Platycodon

Platycodon flowers

Attractive, hardy herbaceous border perennials with large angular balloon-shaped buds that burst open into star-faced flowers.

Family: Campanulaceae
Botanical Name: Platycodon (pla-tee-ko-don)
Common Names: Balloon flower, Chinese bellflower.

Foliage: Deciduous, simple ovate, toothed mid green leaves.

Flowers: Round balloon-shaped buds burst into open cup-shaped flowers, with five pointed false petals. Shades of white, pink or blue.

Flowering Period: Summer to early autumn (June to September).

Soil: Moist but well-drained loam. Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Compact, clump forming.

Type: Herbaceous perennial.

Origin: China and Japan.

Hardiness: Reasonably hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Platycodon

Grow in full sun in a deep, well-drained loam. Plant in the spring, setting the plants 14in (35cm) apart each way.

Avoid badly drained wet soil during the cold winter months. If your soil is heavy incorporate plenty of sharp sand or grit and organic matter or grow in a raised bed.

Suitable for borders, containers and rock gardens.

Taking Care of Platycodon

Provide plant support in exposed conditions. Top dress with a general fertiliser in spring and mulch with well-rotted garden compost.

Pruning Platycodon

Cut plants down to ground level in late autumn.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by slugs and snails.

Propagating Platycodon

Sow seeds in spring in an unheated greenhouse or frame, or in a sheltered position outdoors. Plant out in final flowering positions as soon as they can be handled.

Divide established clumps in spring. The brittle roots dislike disturbance so lift and replant carefully.

Popular Varieties of Platycodon

The only garden worthy variety is P. grandiflorus.

Platycodon grandiflorus bears inflated balloon-like buds that open to blue or white stars. Height 2ft (60cm), spread 1.5ft (45cm). Varieties include:

  • 'Album' white flowers.
  • 'Fuji Blue' a free flowering variety with star-shaped, deep blue flowers. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
  • 'Fuji Pink' a free flowering form with pink flowers.
  • 'Mariesii' a compact form with deep blue flowers.
  • 'Mother of Pearl' pink flowers.