Balloon Flower Propagation: Tips For Seed Growing And Dividing Balloon Flower Plants
By: Anne Baley
Balloon flower is such a solid performer in the garden that most gardeners eventually want to propagate the plant to create more of them for their yard. Like most perennials, propagating balloon flowers can be done in more than one way. Let’s learn more about balloon flower propagation.
Create new balloon flower plants by dividing existing mature plants, or by collecting the seeds in the fall and planting them the next spring. Using balloon flower seeds is very simple to do, but dividing the plants can be a bit trickier.
Balloon Flower Seeds
Balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) are named because their bloom starts out looking like a purple, white or blue balloon, then it pops open to a wide bloom. After the bloom dies off, you’ll see a brown pod at the end of the stem. Wait until the stem and pod dry out completely, then snap the stem and place the pod into a paper bag. Once you break open the pods, you’ll find hundreds of tiny brown seeds that look like miniature grains of brown rice.
Plant the balloon flower seeds in the spring when all chance of frost has passed. Choose a site that gets full sun to slight partial shade, and dig a 3-inch (7.6 cm.) layer of compost into the soil. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and water them.
You’ll see sprouts within two weeks. Keep the ground moist around the new sprouts. In most cases, you’ll get flowers in the first year you plant them.
Dividing Balloon Flower Plants
Balloon flower propagation can also be done by dividing the plants. Dividing balloon flower can be a bit tricky because it has a very long taproot and doesn’t like being disturbed. If you want to try it, though, choose the best, healthiest plant you have.
Divide it in the spring when the plant is only about 6 inches (15 cm.) tall. Dig around the plant at least 12 inches (30.48 cm.) away from the main clump, to allow the least disturbance to the main roots. Slice the clump in half and move both halves to their new spots, keeping the roots moist until you bury them.
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Balloon Flower - How to Save Seeds?
How do I save the seeds from my Balloon Flower - The part where the seeds are never seems to get brown - Am I looking in the wrong place or just not giving it enough time?
I'm waiting anxiously for a reply to this too, as I have some new balloon flower plants that I just got that have little seed looking things on them, but they are still green.
Maybe one of the seed saving pros will come along and rescue us. LOL!
I hope so, I really want to save seed from this, but the part under the flower just doesn't want to turn brown and I don't have any idea what to do!
The pod keeps its green color.
At this time of the season I take a lower pod and open it.
If the seeds are completely black, then they are ripe.
There should be a lot of seeds in each pod, so carefully
search all of the crevices in the pod for seeds.
I collect the pods once the blossoms shrivel up, then I place them in an open container to dry. Once dried, you can cut the top of the pod off, & a gentle squeeze will release the seeds. I don't know if they require stratification, but my seeds are stored in an unheated garage for the winter. Surface sow, or cover with a thin layer of peat moss to germinate.
I have grown Balloons from seed for years - they germinate well. By the way - if you cut back the plant to collect the pods, it usually creates a second flush of blossoms. This is a very carefree & rewarding flower!
Thank you Julie and taramark. I will check mine again today. I need to find out what the plant looks like prior to bloom so I make sure I'm not snipping off pre-blooms instead.
So much to learn, so many people here to help out. DG is just an awesome place with terrific people!
The blossoms look just like little balloons before they open up! They are soft & poofy. Once the blossom is finished, the pod will be hard, with some of the dead flower still on the end of the pod. Not all of the pods will have viable seeds - some pods will rot, & the seeds within are thin & mushy. I know that leaving the pod on the plant for a while seems to help. But there will be no shortage of seeds with this plant!
Yippee! I have seeds :) And you are right JRush, there's a ton of them in there. They are kind of small, and brown. Look kind of like sesame seeds, but smaller :)
I sure got my money's worth on these plants - I got them for a dollar this weekend at Lowe's, and now I have about 50 seeds to boot. Plus more seed pods.
I'm loving this seed saving thing. But I must find a place to do it. the dinner table is getting kind of messy. LOL.
Thanks to all for your helpfulness :)
This year I see many seeds with transparent edges.
Does anyone know what causes this?
I was wondering the same thing - some of my pods still had green seeds put the one I left on the plant and let it swell for about a week gave me the brown seeds and a few seeds that still had the transparent edges around them. I'm not sure if they are viable or not?? Anyone know?
