How to Grow and Care for Balloon Flowers

PLATYCODON GRANDIFLORUS

Balloon flower, or Platycodon grandiflorus, is a native of the Russian Far East, China, Japan, and Korea that has become a garden sensation in the United States.

Close up of two blue-purple balloon flowers in bloom.

A member of the Campanulaceae family that includes bellflower and lobelia, its common name derives from puffy, balloon-like buds that burst open into starry blossoms.

The best part is that in addition to white, it comes in shades of blue, which is a rare treat in nature.

Aren't balloon flowers beautiful? We'll teach you how to grow them: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/flowers/balloon-flower/

And while P. grandiflorus is not a native blue flower, its hardy, disease-resistant nature and vibrant perennial blossoms have made it a jewel of American gardens.

A Border Beauty

Also called Chinese bellflower, P. grandiflorus is the perfect plant for a sunny border garden, growing in clumps that fill in densely, often reaching over two feet in height.

Platycodon grandiflorus flowers| GardenersPath.com

It thrives in good, loamy soil that’s well-drained and moderately moist. Here, it establishes a sturdy root system, and seeds dropped at season’s end have every chance of successful germination the following spring.

I like to leave the withered end-of-summer plants for winter interest. Then, late in the next spring after other plants have begun to grow, P. grandiflorus begins to show signs of life. That’s when I prune away the decayed stalks of the previous year.

Are you growing beautiful blue and white balloon flowers? We share our tips: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/flowers/balloon-flower/

As summer wears on, and depending upon your energy level and the number of plants you have, you may deadhead to encourage blooming, and you may prune leggy plants for a more compact appearance.

In addition, you may want to consult our Complete Guide to Dividing Perennials if you decide to thin out your plants to make room for others, or to share with gardening friends.

P. grandiflorus likes to be left alone once in the ground, so be sure to approach its fleshy taproot with care.

Platycodon grandiflorus Plant Facts

  • Average moisture
  • Clumping perennial
  • Easy to grow
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Grow from seeds or purchased plants
  • Introduced species
  • May reach over two feet in height
  • Well-drained loamy soil
  • Zones 3 to 8

Where to Buy

Astra Double balloon flower plants in 5-inch pots are available from Nature Hills Nursery.

Astra Double Blue Balloon Flower
Astra Double Blue Balloon Flower

Platycodon ‘Astra Double Blue’ is a hardy disease- and pest-resistant perennial that blooms all summer.

Family Favorite

P. grandiflorus may be sown from seed or plants at any time during the growing season.

| GardenersPath.com

If it doesn’t have time to bloom this year, look forward to it next spring.

Ask the kids to help you add this perennial gem to your outdoor space. It’s a great choice for gardening with children because it’s easy to grow, comes back year after year, and the inflated buds never cease to delight. It’s always been my son’s favorite.

Will you be planting P. grandiflorus in your garden this year? Tell us in the comments section below.


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A collage of photos showing purple and white balloon flowers.

Product photo via Nature Hills Nursery. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

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Erick Hayden
Erick Hayden (@guest_962)
2 years ago

Is it possible for me to have one indoors from year to year? Are there different techniques to enable flowering again after winter with an indoor potted Platycodon?

Mark McGee
Mark McGee (@guest_2132)
1 year ago

This beautiful flower popped up out of nowhere last summer in of all places my boxwood shrub! There are two adjoining plants this season, the taller one being 55 inches high! Has anyone heard of them growing this tall? They are definitively astra double blue balloon flowers (Platycodon grandifloris).

Mark A McGee
Mark A McGee (@guest_2185)
Reply to  Mark McGee
1 year ago

I have lots of photos if you’re interested!

Mark McGee
Mark McGee (@guest_2186)
1 year ago

My pictures are posted on Facebook.

Angela
Angela (@guest_4269)
11 months ago

I’m gonna try it. Saw them in nursery and gonna give a try. They were listed as a top 10 perinneal for clay soil on another site? Any insight

Helen
Helen (@guest_4388)
11 months ago

When to plant?

Melva Henderson
Melva Henderson (@guest_4393)
11 months ago

I’m transplanting these. We’ve moved to the woods near a lake in North central Texas, so I’m wondering if the deer are going to eat them. They’re very effortless, & I love the blue.
I’d love to have some white ones!

Vicki
Vicki (@guest_4396)
11 months ago

Love these and luck with them on my deck.

Craig
Craig (@guest_4423)
Reply to  Vicki
11 months ago

I was wondering about keeping mine in a pot larger than it came in. How do the ones on your deck do in pots?

Denise
Denise (@guest_4440)
11 months ago

I love my balloon flowers but once they are 12-15 inches, the plants don’t stand up. They can’t support the weight, I guess. Do I need to stake them?

Cheryl
Cheryl (@guest_4575)
10 months ago

I have a blue ballon flower plant that has increased in size since I planted it three years ago. This year I am getting multiple flowers, but the stems all grow away from the center before turning up and so the plant itself does not look very pretty. Would this be because
the plant does not get afternoon sun?

