Perennial Overview: Balloon Flower


Discover how to grow Balloon Flower with instructions on starting seed, transplanting, site selection, care and maintenance, water and fertilization requirements, pests and disease, and harvesting and storage.

Balloon Flower Stats at a Glance

Botanical Name: Platycodon grandiflorus

Common Name(s): Chinese bellflower, Japanese bellflower, Platycodon

Height: 2.5-3.5 feet

Soil Conditions:  Well-drained, slightly acidic

Sun: Full sun/partial shade

Soil pH Conditions: Slightly acidic

Planting Instructions

Can I Start Balloon Flower from Seed?

To start indoors, fill individual peat pots with a fertile commercial soil starter and moisten.  Sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the soil. Press them lightly into the soil to ensure contact with growing medium. Place in a room with a constant temperature of 65-75°F.  Cover with clear plastic wrap to maintain the soil moisture and temperature.  Keep the soil moist.  When seedlings appear, remove the plastic wrap and move to a sunny location.

Set out seedlings when they have 3-4 sets of true leaves.


When to Start Seeds: >6-8 weeks prior to planting
Time to Germination: 10-15 days
Light/Darkness Requirements: Light

 Seeds can be direct sown into the garden as soon as the threat of frost has passed in the spring.


When Do I Plant Balloon Flower?

Balloon Flowers are cold sensitive and should not be planted until after the last frost.  Plants will perform best when planted after the daytime temperatures are a consistent 60-65°F and the nighttime temperatures do not drop below 55°F.


Where Do I Plant Balloon Flower?

Balloon flowers perform best in locations with full sun but do not like hot weather.  In areas that are hot, may perform better in partial shade.  May not perform well in areas with both high temperatures and high humidity for extended periods.

Plants require soil that is well drained with consistent moisture levels. Incorporating several inches of organic matter into the soil when preparing the bed will improve growth and development.

Soil Type: Well-drained, slightly acidic
Sun Exposure: Full sun/partial shade
Soil pH: Slightly acidic


How Far Apart Do I Plant Balloon Flower?

Balloon flowers require a good 12-18” between plants for adequate air circulation.

Balloon Flower Plant Care and Maintenance

Once established, most perennials require very little routine care and maintenance.


How Often Should I Water Balloon Flower?

For many perennials, including balloon flower, average rainfall is sufficient to keep the plants healthy.  Supplementation may be necessary in droughty conditions.

New transplants and seedlings require consistent moisture.

Mulch around the plant will help to lock in moisture.


Should I Fertilize Balloon Flower?

Most perennials do not require a specific fertilization regiment.  Fertilizing decisions should be based on a soil test.  If a soil test cannot be obtained and you feel that your perennial bed would benefit from fertilization, keep it light.  Work in a small amount of a low nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 around the plants in the early spring and once or twice at six-week intervals.

Fertilize the soil around the plant at least 6” from the plant base. Irrigate into the soil.


Additional Care Instructions

Be careful when weeding the flower garden in the spring. Balloon flowers are one of the latest to emerge and can be inadvertently pulled up.  It’s best to mark the area where they grow.

Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continual blooming.

Balloon Flower Diseases

The most common diseases associated with this plant include: very few persistent diseases.  The plant can be affected by drought, drowning, and edema.

Balloon Flower Pests

The most common pests associated with this plant include: very few persistent pests.

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