Balloon Flower, or Platycodon grandiflorus, is also known as Chinese Bell flower.
The common names of this pretty perennial plant come from the plump found flower buds that resemble hot air balloons or Chinese lanterns before they open.
Blue flowers are unusual in the garden. Keep reading to find out how to grow this flower with a gorgeous shade of blue.
Growing Balloon Flower Perennial
This hardy and easy care perennial is one of my favorite summer blooming perennials. The shape of the flower bud is whimsical, resembling hot air balloons and kids enjoy these flowers in the garden.
It is deer resistant and can take some periods of drought.
Balloon flower does best in full sun but some afternoon shade in the hottest zones is also preferable since it prefers cooler summer temperatures.
Watering and Soil
Chinese bell flower prefers a slightly acidic soil. Adding ground coffee grounds will help to raise the acidity of the soil.
They don’t need much extra watering, although it does best if the soil gets regular moisture, and can take short periods of drought in stride.
Organic matter, such as compost, added in the fall will replenish nutrients lost from flowering and will help them get ready for The following year’s round of growth.
Even thought the buds on this plant are rounded like Chinese lanterns or balloons, when the flowers pop open they form a pretty star like shape.
They are fun to grow with children because kids love the hot air balloon shape and like to pop the flowers!
Flowering time is mid summer and the plant will keep flowering as long as you remember to dead head the spent flowers.
The most desired color is blue, since there are so few garden flowers in this color, but Platycodon grandiflorus also comes in pure white, purple, and pink.
There are both double and single varieties of the flower shape.
This long lived perennial is deer resistant. It is one of the few blue flowers that gardeners can enjoy. The blue and purple colors look great with the contrast of yellow black eyed Susans and Liatris.
Daylilies also make good companion plants.
Balloon flower does well in containers and is great for cut flowers. It attracts butterflies and is a magnet for birds. The plant looks great as a border plant and is lovely in rock gardens.
The plant has a clump forming growth with alternate bright green leaves that form along the tall stems.
Balloon flower will grow to about 1 – 2 1/2 ft. tall, by about a foot. to 18 inches wide. Dwarf varieties won’t grow much taller than 1 foot high.
Late fall or winter planting of seeds is a good idea, since the seeds like stratification. The plant is not overly fond of being disturbed when planted, but careful division is sometimes successful.
Cuttings taken in the spring will root.
This hardy perennial is both cold and drought tolerant and grows well in zones 4-9 and possibly hardy in some zone 3 locations.
If you are looking for a lovely summer blooming flower that is easy to grow and long lived, try growing Balloon Flowers.
Wednesday 23rd of February 2022
This is my favorite perennial in my garden - I have the double in blue…it blooms all through the season (I dead head it when i think of it ;-) and is just a delight. Last year was the first year I’ve saved seeds, I am winter sowing them now and starting some in our county’s master garden greenhouse - those in the greenhouse germinated quickly and are on their way. Will try spring cutting this year as mentioned in this article. What a nice plant it will be to share with friends!
Friday 31st of July 2020
I grow these flowers in zone 5 and currently have a beautiful yes full of Them! Would you suggest planting seeds now? Or late fall?
Sunday 2nd of August 2020
Seeds for balloon flowers are normally sown in spring.
Tuesday 7th of July 2020
I have a balloon plant that the flowers will not open, they stay closed until it’s time to deadhead. Do you have any suggestions?
Monday 13th of July 2020
Balloon flowers open in mid to late summer. It might just be a little early for it. Perhaps try fertilizing it. If the plant is quite old, it might need to be divided. Sometimes perennials will stop flowering when they need division.
Saturday 28th of December 2019
Hello, this is a question and I’m searching for an answer. I live in Fairfield near San Francisco. I have a balloon flower that bloomed all summer. After it died back and night temperatures began to drop into low 40s, I brought into my garage (late October). After about 4 to six weeks, new growth appeared. It’s now very late December. I leave the plant outside during warmer non-rainy days but bring into garage at night as temperatures are in high 30s. Is there any advice (I’m winging it here!) as to what I should be aware, especially fertilizing. I’ve read all I can find on the internet, all says flowers begins in Spring and Summer. I’m scared I will inadvertently kill it!
Thursday 18th of June 2020
I have 3 new white Astras, they want to fall over, are they supposed too
Monday 30th of December 2019
Balloon flowers don't need a lot of fertilizing, but adding some slow release fertilizer in the spring will help it to bounce back after flowering. It is a pretty hardy plant that is relatively easy to care for. Having them in containers presents more of a challenge. They like regular watering and prefer a sunny spot. The main thing to be careful of is root rot which can happen if you over water the plant.