Susan
Susan (@guest_4641)
Reply to  Nan Schiller
10 months ago

I read they do great with just afternoon sun. I planted 5 small plants last fall here in Colorado zone 5 on the west side of the house and though they were slow to make an appearance this Spring I just was rewarded with my first blossom.

Cindi Altman
Cindi Altman (@guest_4712)
10 months ago

I was fortunate to acquire some starts of the blue and also the white balloon flowers last year. They have done extremely well and I love how they add interest to my gardens.

Kellie Harding
Kellie Harding (@guest_4871)
9 months ago

Will the Playtcodon send runners into the grass? Will it grow out of control? Do you need an area that can contain it?

Emily
Emily (@guest_5481)
Reply to  Nan Schiller
5 months ago

I didn’t know the plant would spread before I planted mine almost four years ago. I’m going to transplant my balloon flowers into full sun this year. Do you have recommendations on how to transplant? Also, do you have recommendations on how to remove the additional growth from an unwanted spot? It jumped the bed and went into the grass (we just mow over it, but I would like to handle it properly).

Jackie
Jackie (@guest_5028)
8 months ago

My balloon flowers get over six foot tall and when they bloom they are so tall and heavy they end up lying on the ground. Is there a time I can prune them so they are shorter by the time they bloom?

Sharon Rose
Sharon Rose (@guest_5211)
7 months ago

I just bought a house and I have saw where there are balloon flowers still in the pots. I’m just going to learn as I go how to take care of these flower gardens. lol. I wanted to know should I go ahead and plant these in the ground now or take them in and care for them and plant in ground different season. I also have elephant plants. I really don’t want these to get out of hand so I did cut them down and cleaned up last night.

Ruth
Ruth (@guest_5316)
7 months ago

I’m a novice gardener. About 3 months ago I bought the balloon flower. It is in a 6” pot and had lots of blooms. I deadheaded spent blooms but now it’s not producing any blooms. After Reading your column I’m thinking that I need to put it in a larger pot so that the tap root can have more room. I’ve given bloom booster flower food and it get at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Is there something else I can do? Ruth

Anne Smith
Anne Smith (@guest_6256)
1 month ago

Hello, l planted the beautiful blue ones today, l can’t wait for their show to amaze me

Margret
Margret (@guest_6305)
1 month ago

Hello, i just planted platycodon today and I’ve never really planted flowers before, is platycodon a bad starter flower? Also I live where it’s cold and summers don’t get very warm, but I decided to keep it as an inside flower but I can put it on my balcony if that’s necessary. But i’m not really sure if my flower will succeed because I’m a starter at gardening but I hope it will! Also the seed packet said that the seed needed to stay at 20 C degrees, so I guess it can only stay by my window at day… Read more »

Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller (@rellihcsnan8)
Member
Reply to  Margret
1 month ago

Hi Margret – Balloon flower is generally grown outdoors, as it spreads by vigorous runners and often exceeds two feet in height. However, dwarf varieties may be successfully cultivated indoors. Sprout your seeds per package instructions in a good quality potting medium. Use a container with good drainage holes that can accommodate the plant’s mature dimensions. Place the pot in a warm location with good sunlight. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. When your seedlings have two sets of true leaves, thin them out to avoid overcrowding, keeping only the strongest. If you find the days are warm… Read more »

Cheryl Shepherd
Cheryl Shepherd (@guest_6403)
1 month ago

I live in New Zealand & have 3 Platycondon plants that flowered beautifully over summer. We are now heading into Winter & my plants are not looking great. The leaves are turning yellow. Should I cut them back now or wait until our Spring in September? I’d appreciate some advice. Thank you. Cheryl

Torri
Torri (@guest_6486)
1 month ago

I bought a blooming plant. Can I cut the bloom stem off? They’re unsightly.

Sarah McCormick
Sarah McCormick (@guest_6542)
29 days ago

Could this plant work in a hanging basket?

Kyle Lauren
Kyle Lauren (@guest_7184)
12 days ago

My husband and I are new to gardening. Since he is recently retired, we thought we’d find a new hobby to enjoy. We went to a local big box store and purchased nine blue balloon flowers to plant as a border next to our carport. It definitely took some work. However, they are doing very well, thus far. We’re pleased. Side note: We have also started container gardening of husky grape tomatoes, zucchini, and carrots. We may have two green thumbs, after all!

Kyle Lauren
Kyle Lauren (@guest_7185)
Reply to  Kyle Lauren
12 days ago

They are growing beautifully!

Sharron
Sharron (@guest_7298)
10 days ago

I have purchased my first balloon plant. It has remained in the pot I purchased it in as I’ve prepared a new perennial garden spot. It has gotten very “leggy” and the 10 stems look like intermingled snakes! I’ve read all the comments and answers but I’m not sure of the timing of pruning in “early spring” or half way through the summer. Is there any way it would be okay to trim these back in mid May in southern NH? Also, how far back should they be pruned? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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