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How to Grow Platycodon Plants

Guide to Growing Balloon Flower / Bellflowers

The Platycodon contains one species, and this is a commonly grown garden plant.

It goes by the common names of Balloon Flower or Bellflower.

Platycodon grandiflorus
Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon flower) by Carl E Lewis.

The plant is a hardy perennial. Platycodon plant stalks can reach 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) in height.

Platycodon flowers in the summer with white, blue, or purple bell shaped flowers.

Commonly Grown Platycodon Species Photographs and Plant Identification

Only one species in Genus, but numerous varieties and cultivars available.

Platycodon grandiflorus

Sometimes referred to as Platycodon grandiflorum

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Platycodon grandiflorus
Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon flower / Chinese Bellflower), photograph by manuel m. v.; CC.

Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Fuji blue’

Platycodon grandiflorus Fuji blue
Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon flower Fuji Blue cultivar), photograph by Paul VanDerWerf; CC.

Platycodon grandiflorus white

Platycodon grandiflorus white
White Platycodon grandiflorus (White Chinese Bellflower), picture by Udo Schröter; CC.

Platycodon Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Balloon flower, Bellflower (Korean, Japanese, Chinese).
  • Genus Information: Contains just one species: Platycodon grandiflorus.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 12 to 24 inches (30—60 cm).
  • Native: : East Asia.

  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9.
  • Flowers: Summer.
  • Flower Details: Blue, white, pink, purple. Fused petals. Bell-shaped. Up-turned. Carried on arching stems.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Dark green.

  • Sow Outside: Surface. Spring or summer.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: two to four weeks in the light. Temperature: 70°F (21°C). Use peat pots as seedlings are delicate. Start seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors towards the end of spring. Spacing 10 to 18 inches (25—45 cm).

  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Rich soil, moist soil. Regular watering. Occasional light feed. Deadhead to prolong blooming season. Propagate: by taking cuttings in the summer. Plants can also be propagated by dividing in the spring in cooler areas, or the autumn in warmer areas; this is not recommended as Platycodon grandiflorus is a very delicate plant and is slow to recover from any disturbance.

  • Family: Campanulaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Lobelia plants and Bellflowers
  • Miscellaneous: Flower buds swell up before opening, hence the common name of Balloon flower. Roots are used in Korean culinary, and also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat coughs and for anti-inflammatory purposes. One of the seven traditional Japanese autumn flowers.

How to Grow Balloon Flower

The seeds of Balloon flowers (Platycodon) should be sown on the soil surface. This can be done in either spring or summer.

They have a preference for a rich and moist soil. ideally Platycodon likes to grow in sunny or partially shaded areas of the garden. It is important that the location has good drainage.

If starting off indoors, do so about 7 or 8 weeks in advance. It should take seeds about two to four weeks to germinate at 20 degrees Celsius (68°F).

The seedlings should be transplanted with great care into the garden at the end of spring. Space at about 25 cm to 75 cm (10 to 30 inches) apart, depending upon the size of the Platycodon variety.

Caring for Platycodon

It is quite easy to care for Platycodon. They like a moist soil so keep well watered, and dead head the flowers to extend the period in which they bloom.

As they are very delicate plants it may be wise to carefully stake larger varieties.

It is best to propagate plants by taking cuttings in the spring or growing from seeds. Although the plants can be propagated by division, this can often damage the plant.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Platycodon plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Lobelia; Gilia and Campanula plants.