JRush, I finally got to see a bloom from start to finish - these are adorable little plants - fast becoming one of my favorites. Especially with their seed production! I noticed that if I let the seed pod get dry, the seeds practically fall out of the top when you tip it over.
Michelle, I checked my seeds for the transparent edges and only saw a few (must get better lighting or stronger contacts. ) They feel a little less substantial than the other seeds to me as well.
The germination rate for Balloons is high, so don't fret the weak looking seeds. A tip: I made the mistake of sowing the seeds too thickly. They were so crowded that a mildew easily set in. (I am not one to thin my seedlings - it somehow seems like murder to me!) They are not strong enough to be moved at that stage, so give the seeds some room to sprout. Or thin them, if you have the courage!
How long do they take to germinate JR? I didn't know if I could grow some now and overwinter in the house, or if they would last the winter here. I think the lowest it's gotten during my two years back and forth is 18 degrees during the ice storm in 2004. Otherwise it seems a mellow winter. Whaddya think?
Honestly - I don't know if they need that cold spell or not to germinate. You could try it both ways to see if it would work. Sow some seeds in a pot & see what happens - if none sprout, then leave the pot outdoors for the winter to stratify, & they should sprout next Spring. You should have a longer growing time that my zone, but those temperatures will still kill back the plant in winter. But that is ok - many plants need that resting period. Grown from seed, you should see blossoms by year two :)
Checking the seeds with transparent edges, I find that
after drying for a few days they are now dark gray with
a white edge.
I will wait a week before I pick another pod.
Brown Platycodon seeds? Interesting.
I love Balloon flowers! My nutty DH bought 25 or 50 of them last October at HD, so he spent November planting them along the walk he had just finished building. And I hear every year they grow bigger and flower longer!
This message was edited Aug 30, 2006 11:25 AM
They're beautiful - I have one little plant and have loved it!
Carrie - that is a lovely border! I hadn't thought of them as a border flower - but it certainly works. I bet you have tons of seeds too :)
Thank you, J. My nutty DH was basically responsible for the whole idea. They do tend to flop down on to the walkway from time to time, and then I heartlessly run them over with my electric wheelchair. Will they spread down the whole edge of the grass? I don't think I'll be needing any seeds, except for trading!
I have never had any volunteer seedlings in my garden. I direct sowed Balloons this Spring, & a whole slew sprouted. But soon they disappeared. I have hungry slugs. Yecccche.
Platycodon grandiflora transparent edge seeds.
I decided to test the transparent seeds. I 'bagged' them
one week later, I note that two of the transparent seeds have
germinated, but none of the solid black have.
Has anyone else tested the transparent edged seeds?
How to Plant and Grow Balloon Flower
The easy-to-grow, old-fashioned balloon flower brings showy blooms to the late summer garden.
Balloon flowers get their name from their buds, which look like little hot air balloons before they open into star-shaped flowers of blue, pink or white. Don't let the delicate-sounding name fool you, though. Balloon flowers are tough plants that need little help from you to thrive.
Photo by: Shutterstock/Deep Green
They're hardy perennials that will grow in sun to partial shade. They're long-lived, don't need to be divided and are resistant to diseases and becoming dinner for a deer. Birds, bees and butterflies love them, so a patch of balloon flowers will draw wildlife to your garden.
Perennials That Bloom in Summer 15 Photos
Combine the perennials that are right for your garden and enjoy easy color all summer long.
Balloon flowers are native to China, Japan, Korea and Siberia, where for centuries they've been used for culinary and medicinal purposes. You can find dried balloon roots in the produce aisle at Asian grocery stores. But most people grow balloon flowers as an ornamental.
Botanical Name: Platycodon grandiflorus
Common Names: Balloon flower, Chinese bellflower
Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
Bloom Time: Summer
How to Harvest Balloon Plant Seeds
Balloon flower plants are unusual but beautiful plants that take their name from the balloon-like bubble formed by the petals of their flowers before unfolding. Also called by their scientific name, platycodon grandiflorus, they can be easily reseeded from collected seeds. Harvest the seeds from balloon plants in the fall, when the plants naturally begin to seed.
Note when the plants are done blooming. This could be in late summer or through the fall. You will know the time is right because they produce flat, round seedpods where blooms were previously. They are ready when they are tan, dry and rattle.
- Balloon flower plants are unusual but beautiful plants that take their name from the balloon-like bubble formed by the petals of their flowers before unfolding.
- You will know the time is right because they produce flat, round seedpods where blooms were previously.
