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Platycodon, commonly known as the Balloon Flower, is a charming and somewhat underrated star in the world of gardening. Its unique balloon-shaped buds that burst into beautiful starry flowers make it a delightful addition to any garden. As a gardener, you might be looking for something a little different, a plant that’s not only gorgeous but also tells a story. Platycodon is just that – a plant with character and beauty, perfect for adding a touch of whimsy to your green space.

How to grow Platycodon

To grow Platycodon, plant in well-drained soil with full sunlight. Water moderately, allowing the soil to partially dry. This hardy perennial thrives in the UK climate, producing unique balloon-like flowers that add charm to your garden with minimal care.

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Getting to Know Platycodon

Getting to Know Platycodon

Botanical Profile

  • Family: Campanulaceae
  • Common Names: Balloon Flower, Chinese Bellflower
  • Foliage: Deciduous, ovate, toothed mid-green leaves
  • Flowers: Balloon-shaped buds opening to star-faced flowers in white, pink, or blue
  • Flowering Period: Summer to early autumn (June to September)
  • Soil: Moist but well-drained loam
  • Conditions: Full sun or partial shade
  • Habit: Compact, clump-forming
  • Origin: China and Japan
  • Hardiness: Reasonably hardy in the UK

Planting Platycodon

Choosing the Right Spot

  • Location: East, west, or south-facing aspect
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade for optimal growth
  • Soil: Deep, well-drained loam

Planting Process

  • Timing: Plant in spring.
  • Spacing: Set plants 14 inches (35 cm) apart.
  • Soil Preparation: For heavy soil, incorporate sharp sand or grit and organic matter.
  • Planting Depth: Ensure the rootball is level with the soil surface.

Table: Ideal Planting Conditions

Aspect Sunlight Soil Type Planting Depth Spacing
East/West/South Full Sun/Partial Shade Well-drained Loam Level with rootball 14 inches (35 cm)

Caring for Your Platycodon

Watering and Feeding

  • Watering: Regular but not excessive.
  • Feeding: Top dress with a general fertilizer in spring.

Support and Mulching

  • Support: Provide stakes in exposed conditions.
  • Mulching: Use well-rotted garden compost for moisture retention and weed control.


  • When: Late autumn.
  • Method: Cut plants down to ground level.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

  • Common Issues: Slugs, snails, and root disturbance.
  • Prevention: Regular checks and gentle handling during planting and maintenance.

Propagating Platycodon

Propagating Platycodon

Through Seeds

  • When: Sow in spring.
  • Method: In an unheated greenhouse or outdoors in a sheltered spot.

Through Division

  • When: Spring.
  • Note: Handle the brittle roots carefully to avoid damage.

Varieties of Platycodon

Platycodon Grandiflorus

  • Description: Inflated balloon-like buds opening to blue or white stars.
  • Height: 2 feet (60 cm), Spread: 1.5 feet (45 cm).

Popular Varieties

  • ‘Album’: White flowers.
  • ‘Fuji Blue’: Deep blue star-shaped flowers.
  • ‘Fuji Pink’: Pink flowers.
  • ‘Mariesii’: Compact form with deep blue flowers.
  • ‘Mother of Pearl’: Pink flowers.

Why Platycodon?

As a gardener, you’re likely looking for plants that are not only visually appealing but also easy to care for and versatile. Platycodon ticks all these boxes. Its unique appearance, with balloon-like buds and star-shaped flowers, adds an element of surprise and delight to any garden. Whether you’re creating a border, filling a container, or adding to a rock garden, Platycodon brings a touch of the extraordinary.

Advanced Care for Platycodon

Optimizing Growth Conditions

  • Sunlight: Ensure adequate sunlight to prevent legginess.
  • Soil: Avoid waterlogged conditions to prevent root rot.

Table: Optimal Growing Conditions

Sunlight Needs Soil Type Watering Frequency Feeding Schedule
Full Sun/Partial Shade Well-drained Regular, not excessive Spring (General Fertilizer)

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Pests: Protect young foliage from slugs and snails.
  • Diseases: Watch out for signs of root rot in heavy soils.

Staking Taller Varieties

Staking Taller Varieties

  • Method: Use garden stakes for support.
  • Alternative: Trim stems in spring to control height.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Water regularly but ensure the soil is not waterlogged. Platycodon prefers moist but well-drained soil.

Absolutely! Just ensure the container has good drainage and use a well-drained potting mix.

Prune in late autumn, cutting the plants down to ground level.

Propagate by sowing seeds in spring or by dividing established clumps, taking care not to damage the brittle roots.

Slugs and snails can be a problem, especially for young plants in spring. Regular checks and preventive measures are recommended.

Platycodon in Your Garden: Beyond the Basics

Creating Stunning Combinations

  • Companion Plants: Pair with other perennials like Lavender or Salvia for a vibrant display.
  • Design Ideas: Use Platycodon in cottage gardens, borders, or as a focal point in container arrangements.

Table: Companion Planting Ideas

Platycodon Variety Companion Plant Garden Style
‘Fuji Blue’ Lavender Cottage Garden
‘Album’ Salvia Border Display
‘Mariesii’ Ornamental Grasses Modern Garden

Seasonal Care Tips

  • Spring: Check for slug and snail activity.
  • Summer: Regular watering during dry spells.
  • Autumn: Pruning and preparing for winter.