Balloon Flowers

Balloon flowers' petals flare out so that the bottom of the flower is broader than the top and shaped like a bell.

balloon flower

Photo: yokolovesme / alasdairmccombe

Balloon Flower, closed

Balloon flowers have unique buds that look round and full of air just like a balloon and so their common name is descriptive.

The genus name comes from 2 Greek words “platys” meaning broad and “kodon” meaning bell, and members of the Platycodon genus usually have blue flowers, but there are some varieties that are white or  pink.

Balloon flowers belong to the Campanula family because when the blooms open the petals flare out so that the bottom of the flower is broader than the top and shaped like a bell. Plants usually grow about 20 inches tall, but there are some dwarf varieties.

How To Grow

Balloon flowers enjoy sandy, well drained soil in full sun or partial shade and after planting they do not like to be disturbed, so cannot be divided. Seeds can be sown in the spring, but most gardeners buy young plants from garden centers so that they will bloom the first summer they are planted.

Enjoy Them In A Vase

Perennial balloon flowers make good cut flowers if they are picked late in the afternoon or early evening and immediately plunged into deep water. Strip off the leaves and re-cut the stems the next day.

Origin

These flowers are native to China where they were used extensively for culinary and medicinal purposes. They also grow very well in Japan so I have been told.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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