The balloon plant is a popular favorite perennial for gardeners in USDA zones 3 through 9. It is available in a dwarf size, but most gardeners prefer the true balloon plant, which can grow to 2 1/2 feet. Balloon plant flowers are pink, blue or white and will begin to bloom by mid-summer and continue into the fall, particularly and prolifically if you deadhead spent blooms and do not allow the plant to develop seed pods.
Use small scissors to clip the dead flowers from the stems of your balloon flower plant.
Clip the spent flower directly under the bloom. New buds are developing right below the dead balloon flower, so you do not want to clip off any of the stem. Cutting off the stem of your balloon plant will be cutting off the new blossoms.
Dip your scissor tips into some rubbing alcohol after you clip off the deadhead to clean off the sticky sap of the plant and keep your scissors sharp.
Toward the end of the flowering season, you may wish to allow some of the dead flowers on your balloon plant to form seed pods so you can plant or save the seeds.
Water the balloon flowers after the blossoms have faded. They need 1 inch of rain each week, depending upon the rain.
Prune the spent flower stems to the ground. Missouri Botanical Garden explains that, “new season plant stems emerge late in spring, so gardeners must be careful not to damage crowns by early cultivation.” Leave 1 to 2 inches of growth visible, or use plant markers to indicate the location of the balloon flowers.
Cover the planting site with mulch or well-rotted compost. You can also rake decaying leaves over the balloon flowers. This will enrich the soil and keep it moist and warm through the winter months.
Select a site in the flower garden for the balloon flowers. They grow in either full sunlight or dappled sunlight with well-drained soil. Balloon flowers need room to grow; a mature plant is two feet tall by two feet wide. Since they are compact and slow spreading, choose a spot where they can remain for several years.
Dig a hole that is deeper than the root system. Mix compost or organic matter into the removed soil. Place a little of this mixture to the bottom of the hole and put the plant in; add the remaining soil around the plant and carefully tamp it down to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.
Water the balloon flowers daily for two weeks, until the flower is established in the garden and new growth appears. After that, water the bedding plants regularly, especially during dry spells in the spring and summer.
Apply a complete plant food once new growth appears. Slugs can be a major problem and will devour new growth. These can be picked off by hand or treated chemically.
Cut spent flower stems back to the ground and cut the entire plant to the ground after the blooming season in mid fall. Due to their late blooming habits, it's a good idea to mark the location of the flower in the garden. That way, they won't be mistaken for a weed the next year and accidentally pulled out of the garden.