Japanese Balloon Flower
or, Chinese Bellflower
"Connection with gardens,Imagine the delight of children who find blooming in the garden a flower that looks exactly like a small balloon. It will soon burst open into a bright five-pointed star, but that day before it opens, it's truly like a little paper balloon.
even small ones,
even potted plants,
can become windows to the inner life."
The Sacred Garden:
Soil for the Growing Soul, 2000
So quite naturally its common name became Balloon Flower, though also known as the Japanese or Chinese Bellflower, being a common wildflower throughout western Asia, & cousin to campanula bellflowers.
Platycodon grandfiflorus 'Fuji Pink' blooms for us starting in June, is in full sway for July, & continues through August or even September. Reaching two feet of height when in bloom, & nearly as wide, this is one of the taller balloon flowers.
The above photo shows 'Fuji Pink' bursting into bloom with four petals instead of the normal five. This happens from time to time & if it could be stablized, it'd probably be worth developing as a new cultivar. But it's rather random. This one clump in our garden produces mostly mutant four-petal flowers, but it's doubtful seedlings from it will do the same.
Some balloon flower varieties can be just a little floppy, but the three colors of 'Fuji' are all somewhat sturdy-stemmed & only rarely need staking. It's more apt to need staking in partial shade than in full sun, & if balloon flowers are to be put in somewhat shaded areas, one of the compact dwarf cultivars will be less likely to become top-heavy.
Spent flowers collapse like broken balloons & as they accumulate can give the clump a messy look, but if now & then the old flowers are pinched off, it'll look nicer & it'll encourage rebloom as late as first-frost.
It's such a pale pastel that at first glance it can sometimes seem off-white rather than pink. I've seen some photographs of 'Fuji Pink' that showed it to be a much more striking pink than will ever be found; such photos are obviously tweaked in photoshop. It varies from an attractive but extremely faint pastel pink, to nearly white with pink veins.
It likes humusy, moist, well-draining soil, but it'll flourish in poor soil & survives a little droughtiness if it must. In a couple years it will have clumped to substantial, but the dense central stem is not wide, arising from a single thick taproot, so never really needs division. It is apt to self-seed into the garden, or if seed is gathered, these are very easily started indoors to be planted out early in spring.
Platycodon grandiflorus 'Fuji White'
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