Balloon Vine Plant In Gardens: Tips For Growing Love In A Puff Vine

Balloon Vine Plant In Gardens: Tips For Growing Love In A Puff Vine

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Love in a puff plant is a tropical to sub-tropical vine with tiny white flowers and green papery fruits that are similar to tomatillos. Unfortunately, in southern landscapes it has become a nuisance plant, escaping cultivation and taking over the local flora. If you have a long growing season, though, try love in a puff balloon vine as an annual plant with architectural interest and whimsical fruits.

About Love in a Puff Balloon Vine

Love in a puff vine is so named because of the seeds inside the papery fruits. If you squeeze the fruits, which have 3 interior chambers, three seeds erupt through the membranes. The seeds have a distinct shape of a white heart etched onto a dark round form. The heart leads to the common name. The botanical name, Cardiospermum halicacabum, indicates the form as well. In Latin, ‘cardio’ means heart and ‘sperma’ means seed. Another name is balloon vine plant because of the green suspended fruiting globes.

This member of the Soapberry family captures the imagination with the strange and wonderful fruit and the surprise seedy sentiment. The leaves are deeply divided and toothed, and quite lacy overall. The small flowers appear July through August and have 4 sepals, 4 petals and yellow stamen. The fruit looks like a blown up paper balloon in shades of green with blushed tops at the pedicel. Interestingly, the vine provides the main ingredient for a substitute for cortisone.

Balloon vine plant is often confused with some species of clematis because of the compound lance-shaped leaves and frilly tendrils on the stems. These tendrils anchor the plant as it grows vertically and help the vine move over obstacles. The vine is native to tropical America but grows well in summer in much of the United States. Northern gardeners growing love in a puff can use it as a fast-growing annual, while southern gardeners can use it year round.

How to Grow Love in a Puff Vine

Fast growing vines like love in a puff plant are great for covering up those areas in the landscape that are not so tidy. Love in a puff vine forms a thick mat useful for covering up that fallen fence that you never got around to mending or the overgrown weeds in the back of the yard. Its tenacity can be a problem in some regions and care should be exercised not to let the plant escape into nature.

Love in a puff balloon vine needs full sun in well-drained soil. It is a useful annual in United States Department of Agriculture zones 8 to 11. In the lower zones, it performs as an annual. Sow seed indoors in late winter to early spring and plant outdoors after hardening off the seedlings when all danger of frost has passed.

Water the plant deeply and then allow it to dry between waterings once established. Growing love in a puff may need a little help as the plant begins to scrabble up your chosen support, but once the plant produces numerous stems, they twine together and create a scaffold of their own.

Allow the fruits to dry completely on the vine before harvesting them for seed. This is a fun plant that will liven up the landscape with the quirky little lanterns decorating your yard.

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Love In A Puff Plant Info - Managing Love In A Puff Balloon Vine - garden

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Love In A Puff Plant Info - Managing Love In A Puff Balloon Vine - garden

Family Sapindaceae (Soapberry)
Genus Species Cardiospermum halicacabum
Common Names Balloon Vine, Love-in-a-puff, Heart pea, Heartseed
Names Comments
Names Notes
Duration annuals in USDA zones 5-8 and are perennial in zones 9-11
Habit A woody perennial vine, climbs with tendrils, up to twenty feet long.
Size up to 10 feet
Leaves Leaves are trifoliate, up to 4 inches long, with highly lobed leaflets
Leaf Retention
Flowers small flowers
Flower Colors white
Bloom Time Spring, Summer, Fall
Fruit thin-shelled, inflated angled capsule up to 3 cm across, containing 3 black seeds each, with a white heart-shaped scar
Thorns or Spines
Stems and Trunk
Similar To
Description Comments
Description Notes
County Cameron, Hidalgo
USDA Profile caha13
USDA Hardy Zone
Native to Area Introduced
RGV Sightings
On Display
Location Comments
Location Notes Resaca de la Palma State Park
Water Requirement
Light Requirement
Soil Moisture
Soil Type
Propagation Comments Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 3 - 4 weeks at 20°c [138] . When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Propagation Notes
Uses Comments
Legal Notes
Folk Wisdom
Edible Leaves and young shoots - cooked. Used as a spinach.
Symbolism or Ceremonial
Utility Comments
Utility Notes
Domestic Animal Comments
Domestic Animal Notes
Small Mammals
Wildlife Notes
Wildlife Comments
Field Notes
References [22] The Jammu and Kashmir medicinal Plants Introduction Centre "Ginkgo House" Nambalbal, New Coloney Azizabad,

