Balloon Flowers: How to Grow and Care (Complete Guide 2022)

If you are a plant lover and gardening enthusiast, you must have heard about balloon flowers. These gorgeous flowers are used to ornament any garden or create beautiful ground coverage.

Even if you are not so familiar with them, we have you covered. In this article, we look at balloon flowers in detail; what they are, their types, how you should plant them, care for them, and even a few awesome products to grow some in your own garden!

Let’s get going!


Balloon Flowers: What Are They?

Balloon flowers or the Platycodon grandiflorus are perennial flowers that grow in clusters or clumps. They are super easy to grow and care for and are a favorite amongst gardeners.

They belong to the bellflower family, even though after they bloom, they do not look like bells at all. Instead, their buds actually look like blown-up balloons that eventually bloom to form star-shaped flowers with 2 to 3-inch-long petals. It is best to plant them after winters are over, especially during springtime. After this, they will continue to grow and bloom all summer.

The roots of these flowers do not bother or destroy other plants. However, they can self-sow themselves through seeds that start growing new shoots once they land in the fertile ground during summers.

These plants can grow up to 36 inches tall and 18 inches wide in the wild. The kinds of flowers that are cultivated are actually dwarfs that do not spread as much in either height or width. Plus, if you keep deadheading them, they will grow and flourish.

Balloon flowers are ideal garden plants as they are not toxic to humans or animals. Their roots are also edible and are used in an array of medicines like those for aiding digestion, dietary supplements, anti-inflammation tablets, and even cough suppressants.

OUR FAVORITES

  • Sufficient quantity of seeds in one pack
  • Good for beginners
  • Size: 1000 seeds
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  • Ample quantity
  • Packaged with airbags to avoid damage
  • Fast shipping
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  • All-natural
  • Non-GMO
  • Treatment Area: 4 seeds per plant
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Specification Overview

  • Common names: Balloon flower, Chinese bellflower, Japanese bellflower
  • Scientific name: Platycodon grandiflorus
  • Family: Campanulaceae (includes bellflowers and lobelia)
  • Species: Grandiflorus
  • Order: Asterales
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Height: 1-2½ ft.
  • Width: 1-1½ ft.
  • Petal size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Spacing between plants: 4 to 18 inches
  • Colors: Blue, white, pink, green, blue-green
  • Light exposure: Sunny, partly shady
  • Soil texture: Organically rich and loamy, good drainage, medium-level moisture
  • pH of soil: 5.5 to 7.5, acidic to slightly alkaline
  • Water requirements: Moderately wet soil
  • Blooming season: Summers
  • Growth: Moderate
  • Tolerance: Deer, drought, heat
  • Hardiness zone: 3 to 8 USDA
  • Temperature: 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Can be planted with: Bee balm, black-eyed Susan, blazing star, daylily, lilyturf
  • Origin: China, Korea, Japan, Russia
  • Attraction: Easy maintenance, attract birds/bees/butterflies, cut flowers, seeds can grow in containers
  • Propagation: Self-propagation through seeds, division technique
  • Why plant: Creating borders, perennial bedding, rock garden ornaments
  • Pests/diseases: Slugs, snails, rotting roots

Best Products for Growing Balloon Flowers

Now that you know all about the various types of balloon flowers, how you can grow them, along with the benefits they bring, let’s look at a few products you can use to ultimately fill up your garden!

1. Outsidepride Balloon Flower Blue Platycodon Grandiflorus Plant Seed – Top Pick

You will know they are ready once shoots appear.

  • Style: Blue Balloon Flower Seeds
  • Application: Garden use or grow in containers
  • Size: 1000 seeds
  • Treatment Area: 4 seeds per plant

Pros

  • Ample quantity
  • Packaged with airbags to avoid damage
  • Fast shipping

2. Outsidepride Balloon Flower White Platycodon Grandiflorus Plant Seed – Best non-GMO seeds

Make sure to plant these during spring so that they bloom all summer. Also, make sure to keep the soil moistened until the seeds germinate but make sure to rule out waterlogging.

