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Balloon Flower: How to Grow and Care For?

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Native to China, Korea, Japan, and Russia, Balloon Flowers have now become a garden craze in the United States. Bellflower and lobelia are both members of the Campanulaceae family, which comprises these flowers. Because its puffy balloon-like buds bloom into starry bell-like petals, these are also known as Chinese bellflower and Japanese bellflower.

Here we will discuss growing balloon flowers in your backyard or lawn. Also, we will be talking about the various ways these flowers can be taken care of so that they can give you a color show all through the summer months.

But before we jump into the details of growing and caring for balloon flowers, let us explore its basic information along with their different types.

Basic information

Basic information of Balloon flower
General nameBalloon flower, Chinese bellflower, Japanese bellflower
Botanic namePlatycodon grandiflorus
FamilyCampanulaceae (bellflower)
DurationPerennial
TypeHerbaceous perennial
Hardiness zonesUSDA 3- 8
Soil requirementMoist, rich, loamy, clay, and well-drained soil
Soil pH level5.5–7.5
Maximum height
1– 2 1/2 ft.
Width1–1 1/2 ft.
Blooming timeSummer months
Bloom colorWhite, blue-violet, pink
Native to China, Korea, Japan, Russia

About

Although named as balloon flowers, do not get deceived by them. We say so because these plants are hardy enough to thrive with your little interference, live a long time, and are disease resistant. 

As stated above, balloon flowers derive their name from the unopened buds that resemble little hot-air balloons before blooming. These plants will add a splash of color to your yard and an aesthetic sense to it.

Interestingly, these plants attract children, as they can pop the buds for fun by pressing the sides, causing them to burst open with a pleasing popping sound. As a result, growing balloon flowers with kids may be a lot of fun.

Balloon flower plants serve multi-purposes. People plant these as ornamental, and in some parts of the world, they use them in traditional cuisines and medicines.  

For instance, the roots of these plants are preserved in sugar, pickled, or used as a tonic vegetable in soups in Korea. In addition, its leaves are a staple in many Japanese salads.

Types of balloon flowers

Balloon flowers are a treat for the eyes, and it will be hard for anyone who is a nature lover. It holds the beauty and extravagance of colors. The five distinctively pointed petals of these flowers bloom like perfect brackets. 

Now, in this section, we’ll look at the several types of balloon flowers that can be grown for added diversity in the garden.

#1. Double blue

Double blue

Since this cultivar has double the violet-blue petals, it is called the Double blue balloon flower. Furthermore, the genus Platycodon’s distinctive balloon-shaped buds make this type easy to identify. The Double blue plant can reach a height of up to 30″ and be combined with other perennial flowers in the flower bed.

#2. Fuji blue

Fuji Blue is a hardy Platycodon species resistant to pests and illnesses. This variety produces purple blooms that are slightly translucent, giving the petals a more tactile look. These plants are most typically found in gardens and flower beds because of their visual appeal.

#3. Hakone double blue

Hakone double blue is a hybrid between two different types of balloon flowers, giving it a more complex blossom with ten petals rather than five. With little maintenance, the flowers can be grown alone or in groups on top of stalks all summer long.

#4. Hakone double white

Hakone double white

The Hakone Double White plants, unlike most balloon flower varieties, produce pure, gleaming white flowers. However, their buds are still a bright blue color. These plants are resilient as well, but they cannot withstand frost. They do, however, thrive in warmer climates.

#5. Mother of pearl

Mother of Pearl, often known as ‘Perlmutterschale,’ is an uncommon Platycodon Grandiflorus. This variety produces large pale pink blooms with darker pink veins.

#6. Sentimental blue

To begin with, these plants are a smaller variant of the balloon plant kind, not sentimental. They grow to be approximately 6-12 inches tall throughout the summer and produce multiple brilliant blue flowers about 3 inches wide.

#7. Apoyama

Apoyama

Apoyama is a Platycodon Grandiflorus variety that is particularly delicious. This species is used in Japanese cuisine as a seasoning and herb to prepare a certain Japanese alcoholic beverage, whereas succulent roots can be eaten. Also, they are frequently used in salads and soups.

#8. Apoyama Misato Purple

Although Apoyama Misato hails from East Asia, this variety is abundant in gardens around North America. It produces darker purple blossoms and blooms later in the spring. The blooms are both attractive, easier, and enjoyable to grow.

#9. Komachi

The Komachi variety produces dark blue blooms that never open. Instead, the flowers remain in a constant balloon shape and emit a delightful popping sound when squeezed. In addition, Komachi is a deer-resistant, perennial plant that is simple to grow.