[218] Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China

[240] Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants

[243] Medicinal Plants of Nepal

Family: Sapindaceae (Soapberry)
Genus Species: Cardiospermum halicacabum
Common Names: Balloon Vine, Love-in-a-puff, Heart pea, Heartseed

Love in a Puff

Product Description

Love in a Puff
Cardiospermum halicacabum

Few things rival the delicate beauty of a fully blooming Love in a Puff vine. The long, ferny-leaved vines are loaded with tiny white blossoms and the most interesting green, balloon-like pods that resemble miniature paper lanterns. What is even more magical is that inside each balloon are tiny black seeds imprinted with perfect white hearts. These vigorous growers will scramble up and over a trellis in no time. Woven into an arrangement, this beauty will take any creation to a whole new level.

Plant type: annual
Height: 6-10 feet
Site: full sun
Days to maturity: 120 days
Plant spacing: 6-12”
Pinch: not necessary
Approx seeds per packet: 15

How to Grow:
Start seed indoors in pots 8-10 weeks before last frost transplant out after all danger of frost has passed. Love in a Puff is very sensitive to cold wait until weather has warmed to plant out. Provide a strong trellis or support for vines to climb.

Harvesting/Vase Life:
Cut foliage is prone to wilting in the heat, so harvest during the coolest part of the day and place directly into water to rest for a few hours before arranging. Choose stems that have firmed up and are covered in little green lanterns. Stems will last a good week in the vase if flower preservative is used.

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How to Grow

How to Start Flowers from Seed

There's nothing more rewarding than starting your own seeds. The benefits include getting a jump on the season, having access to hundreds of specialty varieties that you won’t find at your local nurseries or garden.

Fabulous Foliages and Fillers

Having a steady supply of foliage is key to successfully making bouquets throughout the season—in spring, during the long months of summer, and into early fall. In this post, I’ll share the best staple foliages.

If growing Love-in-a-Mist in a pot, you can start it indoors four to six weeks before you're ready to put the plant outside. However, it doesn't transplant well because of its long taproot, so avoid repotting whenever possible.

Cutting flowers for bouquets and deadheading will keep your plants flowering a bit longer, but you'll sacrifice the fascinating seed pods. Love-in-a-Mist easily self-sows, so you can thin the seedlings to prevent overcrowding. Harvest for bouquets when flower buds have fully colored or pods have begun to develop.

The Blooming Farmhouse

Love in a Puff, also known as Balloon Vine or Heartseed, is an annual vine that carries seed in ‘puffs’ and looks great in arrangements. The vine can be grown on a trellis but I just had mine out in the flower field this year and it did fine. You can see it here in one of my favorite arrangements from this year. It’s very delicate and whimsical. It adds an light-airy feel to any bouquet. I purchased my seeds from Floret Flowers in the spring but will be saving my own seed going forward.

You can save Love in a Puff seed by waiting for the balloons or puffs to turn brown. Each puff will have three seeds inside, all with a white heart on them (hence ‘love’).

Would you like some free Love in a Puff seed? If you share my blog with a gardening friend, and email me that you did, I will mail you some Love in a Puff seed. First come, first serve as I have a limited amount of seed.

Just email me at [email protected] how many of your friends/family you shared my blog with, your mailing address and that you want some free Love in a Puff seed. I will send you 10 seeds each. First come, first serve. Limited to the United States.

Please note: Love in a Puff can be invasive in the southern states if you let it get out of control. It is a Zone 8-10. Please be careful!

Balloon plant or Love in a puff


When I said that were the size of an apple I was thinking of small apples that gives the apple tree in my garden and not the size of apples that are available in the supermarket.

Species ID Suggestions


The distinctive seeds are a very good way to identify this plant -- did you see the seeds or can you find the plant again? Easy to grow in your own garden from seed.

Thank you Susi for the ID. When I said that were the size of an apple I was thinking of small apples that gives the apple tree in my garden and not the size of apples that are available in the supermarket.

Sorry Luis, I'm using your spotting to communicate with my sister-in-law about project noah :D

Ok thank you Ava, but I´m not shure what you mean.

Susi T-B -- They've fixed the bug that was annoying you. It's easy now to go back and forth between unidentified organisms and the ones you can identify. Give it a try!

If this is Cardiospermum halicacabum it has small white flowers, followed by these wonderful inflated seedpods. A scrambling vine to about 10 feet tall. It is an annual, but can re-seed. Very pretty. The ones I've grown had seedpods about 1-1/2" wide, much smaller than an apple.

Watch the video: ಅಗನ ಬಳಳ, Cardiospermum Halicacabum, Balloon Vine, Heart Seed,