Snip the seedpods from the plant. Use garden shears or sharp scissors to do this so you don’t tear or damage the plant unnecessarily. You can use a paper bag or other container to collect them as you go.
Remove the seeds from the seedpods, if desired. You can leave the seedpods to overwinter without opening them, if you want to, or break them open and remove the seeds inside. You should remove the seeds before planting, however.
Label and bag the seeds. Make labels according to the variety of balloon plant they were taken from and the date. Pieces of white tape, masking tape, or postal labels all work fine for this. Stick the labels on plastic baggies and place the seeds in the bags. Use zip-type bags or tape the loose tops shut.
- Snip the seedpods from the plant.
- Use garden shears or sharp scissors to do this so you don’t tear or damage the plant unnecessarily.
Store the seeds in a cool, dark and dry place such as a root cellar or basement. They can be kept until the next spring or even for several years after. Plant when frost danger is past in the spring.
Do not deadhead your balloon plants throughout the summer or fall if you want to collect seeds. The withered blooms are what will become the seedpods.
How to Grow
Now that we’ve talked about starting plants, let’s move on to establishing them in the garden.
You may conduct a soil test to determine the characteristics of your earth. Add lime to lower acidity, or sphagnum peat moss to increase it, as needed.
The soil should be well-draining. If you find your soil is dense and clay-like, you may add builder’s sand or leaf mulch to loosen it and improve drainage.
Leaf mulch may also increase the acidity.
Work the soil to a depth of about 10 to 12 inches, amending it as needed to achieve the appropriate pH and good drainage.
For nursery starts, seedlings, and rooted cuttings, space plants to allow for their mature dimensions. Take care not to disturb the taproots during transplant.
Provide consistent moisture, but always avoid standing water, until plants are well established.
You may apply an all-purpose slow-release granular fertilizer at the time of planting if desired.
A layer of mulch may help to retain moisture, with the bonus of inhibiting weeds that may compete for water and nutrients.
Select pots that are at least two inches wider than the mature widths of the plants, and with a depth of at least 10 to 12 inches to accommodate the taproots.
Be sure the pots drain well. Keep them uniformly moist, but not soggy, and remember that containers will dry out much quicker than ground soil.
How to grow wallflowers
Grow wallflowers in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Sow biennal wallflowers annually in late spring and plant them out in autumn. Dig them up and compost them after flowering.
Plant perennial wallflowers between May and September. Cut back periodically to maintain a good shape and promote flowering. Take cuttings regularly to ward against losses.
More on growing wallflowers:
Find out more about growing wallflowers in our detailed Grow Guide, below.
Where to grow wallflowers
Wallflowers do best in moist but well-drained soils, in a sunny location. They’ll tolerate partial shade.
Bedding (biennial) wallflowers work well when planted with spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils, and can also be grown in pots. Perennial wallflowers are best planted towards the front of a mixed ornamental border.
Wallflowers woth well with a number of other spring-flowering plants, including daffodils. Here, Monty Don plants wallflowers and daffodil bulbs along the edge of a path, for a gorgeous spring display:
How to plant wallflowers
Bedding wallflowers are usually grown from seed. Sow seed in late spring and grow on to plant out in autumn or the following spring.
Here, Monty demonstrates how to sow wallflower seed:
Perennial varieties are best grown from young plants. It’s a good idea to add a handful of grit to the planting hole to aid drainage.
Find out how to plant bedding wallflowers in autumn, in this Gardeners’ World clip with Monty Don:
How to propagate wallflowers
Wallflowers are easy to propagate. In the right conditions, biennial varieties will self-seed. Some mat-forming alpine wallflowers can be propagated by division. Perennial wallflowers are sterile and therefore won’t set seed but they’re very easy to propagate from cuttings.
Find out how to grow wallflowers from seed, in this Gardeners’ World clip with Monty Don:
How to care for wallflowers
Trim flower stalks as they fade. Perennial wallflowers cope well with cold weather and short bouts of frost. However they don’t cope well with wet and windy winters, so make sure the soil is well drained and protect from wind.
Growing wallflowers: problem solving
Wallflowers are part of the brassica family and therefore can be prone to club root and other diseases that affect this family of plants. Downy mildew, leaf blight and flea beetles can cause problems and beware slug and snail damage to young plants.
Perennial wallflowers are quite short-lived and can become woody, so it’s a good idea to take cuttings annually to insure against losses.