#10. Fairy Snow

Fairy Snow

It’s a dwarf balloon flower cultivar that only grows 6-10 inches tall. The Fairy Snow variety produces white flowers with a diameter of 1.5 inches. And the plant blooms for a long time, with orbicular-shaped leaves.

Also Read:- 20 Beautiful Flowers That Look Like Roses

Nutritional value of balloon flowers

As stated above, balloon flowers or Platycodon grandiflorus are edible in some parts of the world. They generally use the roots and leaves for culinary purposes. And in the eastern parts of the world, people use the blossoms for making desserts. It is the most popular namul vegetable, and it is utilized extensively in Japanese and Korean cuisines. 

The flower and its roots, on the other hand, are incredibly nutritious, as they include calcium, fiber, iron, proteins, and a variety of minerals and vitamins. The nutritional value increases with its numerous analgesic, anxiolytic, and fever-reducing qualities. Balloon flowers are particularly beneficial to those with compromised immune systems, such as aged people and young toddlers.

Growing conditions balloon flowers

Growing conditions balloon flowers

Before we jump into the method of growing balloon flowers, let us explore the optimal conditions for growing them. Doing so would help us arrange for those conditions and ensure our plants thrive and flourish.

#1. Location

So, where to plant these perennial flowering plants? Well, Platycodon grandiflorus flourishes best when planted in a well-lit area. Therefore, choose a dirt and debris-free location that receives full sunlight. 

Aside from this, you should choose a location with loamy, rich, and well-drained soil. Also, make sure the area does not tolerate water clogging, as persistent soggy soil is not good for balloon flower plants. 

#2. Sunlight

As we stated, your plant will thrive better in an area that receives bright sunlight throughout the day. That said, these plants need at least 6- 8 hours of full sunlight daily. However, make sure that the sunlight is not scorching to burn the leaves. So, partial shade, especially during the afternoon, should be preferable. 

#3. Soil

Balloon flowers prefer soil that is organically lush, loamy, and drains well. They don’t thrive in compacted and thick soil, such as clay. Because these plants are prone to root rot, it’s best to keep the soil moist but not damp.

#4. Spacing

Although spacing is not that concerning in the case of  Platycodon grandiflorus, it is preferable to plant them a foot apart from each other. It would provide them enough space to grow and flourish without crowding much. The spacing should be based on the variety of the balloon flower plants and can be increased to even 75 cm. 

#5. pH level

As far as the pH is concerned, you can check your soil for a pH level between 5.5 to 7.5. 

#6. Temperature & Humidity

Balloon flower thrives in climates with typical 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. These plants thrive in zones 5 through 8 in North America. And although hardy, frost can damage young plants and cause established plants to die back in the fall. On the other hand, Platycodon grandiflorus may grow in both wet and dry environments as long as you offer them good moist soil. 

Growing balloon flowers

Now, let’s move on to planting Platycodon grandiflorus or balloon flowers in the garden.

You can begin your quest by buying these plants from a local nursery or starting with seeds. However, we would suggest you go with the nursery Balloon flowers that can be planted directly in the ground outdoors once the winter has passed. They can be planted all year, from spring to summer, although they may not blossom until the next year.

On the other hand, if you wish to grow your plant from seeds, you must begin the process indoors for six to eight weeks. Then, when the weather warms up, you can safely take the container outside or plant the seeds in your garden. When growing from seeds, these plants will take a while to grow and thrive, so they won’t blossom the first year they’re planted.

Propagating balloon flowers

Propagating balloon flowers

#1. Propagation by Seeds

Although not the most popular way to propagate, balloon flower plants can be grown from seeds, provided you have the patience to wait a whole year for the flowers!

Begin preparing the seeds in early spring, around six to eight weeks before the predicted last frost date in your location. For the process, you can use regular potting soil. Spread the seeds out on a potting tray and cover them with 1/16 inch soil. Keep the soil moist, and place the tray in a warm place to germinate the seeds.

After around two weeks, the first seedlings will appear. Give them another two to three weeks before transplanting them to a larger pot or directly into your garden. After the frost has passed, make sure to transplant the new seedlings.

#2. Propagation By Cuttings

Another easy way to propagate balloon flowers is by stem cuttings. Start the process in the late spring. Cut 2 to 4 inches long stems with sterile garden pruners. Remove the lower half layer of the leaves and soak the stem in the rooting hormone. After roots start to appear, plant the cutting in a pot filled with new, well-draining potting soil. 

Water the soil regularly to keep it moist. Wait until new leaves emerge that are strong enough to resist pulling the stem- cutting gently. Then, place your tiny Balloon flower plant directly in the garden or a container, and care for it as you would for a mature plant.

