Balloon Flower Growing The Chinese Bellflower

February 27, 2023 0 Comments

The balloon flower is a popular plant. Lush green foliage produces huge five-pointed flowers that open up like stars of puffy, balloon-like buds, and they make the perfect border plant or container garden.

But how can you grow these Asian plants to their full potential? We are going to examine the cultivation of balloon flowers in detail, and when you finish reading, you will know exactly what you need to do to make these wonderful plants thrive.

Balloon Flower Overview

All About Balloon Flower

The balloon flower is native to East Asia, as evidenced by names such as kikyo (Japanese) or doraji (Korean). Also called the Chinese Bellflower, the Japanese Bellflower or the platycodon, the name comes from the balloon-like buds that inflate like small balloons before they open.

These beautiful flowers can grow from six inches to up to three feet tall. Some of the more recently developed cultivars have been bred specifically for their dwarf size, which makes them much easier to plant as an ornamental plant.

This plant produces flowers in mid to after summer. With sapphire, pink, or white balloon flowers that are 2-3 inches wide, they are an excellent attractant for birds or other wildlife. It is such a popular plant that many cultivars have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Caring For Balloon Flower

For the most part, caring for a balloon flower plant is a very simple process. Balloon flowers are very tolerant of many weather conditions and can be grown throughout most of the United States and in many other countries. But what are the best conditions for your plant? Let’s talk about that.

Light & Temperature

Balloon flowers prefer locations with cool summers, but can be grown in warmer conditions if careful attention is paid to the needs of the plants. While in cooler climates it prefers full sun, warmer locations should opt for partial sun conditions.

Platycodons grow easily in growth zones 3-8 in the United States. Balloon flowers are also commonly grown in zone 9, but may have some difficulty in the peak of summer.

Water & Humidity

Watering your balloon flower plants can be a bit tricky. That’s because balloon flowers are very thirsty and need a lot of moisture. However, they do not like waterlogged conditions or waterlogged soil, so you need to be careful.

When growing balloon flowers, the use of soaker hoses for irrigation can be of great benefit to ensure that there is moist soil. The balloon flower has a deep root and doing slow, deep irrigation should keep you from watering too much, while still making sure they have enough for their thirst.


Because of their desire for moist, but not soaked soil, it’s a good idea to have an organically rich soil base when growing balloon flowers. The planting material in the soil retains some moisture while easily draining excess. I recommend choosing a well-draining loamy soil with some compost worked through.

Your balloon flower can also tolerate sandy soils and is often grown in a rock garden environment in parts of its native East Asia. Balloon flowers can also easily grow in containers or as litter/border plants, where the soil conditions are usually very well draining. Rock gardens are also great settings for these purple-sapphire flowers.

Not picky about the acidity of the soil, balloon flowers accept soils ranging from 5.6 to 7.5 pH. aiming for the neutral soil in the middle is usually your easiest bet to make sure it doesn’t get too heavily alkaline or acidic.


In subsequent years, you can scratch some nitrogen fertilizer in the upper parts of the soil surface around your balloon flowers, or add a layer of nitrogen-rich compost around the base of the plants and water it well. It is not a heavy feeder, so avoid over-fertilization.


Balloon flowers are most easily propagated from seed, but can also be propagated by cuttings or by division.

However, I honestly recommend planting balloon flowers from seed. Cuts are extremely slow to develop roots and can fail before the roots ever fully form. Division is troublesome because the root system of platycodon is fragile and prone to wounds.


As I just said, your balloon flowers don’t really like to move once they’re established. The balloon plant develops an extremely long taproot with many fragile tendrils that extend outwards. If possible, initially plant your Chinese bell flower plant in a permanent location.


Most of your pruning tasks for your balloon flower will focus on deadheading used flowers to prevent productive spread of balloon flower seeds. Removing the faded flowers can significantly extend the flowering period, sometimes well into the fall months.

As soon as autumn arrives, you may want to leave Old plant stems of balloon flowers in place all winter. This will help you identify the locations of the plant, as they grow slowly in the spring. As soon as new growth begins, you can cut off the old tall stems and allow the plant to produce new shoots.

Growing Problems

Higher varieties of balloon flowers can begin to flop without adequate support. A ring support or stakes may be needed to maintain an upright position for your balloon flowers. Alternatively, Plum as indicated above to stimulate shorter growth at the time of flowering.

Your platycodon may slowly emerge in the spring. Don’t expect new growth and tall stems to appear immediately as soon as the last day of winter is over, as your plant is still dormant. It may take a few weeks in slightly warmer spring weather before it comes back to life.


Very few pests tend to bother balloon flowers. In fact, the only problems usually come from slugs and snails, which absolutely adore young foliage.

To protect your platycodon plants from the Slug and snail army, you should use an organic bait such as Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait to pull them away from the planting area. You can even make a ring of bait around plants if needed, just to keep damage away!

Although deer can nibble on your plant from time to time, it is generally considered deer resistant. They do not like the taste of anything other than the recent Young leaves. Once the leaves of your plant are mature, the deer will move on.

ailments are not common among Japanese bell flower growers. In fact, the only thing that can be a problem is root rot if your soil is too wet for too long. This is generally not a problem in winter and early spring, but can become a problem during the summer.

Therefore, it is important to make sure that your soil is moist, but not soggy. Use well-draining and organically rich soil that can keep some moisture in to meet your thirsty balloon flower’s drinking needs, but that won’t trap excess water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *