescriptionThis heavy bloomer gets its name from the way each flower bud swells before its starry petals unfold. As one of the easiest perennials to grow, they bloom in profusion in mid to late summer, when many other perennials are beginning to fade.

  • Borders
  • Containers
Light Requirements
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Sun
  • Partial Shade
Soil RequirementsWell drained, slightly acidic
Water RequirementsModerate drought conditions are ok, but deep watering is preferred.
Height12” – up to 36” Generally smaller than 36”
Growing Zone3 – 8
Manicuring or PruningRemove dead branches in early spring. Balloon flowers are late bloomers, coming up long after most other perennials have begun growing. It is best to mark their position so you do not accidentally pull them out as weeds.

Pick dead flowers as they begin to fade to encourage more blooms. Be careful about it as the next bloom is coming in right behind it.
FertilizationSlow-release in the Spring
Growth CycleLate Spring through frost
Bloom TimeEarly summer through the next two months after the first blooms appear
Bloom ColorPurple (most common), White, Pink
  • Seeds – germinate 2 –3 weeks at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, then plant in the fall. Will not flower in the first year.
  • Basal cuttings from non flowering shoots, with about 1/2” root attached. Push soil back to reveal the spot where the stem meets the root. Cutting should be 2” – 4” long.
  • Dividing – dig deep to to avoid root damage – not the preferred method
Maintenance LevelLow
Special Features

Drought tolerant once established

Known IssuesGenerally pest-free & easy to grow
Planting InstructionsFrom seed: Press lightly into soil, but do not cover.

From cuttings: Immediately plant in a good potting medium.


Cynthia said...

Great information on one of my favorite flowers! They are always late to emerge in the spring so I have to remember where they are planted so I do not accidentally dig them up while sowing new plants. I had a double flowering pink one growing in a container last year but it sadly did not make it through last years crazy winter.

Nance said...

You just reminded me, I do have a baloon flower plant. I planted it last year...hope I didn't pulled it out when I was weeding.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

Maria Berg said...

I had have one but it did not survive the winter, last year, MB

Joanna said...

Yes, these flowers are very cool. I love them both before they open and when they do. I like your blog here and at "Life makes me laughe." Thanks for visiting mine.

Chris said...

Cool flower!

Maya said...

You make me so wish to have a garden again. Just having everything in pots is just not doing the trick. Thanks for your lovely site.