Balloon flower

The balloon flower, which is also called the Chinese bellflower, takes its name from the blooming flower buds before they open. The whole appearance is like a balloon, flower after flower. Unfortunately there is only one species with several different breeds. Balloon flowers reach heights of 20 to 80 cm, depending on the species, and form tap roots. The striking petals are usually blue, but can also be white or pink. The flowering time is in midsummer, sometimes a little later. The balloon flower is originally native to Northeast Asia, i.e. China, Eastern Siberia, Korea and Japan.

If you buy blooming balloon flowers in stores, they are usually quite low. However, once planted, they will get higher in the garden year after year. This has the advantage that more and more flowers appear, but you often notice too late that you have planted them too far in front of the bed and that they actually belong further back. As a precaution, if you have an exact name tag on the pot, you should look it up again to find out the height of the stem. If you want to buy specifically, you will find a large selection on the Internet. There are significantly more species on offer than can be found in normal trade (with the exception of perennial nurseries).

With us, the balloon flower is a purely ornamental plant. In China and Korea, the bitter-tasting root, reminiscent of a small turnip, is prepared in various ways and eaten for immune stimulation and for cancer. The anti-inflammatory effect has also been proven.

Caring for the balloon flower

Caring for the balloon flower

The balloon flower is a perennial. As such, it grows slowly and does not expand much. Balloon flowers are hardy down to –15 ° C, so they should survive most winters. You plant them in a place where they can stay for years, they don’t particularly like to be repositioned more often. The plants are quite frugal and do not need a lot of care.


Mostly it is said that the balloon flower thrives best in partial shade. I cannot confirm that. Blue flowering species like the sun very much and stand in rock gardens around here, in the blazing sun. White flowering species turn purple when exposed to too much sun. Pink flowers also change sometimes.

  • Sunny, partially sunny to partially shaded location
  • Blue varieties do better in the sun, white and pink ones do better in partial shade.
  • Since balloon flowers like a stony ground, they are in the right place in the rock garden. However, you should choose species that remain small and do not grow taller than 20 to 25 cm.

Plant substrate

When it comes to the plant substrate, it is important that it is rich in nutrients and not too dry. Otherwise, balloon flowers are not particularly picky about the soil. If it is quite dry, more needs to be poured. These plants cope better with drought than with waterlogging.

  • Well-drained soil
  • Nutrient-rich, humus-rich and somewhat moist soil
  • It is beneficial to enrich it with organic fertilizer
  • Cope well with chalky soils.


Planting is not difficult. Potted specimens are simply planted in the appropriate location in the garden, as deep as they were in the pot. It is important to put the plant and the pot in water beforehand so that the root ball can soak up properly. You must also water well after the planting campaign!

  • Plant spacing 30 cm
  • Pay attention to the size. Better to put higher species in the background!
  • Joint flowers, sage, daisies or ragwort are good companion plants
  • If necessary, support tall species so that the stalks do not break.

Watering and fertilizing

How often it has to be watered depends on the location and the plant substrate. It takes some instinct.

  • Soil shouldn’t dry out, so water it regularly!
  • Watering directly after planting is particularly important. It should be watered daily until the balloon flower has grown!
  • Avoid waterlogging at all costs! Root rot kills the plant and it does it very quickly.
  • Use complete fertilizer when budding begins in late spring
  • More fertilization is not necessary
  • In autumn, after the cut, a layer of compost on the perennial will look good. So she gets through the winter safely.

To cut

Experts advise cutting, annually, at the end of the growing season. However, you don’t have to cut. The best thing to do is to try out what is best for the plant. The shoots die off in winter anyway. The plant sprouts again from below.

  • Remove what has faded
  • If you pinch off the withered flowers, you can extend the flowering for weeks. The plant then puts its strength into new flowers and not into the formation of seeds.
  • Cut down to the ground at the end of the growing season!


You can read various things about wintering. Some predict a winter hardiness of – 15 ° C, others report experience that the plants survive even the harshest winters well. I think it’s less the cold that kills balloon flowers in winter than the constant wetness. So you don’t go wrong if you spread brushwood on the cut down plants in late autumn, nice and generous. This keeps out too much moisture and also protects against permafrost.

  • Very young plants need winter protection to be on the safe side.
  • They should be covered with sticks.
  • Older plants are reliably hardy.
  • In very rough locations you can’t go wrong if you also protect the older plants a little.

balloon flower as houseplant

The balloon flower as a houseplant

The balloon flower is also often offered as a houseplant. It lasts for some time and is unsuitable for it in the long run. It needs a sunny to partially shaded place, without direct midday sun. Better shade than bright sun, because it lives much longer. The soil should be kept evenly moist as in the field. Waterlogging must be avoided at all costs! The earth must not dry out between watering!


The balloon flower can be propagated quite easily. You can sow them. The seeds are harvested in autumn when the seed pods slowly open. Of course you can also buy seeds in stores, there is a good selection.

  • Propagation by dividing the rhizome
  • Divide about every four years so that it will not bloom.
  • Do not share young plants! Only after four years at the earliest!
  • Sowing is also possible.
  • Place seeds on the ground and press only lightly, light germs.
  • Always keep potting soil slightly moist, never wet!
  • Place the vessel in a light, but not sunny position.
  • If sown early, the young plants will still bloom in the first year.

Balloon flower Diseases and pests

Diseases and pests

The greatest danger to balloon flowers are snails. They love the young plants and eat them absolutely bare. There is nothing left. The plants have no chance of survival.

  • Individual plants can be protected with snail collars, and beds with snail fences.
  • Alternative – slug pellets, preferably organic slug pellets, because it does not endanger other living beings.
  • Bioschenckenkorn works through iron-III-phosphate.
  • The ideal is to collect. It is best to lure snails with their favorite food, fresh salad and collect them.
  • Otherwise the balloon flowers are hardly threatened by diseases and pests.
Tip:  In spring, care should be taken to ensure that the young shoots that appear late are not accidentally uprooted with the weeds! It is best to mark the spot in autumn with a stick or a sign.

Particularly beautiful varieties

Balloon flower beautiful varieties

  • Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Apoyama’ – white flower with contrasting blue veins, about 25 cm high
  • Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Astra Pink’, – white flower with pink shades, about 25 cm high
  • Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Blauer Zwerg’ – blue single flower, plant only gets about 10 cm high, ideal for rock gardens
  • Platycodon grandiflorus F’uji Blue’– blue single flower with dark blue veins running through it, becomes about 40 cm high
  • Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Fuji Pink’ – soft pink flower with deep red veins, about 50 cm high
  • Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Fuji White’ – pure white variety, up to 40 cm high
  • Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Astra Semi-double Blue’ – double or double flower, blue with dark blue veins, 20 to 25 cm high

The balloon flower is a very beautiful plant and a good alternative to normal bluebells. Above all, they are very healthy plants that are hardly threatened by diseases and pests. Only snails are dead, you have to be careful. Otherwise, balloon flowers are easy to care for and undemanding and develop more and more in width and often in height every year. There are beautiful species that are unfortunately rarely available in stores. But you can browse the Internet a little and try out other colors or markings. I will definitely order a few plants, I got a taste for them while researching.

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