Listen to this podcast on how to grow balloon flowers or platycodons.
This common perennial flower is called the Chinese bell flower. It originally hails from Asia but is now grown around the world. It’s a fun flower to grow with kids because of the shape of the flower buds. You probably know it as balloon flowers.
Balloon flowers are hardy perennial in the campanula family. Their namesake is the white, pink or blue flower bud that slowly puff sup like a hot air balloon. Eventually the flowers open into a star-shaped blossoms. Kids love to press on the flowers once fully inflated to see and hear them pop open.
There are a number of varieties of this carefree perennial. ‘Fuji’ comes in a blue, white or pink selection and features 3 foot tall plants. ‘Shell Pink’ has pale pink blooms on 2 foot tall plants. ‘Sentimental Blue’ only grows 1 foot tall and is great for rock gardens and in the front of flower borders. The Chicago Botanic Garden did a trial of 19 cultivars that you can find on line.
Grow Balloon Flowers
Grow balloon flowers from seed pressed into the soil in spring and kept well watered. It will take a few years for the new plants to reach their full flowering potential. It’s easier to buy nursery grown plants or get divisions from friends or family. Tall varieties will need staking to keep from flopping over. Another way to grow balloon flowers is to grow them near other tall, stiff stemmed perennials such as yarrow and salvia. They will help each other stay vertical. The foliage turns a nice yellow or purple in fall. Enjoy the flowers in the garden or use them as cut flowers indoors.