#3. Propagation By Division

Propagation by division is not a very popular way since the roots of balloon flower plants tend to be weak. Nonetheless, if you have enough experience, you can go for it.

You might begin by chopping a root section without completely uprooting the plant. Make sure to take off at least 0.5 inches of the root to allow the new plant to grow. Put the plant in a pot immediately and give it plenty of water.

If you want to cultivate your baby balloon flowers in the garden, dig a hole twice the depth of the root ball and twice the width of the plant’s root. Fill the hole with garden soil and generously water it.

Growing in a container

Growing in a container

Balloon flowers can well be grown in a container. These pants will throve happily in any medium-sized pot for a year or two. However, transplanting Platycodon grandiflorus can be a complex process and should be avoided because the root systems of these plants are fragile. 

It’s critical to water your plant regularly and keep it in a sunny location. When your potted Balloon flower outgrows its container, you should transplant it to the garden. Do it slowly and deliberately so as not to damage the blossom.

Also Read:- 15 Hydroponic Flowers to Grow in Your Backyard

Caring for balloon flowers

Caring for balloon flowers

So, have you made up your mind about growing lovely balloon flowers? Now it’s time to explore the ways to care for these plants. As we said, it is not very tough to care for balloon flower plants, but some basic things should be taken care of. 

#1. Watering

You should be aware that balloon flowers are always thirsty for water. But this should not trick you into overwatering them, as soggy soil may cause root rotting. Instead, be cautious and water your plant to keep the soil moist.

The best method is to hydrate your Balloon flower gently and deeply using a soaker faucet. However, if you don’t water your plant for a few days, it will not die. However, if the ground completely dries out, the flowers will fade.

#2. Fertilizing

If your plant is growing in rich and fertile soil, you may not need to fertilize it. Additionally, balloon flowers are not heavy feeders. However, you can add compost in the autumn to assist these plants in producing more blossoms. It’s also a good idea to use an organic, granulated, slow-release fertilizer in the early spring.

#3. Pruning

Unless you want to give a specific look to your plant, pruning is not essential. That being said, using a sterile pruner or garden shear, cut back tall stems by about half in the late spring. Doing so will give your plant a stockier look.

#4. Deadheading

Deadheading might be necessary for balloon flower plants. However, pinching off the spent blooms and dying stems will help your plant bloom and grow better. 

#5. Winterizing & mulching

Mulching can be a part of your plant’s winterization process. After the blossoming season has passed and you’ve pruned your plant, cover the roots with a thick layer of mulch to keep the plants moist and warm throughout the winter months. However, remember to allow your plant to grow by uncovering it at the start of the spring season.

#6. Pests & issues

Although balloon flowers are hardy and mostly resistant to pests and diseases, certain issues may bother them.

  • Root rotting:

Too much watering may cause the issue of root rotting. Also, if you keep your plant too long in soggy soil, you may find the root system getting rotten eventually. As a result, it’s critical to maintain the soil moist but not wet. In addition, adding sand to the soil may aid in drainage.

  • Snail issues:

Your balloon flower may be too tasty for snails and snugs, and they may consume the tender young leaves of this exquisite plant. Using a beer trap or iron phosphorus may help in safeguarding your plant. Additionally, check if your plant is too wet, as this can exacerbate the problem of slugs and snails. And if you find snails feeding on the leaves, handpicking them can be a way to avoid them. 

  • Deers: 

Not only snails but deers also find balloon flowers pretty attractive. So, guard the young foliage against wild animals. Mature leaves will not attract this issue, however.

Also Read:- Top 7 Best Backpack Sprayer for Your Backyard | Expert Choices

Q1. How fast do balloon flower plants grow?

Ans:- If you plant your plants in the early spring after the threat of frost has passed, you won’t have to wait long. During their first season, the plants should blossom. However, if you plant them in the fall, the blossoms will not appear until the following year.

Q2. Which is the best season to plant these plants?

Ans:- The best season would be the beginning of the spring, after the threat of frost has passed.

Q3. Can balloon flower plants be repotted?

Ans:- Yes, they can be, but they should not be. Since balloon flower plants have a complex and delicate root system, you should not disturb them often. But if your indoor plant grows bigger, you can transfer it to the ground directly.

Q4. Can we grow these plants indoors?

Ans:- Yes, you can grow these plants indoors in containers. Refer to the above sections to learn in detail.

Summary

Choose balloon flowers if flowering plants are your major weakness and you’re seeking low-maintenance plants. Balloon flowers come in various cultivars, allowing you to fill your garden with the ones you want. These plants will not worry you even if you are a rookie gardener. Plant them and provide them with the necessary care.

You are done! Just sit back and enjoy the flower show.

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