  • Style: White Balloon Flower Seeds
  • Application: Garden use or grow in containers
  • Size: 1000 seeds
  • Treatment Area: 4 seeds per plant

Pros

  • Sufficient quantity of seeds in one pack
  • Good for beginners

3. Outsidepride Balloon Flower Rose Platycodon Grandiflorus Plant Seed – All-Natural Balloon Flower Seeds

You can easily sow and maintain these plants if you allow them to germinate in damp soil with enough sunlight. The seeds are to be used within one year, so make sure to plant your flowers before they expire.

  • Style: Pink Balloon Flower Seeds
  • Application: Garden use or grow in containers
  • Size: 1000 seeds
  • Treatment Area: 4 seeds per plant

Pros

  • All-natural
  • Non-GMO

Different Types of Balloon Flowers

Before we get into how you can care for and grow your very own balloon flowers, let’s look at their various types. This will help you decide which variety you actually like and would love to plant in your garden.

Below are some of the more common types of balloon flowers available in the market:

  1. Fuji Blue
  2. Double Blue
  3. Hakone Double blue
  4. Hakone Double White
  5. Mother of Pearl
  6. Sentimental Blue
  7. Apoyama
  8. Apoyama Misato Purple
  9. Komachi
  10. Fairy Snow
  11. Fuji Pink
  12. Astra Double Blue
  13. Astra Pink

Let’s now look at the most popular varieties often picked up for gardening in detail:

Astra Double (Platycodon grandiflorus Astra series)

This is a dwarf variety of perennial balloon flowers that can easily be cultivated in containers. They can also be used to create garden edges and bedding and even as ornaments in rock gardens.

The plants grow to be about 6 to 12 inches tall, while their width is usually between 6 and 9 inches. The flowers measure 3 inches in diameter, with a gorgeous dual row of up to 10 lavender-blue petals.

Astra Double grow very well if they are deadheaded frequently. They are also resistant to most pests and diseases and are, therefore, low maintenance.

Astra Pink (Platycodon grandiflorus Astra series)

Astra pink is very similar to the Astra double in terms of size. The plant grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches and spreads about 6 to 9 inches wide. The flowers have a single row of 5 light pink petals. These plants can grow in containers as well as gardens and grow stronger with deadheading.

Fuji Blue (P. grandiflorus Fuji Series)

Fuji blue is taller than the plants in the Astra series and can grow up to 24 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.

Fuji Blue flowers are smaller than the flowers in the Astra series and are about 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter. They have a single row of 5 beautiful deep blue petals. They may produce double blooms. And due to their long stems, they are perfect for planting in the center of bedding.

Double Blue

This plant has flowers with 2 rows of petals, with 10 petals in total. These are deep violet-blue in color, hence the name. They are perfect for creating an ornamental flower bed and can grow up to 24 to 30 inches in height. These can also be paired with other flower species.

Sentimental Blue

The sentimental blue variety spreads out more than other balloon flowers. They grow only about 6 to 12 inches tall but can spread as wide as 12 to 18 inches. The stunning 3-inch flowers have a single row of 5 blue petals. This kind is perfect for creating garden edges.


The Ultimate Guide to Growing Balloon Flowers

Now that you know some gorgeous varieties of balloon flowers available for garden cultivation, you can easily make a pick.

However, picking out your favorites is just the first step. You really need to know how to grow, care and tend to these flowers.

So, here’s everything you need to know about growing balloon flowers.

Propagating balloon flowers

Once you pick out the varieties you want to plant in your garden, the next step is cultivation. There are 3 main ways of propagating balloon flowers. These include propagation from seeds, nursery starts, or cuttings. Other methods have not been found to work for these plants, especially due to their fragile roots.

