Balloon flowers are an excellent addition to any garden or indoor space. With its colorful flowers and low maintenance, the plant has its place as one of the most sought-after flowers. If you are interested in how to take care of your balloon flowers, you came to the right place.
What is a Balloon Flower?
|Scientific Name||Platycodon grandiflorus|
|USDA Zone (Hardiness)||Zone 3 to 8|
|Originated from||East Asia, Russia|
|Height||6 to 24 inches|
|Wide||6 to 12 inches|
|Also Known as||Chinese Bellflower, Platycodon|
Before knowing how to take care of balloon flowers, let’s get into their basic information and nature first.
Balloon flower or Platycodon grandifloras is a hardy perennial native to East Asia and Russia. With its compact plant and highly robust resistance, it has become one of the most popular flowers, especially among beginners.
Not only are balloon flowers beautiful, but they are also known for their medicinal and delicious taste. The flowers serve many purposes and low maintenance needs, both edible and supplemental.
The balloon flower is commonly present across meadowy hills as it can get a lower temperature and the presence of sunlight. Lower humidity is also why balloon flowers are more apparent in colder climates.
Belonging to the perennial species, the balloon flower is known for blooming from summer to fall annually. It also belongs on Japan’s list of the Seven Autumn Flowers. A tradition where the Japanese eat seven types of herbs along with rice porridge.
Although native to Asia, the flower also made its way to various parts of Europe and America. The flowers acclimated well that they can even survive a USDA zone 3 to 8. The balloon flower has the Award of Garden Merit from the British Royal Horticultural Society.
The Appearance of Balloon Flowers
The balloon flower got its name from the appearance of its buds. When the flowers of platycodon have yet to bloom, it takes on a balloon-like shape. Then, when the flowers are in full bloom, the five petals will take a form akin to a star.
The flowers of the standard platycodon are primarily blue. However, certain variations such as white and pink are also available. Along the petals, darker veins are spread throughout. When the balloon flower is in bloom, it has a bell-like shape formed through its petals.
Most of its plants can reach a height of two feet. However, some can exceed up to three when their needs are met. With the advent of smaller gardening spaces, the flowers also have smaller varieties that can grow smaller than one foot
. One of these variations is the Platycodon Sentimental Blue which is excellent for apartments and small gardens.
How to Grow a Balloon Flower?
Propagating a balloon flower can come in two ways: seeds and roots. Both methods can have their own set of pros and cons. If you don’t know what entails both processes, we are here to make the decision easier for you.
Propagation Through Seeds
|Days||Stage of the Process|
|20-35 days||First Leaves|
|60 days||Small Plant|
|110 days||First Buds|
|125-135 days||First to Full Bloom|
The balloon flower seeds are present in the middle of the dried-out buds. Most of the time, seeds will be available at the end of autumn to early winter when the flowers start to dry.
The best time to plant the balloon flowers is during the late winter and early spring days. When the frost is mainly gone, the soil and temperature are prime for letting the seeds germinate. Moisture and nutrient-filled soil are an essential part of this process.
After a month, the first two small leaves will show up. If you are growing them within a container along with more seedlings, repotting them individually is made at this stage.
The small plant will start producing tiny buds at around two to three months. Lastly, you can watch your flowers bloom from days 125 to 135.
Propagation Through Roots
Like the seed method, the best time to start this process is at the end of winter and early spring. Although balloon roots can be sensitive, an old enough plant can be available for propagation. The best way to not damage the parent plant is to pick up a root far away from the central clump.
Dig around a foot from the main plant and pick up a root. You can use gardening shears or pruning scissors to ensure that you can make a clean cut and avoid damage to the plant.
Then the root should be placed in an enclosed moist space for germination. After a few weeks, leaves should start to bloom from the roots.
How to Take Care of Balloon Flower?
Now that we know how to grow a balloon flower, let’s see the steps to keep their beautiful flowers healthy and thriving.
Keep The Plant in Proper Temperature
Although hardy against colder climates, balloon flowers are not resistant to frost. The platycodon must be brought indoors for winter to avoid killing the plant. However, pruning the branches for winter can help the plant survive if the plant is in the garden.
During summertime, you don’t have to worry too much. Balloon flowers can withstand direct sunlight and high humidity. However, providing the plant with watering when the soil is dry can help it thrive.
Provide Supplements for the Soil
Although the balloon flower is alright on its own, providing a bit of nutrition is an excellent way to keep the flowers blooming. Soils such as cocopeat and vermicompost are mainly the best selection you can have for the soil.
A mix of amino acids and fertilizers is another supplement you can give your plants. Giving your plants a boost of nutrients every month is enough to keep them healthy.
Avoid Too Much Watering
Although there are fewer ways to kill a balloon flower plant, too much watering will do the trick. Not only will it cause root rot, but it can also attract certain pests such as snails and slugs.
These small animals are known to wander in gardens. However, a surplus of them can be detrimental to the state of your balloon flower. It’s best to have proper drainage and keep the soil moist but not overflowing.
Do Deadheading to Prevent Overgrowth
Although self-sowing can be an excellent advantage for the balloon plant, it can also cause harm.
The plant can overstep garden boundaries and spread far and wide when left alone. Putting the plant in a pot is an excellent way to keep this from happening. Deadheading, or removing the flowers past their blooming stage, is also another way to keep the plant from reseeding the area.
Benefits of Balloon Flower
Although balloon flowers are mostly known for their colorful flowers, they can have so much more to offer, such as:
The balloon flower roots also belong to the long list of Chinese herbal medicines. It’s been a belief since ancient times that the plant is an excellent treatment for various illnesses such as cough, allergies, and colds.
In modern science, the plant is found to have some link to lowering cholesterol and improving allergies. This medical advantage is due to the type of saponins on the plant’s root called platycoside.
Other diseases such as cancer, insulin resistance, and Alzheimer’s are also under research. However, most benefits are only observed in vitro or through test tube experiments. The lack of human or other animal biology research prevents the plant from being a concrete medicine.
Although East Asia has their fair share of various balloon flower dishes, Korea still stands on the top. Whether fresh or dried, there is a Korean dish with the balloon flower root as the main ingredients.
Also known as doraji, the balloon flower root is a delicacy in Korean cuisine. It can be a sweet dessert, tangy seasoned dish, or relaxing tea. It also serves as a side dish such as dorajimuchim, a stir-fried dish with a hot spicy sauce.
The balloon flower root can be bitter when prepared as is. The bitterness can be eliminated by rubbing salt on the fresh roots. It leaves a crunchy texture and a mixture of earthy and nutty taste.
Easy Beginner Plant
If you are a novice to gardening, starting with the beautiful balloon flowers can be an excellent choice. With its resilient nature, forgetting to flower it for a week or two will not cause it to die immediately.
Excellent Indoor Ornamental Plant
Small gardens or indoor spaces can accommodate the balloon flower with no problem. As long as the area has some partial sunlight, such as with glass windows, your balloon flowers can thrive easily.
With its resilient nature and many benefits, the balloon flower is one of the most popular flowering plants. With this caring guide and tips, you can ensure that you can take excellent care of your balloon flower.