Balloon flowers can be blue, white or pink in color.
image by Carl E Lewis/Flickr.com
The balloon flower, a perennial flowering plant, is the only species in the genus Platycodon. It is native to eastern Asia and produces flowers that are usually blue but also can be white or pink. The flowers are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and bloom during summer. Prior to blooming, the buds of the balloon flower swell up, similar to an inflated balloon, and will pop if squeezed. This is an extremely low-care flower that can usually survive for long periods of time without any attention.
Plant balloon flower seeds 1 to 2 inches deep during the spring in a location that receives full sunlight. Ensure the soil is fertile and does not allow any standing water to accumulate after heavy rains or watering.
Water balloon flower three times a week before it emerges from the soil. Reduce watering to once a week during the growing season on weeks that receive no substantial rainfall. Do not water balloon flower during the winter.
Spread a 1-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding the balloon flower in late fall to insulate the soil and prevent constant freezing and thawing cycles. Remove the mulch in early spring to allow plenty of room for new growth.
Feed balloon flowers once per year in the spring using a high-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer. This will provide a consistent supply of nutrients to the plant over the course of the growing season, and the increased nitrogen will encourage more blooms.
Remove any dying blossoms to encourage the plant to spend more nutrients on forming new flowers instead of producing seeds. Pinch any growing tips longer than 12 inches in length to make the plant grow thicker instead of taller.