Herb to Know: Balloon Flower


| October/November 1998


• Platycodon grandiflorus
(Plat-ee-KO-don gran-dih-FLOR-uss)
• Family Campanulaceae
• Perennial herb

Large, puffy buds opening to shallow, bell-shaped blossoms make balloon flower a favorite feature of the summer perennial garden. In the Far East, the plant’s fleshy roots have been consumed for their health benefits for more than 2,000 years.

The genus Platycodon (Greek for “broad bell”) contains a single species of herbaceous perennial native to Japan, Korea, northern China, and eastern Siberia. P. grandiflorus (Latin for “large flower”) grows in neat 1-foot-wide clumps. The smooth stems branch near their tops; they bear toothed, ovate green leaves up to 3 inches long, the lower ones arranged in whorls, the upper ones alternately.

Solitary flowers or small clusters bloom in mid- to late summer. Children can seldom resist popping the inflated buds (the “balloons”), which otherwise open into 2-inch upward-facing bells with five pointed petals, yellow-white stamens that are inflated at the base, and five stigmas. In fall, the foliage turns yellow, providing interest in the garden even after plants have stopped blooming.

P. grandiflorus grows about 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall and has blue single flowers, but cultivars are available in other colors, double flowers, and shorter stems. They include ‘Alba’, ‘Fuji Blue’, and ‘Double Blue’, 24 inches tall; ‘Hakone Double Blue’, ‘Hakone Double White’, ‘Mariesii’ (blue), and ‘Mother of Pearl’, 12 to 18 inches tall; ‘Baby Blue’, ‘Sentimental Blue’, ‘Apoyama Fairy Snow’, and ‘Apoyama Misato Purple’, 6 to 8 inches tall. ‘Komachi’, 16 inches, has dark blue buds that never open.

The taller forms may be placed in the middle of the flower bed, the shorter ones at the front. The smallest forms, which nevertheless have full-sized flowers, may be grown in containers and are often found in rock gardens. All thrive in Zones 3 to 10 except in southern Florida and along the Gulf Coast.





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265