Balloon flowers (Platycodon) are excellent for borders or rock gardens. The flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies thanks to their wide-open petals. These perennials self-seed, although they do not spread aggressively. Overall, balloon flower care is fairly easy and with the exception of root rot in areas with a lot of rainfall, these plants are fairly resistant to pests and diseases. The taller varieties can get a little floppy. You can stake them or plant them in clumps so they support each other.
Table of Contents
- Types of balloon flowers
- Balloon flower care: light conditions
- What soil does the plant prefer
- Balloon flower care: watering
- Temperature and humidity
- What fertilizers are suitable
- Cutting balloon flower
- Propagation of platycodon
- Common pests and plant diseases
- Can you grow platycodon in containers
Types of balloon flowers
There are several popular varieties of balloon flowers, including:
- Platycodon grandiflorus Astra series: this variety forms double flowers with 10 petals in blue, pink or white. They are ideal for growing from seed.
- P. grandiflorus Fuji series: this is the most sold variety and also the largest, with 30 cm long stems and flowers in blue, pink or white.
- P. grandiflorus ‘Komachi’: the violet-blue flowers of this cultivar remain in their inflated cushion stage even after flowering.
- P. ‘Sentimental Blue’: This dwarf cultivar grows about 5 inches tall and has many 1 to 2 inch purple flowers.
Balloon flower care: light conditions.
You’ll get the most blooms if you plant balloon flowers in full sun (at least six hours of sunlight most days). However, they are also comfortable in partial shade and may even prefer some shade where the afternoon sun is particularly hot.
What kind of soil does the plant prefer
Balloon flowers prefer an organic-rich, loamy soil that has good drainage. They do not do well in dense soil. They prefer a pH in the range of 5.5 to 7.5.
Balloon flower care: watering
Keep the soil of young plants evenly moist, but not too wet. Once established, flowers like moderate moisture in the soil, but can tolerate short dry spells. They do not need much additional watering unless there is a long period without rainfall that dries out the soil.
Temperature and humidity
Their ideal temperature range is between 15 and 26 degrees Celsius, but they can tolerate higher temperatures if they get some shade in the afternoon. Frost can kill young plants and will cause established plants to fall back into the ground in the fall. Balloon flowers can tolerate both moist and dry air, provided they have the right amount of soil moisture.
What fertilizers are suitable
What care balloon flower needs in terms of fertilization, we clarify below. Again, the plant is easy to care for , because, as a rule, it does not need additional fertilization, if you have a fertile soil. But a layer of compost in the fall can help the flower replenish the energy it used during the flowering period. If you have poor soil, use a slow-release, all-purpose fertilizer in early spring.
Cut balloon flower
Pruning is not usually necessary for balloon flowers, but can be done for appearance. To get stockier plants, you can cut back tall stems by about half in late spring. This can prevent the plants from toppling over. When you cut off faded flowers, you keep the plants looking good and blooming again and again. Do not remove the entire stem, just the faded flowers. The remaining buds on the stem will continue to open.
Propagation of platycodon
Balloon flowers are very popular with gardeners because they are hardy and multiply quickly, the more the merrier, but you have to be careful how you propagate the plant . Propagation by division is generally not recommended, because the deep taproots do not like to be disturbed. Instead, you can propagate the plant by stem cuttings. Using sterile, sharp garden shears, cut a piece of the stem about 5 inches long and remove the lower foliage to expose the bare stem.
If you wish, you can treat the bare stem with a rooting hormone and then plant it in moist soil. Keep the soil moist (but not wet) while you wait for the roots to establish. Once you see leaf growth and feel resistance when you gently pull on the cutting, you know the roots have grown. Then the plant is ready to be transplanted into the garden.
Grow the flower from seed
Sow the seeds indoors in early spring, about six to eight weeks before the expected last frost date in your area, using seed mix or regular potting soil. Cover the seeds just barely with soil. Place the container in a warm location until the seeds have germinated. When the weather warms up, you can transplant the seedlings outdoors. If you plant the seeds directly in the garden, you should do so after the last frost, but keep in mind that they probably won’t flower the first year.
Common pests and plant diseases
Balloon flowers generally attract slugs, as do many other outdoor flowering plants, which can be lured away from the plants with bait. However, crown rot, root rot, botrytis gray mold, powdery mildew or foliar fungus can affect the plant. Crown and root rots can cause plants to die over the winter. Dispose of plants with gray mold quickly to prevent it from spreading.
Can you grow platycodon in containers.
You can grow balloon flower on the balcony , because it does well in containers and as a cut flower. It attracts butterflies and is a magnet for birds. Plant the flower in the front part of a border or in a container in fertile, moist, but well-drained soil. Cut back the flowering shoots in the fall. The plant suffers if its roots are disturbed. Therefore, do not divide or move them once established.