Here are more details about the three ways of propagation:

Using seeds

Seeds need to be prepped 6-8 weeks before the date of propagation. After winters and during springs is the best time to do this so that they can bloom and grow during summers.

You will need to place the seeds in dampened soil under sunlight to allow them to germinate. Once you see two sets of true leaves, you need to slowly introduce them to the environment. To do this, place them in fresh air and sunlight for a few hours 3 to 5 days prior to the day you decide to plant them in your garden.

This process is called hardening and makes the seedlings ready for plantation in garden soil. Be extra careful in handling the roots as they are very delicate and fragile.

We recommend creating a hole in your soil that is just the size of your root ball, as the soil surface for the seedling should match with the garden soil.

Make sure the soil is wet but not waterlogged, as this can damage the roots. It is also possible to directly sow seedlings into the soil, but such seeds may take longer to produce flowers.

Using nursery starts

Using nursery starts to plant balloon flowers is pretty simple and straightforward. Simply transplant the nursery starts to your garden during springtime while making sure that seedlings are neither buried nor elevated.

Always make sure to remove the plant carefully from its container so that you do not damage the roots. It is also important to make sure the garden soil is damp but not waterlogged.

Using cuttings

The third and final method you can use to plant balloon flowers is by using cuttings. To do this, you will need a sharp pair of clean pruners.

First, cut off growing stem tips from existing plants. It is best to cut off 4 inches of the stem along with the tip. Once you’re done, go ahead and use your prunes to neatly scrape off about 2 inches of the foliage to reveal the bare stem inside.

Now, dip this bared stem into powdered rooting hormone and place it in a prepared container with damp soil. Once the shoots appear, carefully transplant them into your garden while being careful of fragile roots.

Caring for balloon flowers

Planting balloon flowers is not the only thing you have to do to have beautiful balloon flowers growing in your garden. You must have a deep understanding of how to care for them, make them grow healthier, and enable them to thrive.

If not propagated, these perennials can also self-sow their seeds but will not spread wildly. Balloon flowers are resistant to pests and diseases and are therefore low-maintenance. Taller varieties might sometimes not be able to stand on their own, which is why it’s a great idea to plant them in clumps or stake them for added support.

The following aspects must be taken into consideration once you decide upon propagation:

Sunlight

These flowers love the sun and can thrive in the summer heat. They need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily to grow properly. If it is very hot, they can also easily thrive in partly shady areas.

Soil conditions

These flowers love organically rich and loamy soil. The soil should be damp but not flooded as this can damage the roots. Make sure the plants are in a well-drained area. Dense, clay-like soil is a big no. The soil pH should be balanced between acidic to slightly alkaline (5.5 to 7.5).

Water

These flowers do not die off during small bouts of drought. Additional water is not required as long as the soil does not dry out and there is enough rain.

Temperature

As mentioned earlier, these plants love warm weather and summers. The ideal temperature for these plants is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can survive in even higher temperatures if they get shade during one half of the day.

However, frost kills younger plants, saplings, and germinating roots.

Humidity

Balloon flowers can thrive in both humid and dry conditions as long as the soil has enough moisture packed in for plant survival.

Hardiness

These flowers are hardy and grow well in USDA hardy zones 3 to 8.

Fertilizer

Typically, fertilizer is not required if the soil is organically rich. However, you can add a layer of compost during autumn. This will help the plant replenish itself with energy that was expended during the growing period. An all-purpose, slow-releasing fertilizer can be used during springtime if you have soil that is not rich in nutrients.

Pests and diseases

Although these flowers are resistant to pests and most plant diseases, slugs and snails might still attack them. To keep these at bay, it is a smart idea to use baits.

Use fungicides if plant diseases such as crown rot, root rot, botrytis gray mold, powdery mildew, or fungal leaf spots appear. These can kill off the plants during winter if not taken care of.

Also, throw away any plants that catch gray mold, as this can spread to all others.

