Platycodon grandiflorus, the balloon flower

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A potpourri (below) of Platycodon information as a supplement to other articles.

A plant-based page rather than our usual topic-based page. It's a pivot point where you'll find one set of links to ours and others' articles that involve balloon flowers. (Go to the links now!)

Balloon flower potpourri

Platycodon species provide some of the very best midsummer blues to sunny perennial beds. Platycodon grandiflorus is the classic balloon flower. Although there are varieties that are pink and white we say, "Go for the blue."

Some references say this plant is suitable for partly shaded beds. We disagree. Full sun or nothing.

It's particularly nice among yellow clump forming daylilies.

The species is about 36" tall, but the variety 'Marie's Strain' is half that and 'Sentimental Blue' is usually under 12".

The full-sized and half-height plants sometimes require staking.

Platycodon requires excellent drainage. The root is like a white carrot, must sit deep for stability, and must rest nearly dry through winter to avoid crown rot.

Our kids loved balloon flower for the buds, shaped like hot air balloons and as poppable as a balloon when swollen before opening. Popping the buds doesn't stop the flowering but does leave individual blooms in some disarray, with one or more petals awry and the flower's overall symmetry lost. However, we think it's a worthy trade -- a little less visual perfection in exchange for kids' participation and memories.

Right: Diety Love, age 4,  popping balloon flower buds

Read more about Platycodon:

Design:
     Double up with Camassia in place of bored iris: Growing Concerns 59

Maintenance:
     Dividing:
           Read the root to divide

     Cutting back:
          Need to cut back in fall?

We're just introducing this set of perennial info pages. We hope you'll comment. Let us know if the format was useful, share your suggestions, tell us we shouldn't have this page at all... anything helps!

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