If you're transplanting balloon flowers, known botanically as platycodon, you may already know that the plant likes sun and well-drained soil and is long-lived, but slow to emerge in spring. Perhaps these needs are not being met in the current location or the plant is simply too tall where it is and you've decided to move it.
What you may not know is that balloon flower is one of several perennials with a taproot and such plants are not fond of being moved once established. If you have to, it is best to transplant them in spring.
Transplanting Balloon Flowers
Water the plant well the day before. Place shovel along the drip line, which is as far out as the leaves go. If the plant is dormant, move several inches away from the center, erring on the generous side, and dig down carefully, avoiding taproot.
Lift plant, with as much soil clinging to it as possible, and place it carefully (on its side to protect roots) on plastic bag, so as to keep loose soil handy for transplanting. Keep plant out of direct sun and in a cool place.
Dig new hole if you have not done so already, making it several inches wider beyond the edge of the plant around its circumference and about several inches deeper than the bottom roots of the lifted plant. Put several handfuls of planting mix in hole and mix with existing soil and soil from original location. Water.
Carefully transport plant to new location and lift carefully into hole. Fill in with soil, tamping it down all around plant, careful not to make soil too compacted. Make sure crown (just above where the taproot begins) is not planted too deeply but is also not showing above the soil.
Check plant depth and adjust if needed, again being careful not to disturb the plant too much. Water well.
Things You Will Need
- Plastic bag
- Container of water
- Planting mix that has organic matter
- Be patient if your balloon flower looks a little less vigorous after transplanting; give it time to recover.
- You may have noticed that established plants, especially in bloom, often have stems that flop, so staking is usually needed. Tracy DiSabato-Aust, in her book, "The Well-Tended Perennial Garden," has another suggestion: pruning the plant halfway a month before blooming. Plants will bloom later and will be shorter, but the flopping problem will be solved.
- New cultivars are much shorter. Platycodon g. 'Sentimental Blue' is 6-8 inches, and Platycodon g. Astra Blue is 8-10 inches, according to Walter's Gardens online plant directory.
- Keep plant watered after transplanting but do not over-water, as balloon flowers are susceptible to root rot.
- Balloon flower's new location should not retain water.
- Transplant on a cool, overcast day to minimize stress on the plant.
- Don't rush to do the job; take your time.