Additional growing tips

  • Transplant all plants gently to avoid damaging the roots
  • Always plant germinating seeds and saplings at the same level as garden soil
  • Make sure to keep the soil well-drained
  • Do not fertilize flowers unless needed, as excess nitrogen can cause leggy stems
  • Use lime to balance out the acidity
  • Use coffee grounds to minimize alkalinity
  • Water once a week
  • Grow dwarf varieties in containers and pots
  • Pair with other flowers such as Bee Balm, Black-Eyed Susan, Blazing Star, Daylily, and Lilyturf

Balloon Flower Maintenance

Balloon flowers are fairly easy to maintain. With proper deadheading, they can grow stronger and bloom better. For optimal growth, you should consider the following:

Pruning

Pruning is not a must for these flowers. You can prune them if you want the plants to look a particular way in terms of appearance. You may cut off taller stems during springtime to achieve stockier plants that do not require additional support.

Deadheading

Deadheading is considered ideal for these flowers. Removing the spent blossoms from these plants encourages blooming. Just pick off the wilted petals, and leave the buds and stems behind to allow the plant to continue producing beautiful flowers.

Leggy stems

Leggy stems can be a concern with these flowers. This happens when the roots start to grow horizontally instead of going deep into the soil vertically.

To prevent this, you can chop off half the stems during late spring to create wider growth. During the fall, simply cut off and remove all dead stems. Make sure you do not over-fertilize as an excess of nitrogen causes leggy stems.

Use stakes to keep stems upright and be careful not to damage any new growth.

Balloon Flower Uses and Benefits

Medicine

The compounds obtained from this plant have a lot of use in medicine. These extracts are antimicrobial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-allergenic. This is why these plants are widely used in Korean and Chinese medicines.

These plants are especially used in medicines used to treat coughs, sore throat, tonsillitis, asthma, flu, respiratory infections, tuberculosis, diabetes, and some other inflammatory diseases.

Balloon flowers are great sedatives and superb analgesics and help maintain blood pressure and boost the immune system.

Nutrition

Balloon flowers are known as ‘Dojari’ in Korea and are used widely in cooking. Both the plant and the roots are used to create meals. These include bibimbap, sweet-smelling rice, and desserts such as doraji-jeonggwa.

The roots have a distinct flavor and are prepared after being rubbed with sea salt. This removes the bitterness and makes them ready to cook.

The plants provide many nutrients such as calcium, fiber, iron, proteins, vitamins, and other minerals. This makes them great for people with weak immune systems, such as kids and elderly people.


Final Thoughts

Balloon flowers are true all-rounders. They are low maintenance, hardy, and resistant to most pests and plant diseases. They can self-sow, are gorgeous, and have their own set of nutritional and medicinal benefits.

We made sure not to leave even a bit of detail out when discussing balloon flowers in this article. We hope you now understand this beautiful perennial plant better and know how to take good care of it if you choose to plant them in your garden.

Even if you were not planning to plant these, you definitely should! Happy planting!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do balloon flowers spread?

Since balloon flowers can self-sow their seeds, it is possible for them to spread and grow newer plants. Some varieties grow wider than others and take up more space. So, eventually, you might end up with a beautiful bed of these plants even if you do not put in any manual effort.

Do balloon flowers grow back every year?

Balloon flowers grow back in summers once the old, wilted flowers are removed during fall. Even though they do not grow in the cold, they bloom right back each summer.

How tall does a balloon flower grow?

Different species grow to different heights. Cultivated dwarf species are shorter than the ones that grow in the wild. The average height for dwarf species is 2-2½ feet.

Do balloon flowers bloom all summer?

Balloon flowers love the sun and bloom all throughout summers and only stop when autumn arrives. Deadheading can encourage them to stay active throughout summer.

How do you winterize balloon flowers?

Use an inch or two of mulch to protect the plant. This can also be substituted with compost or dead leaves, which can be placed on the soil to keep the plant wet and warm.

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