Balloon Flower

Commonly known as Balloon flower, its scientific name is Platycodon Grandiflorus. It is a perennial plant and the only member belonging to the genus Platycodon of the family Campanulaceae. The Campanulaceae family has over 2400 species of herbaceous plants across 24 genera. The flower is also known by the names Chinese Bellflower, Japanese Bellflower or Platycodon.

The Balloon flower gets its name because of its bud which swells like a balloon before bursting open in full bloom. The botanical name is derived from the Greek words “platys” meaning broad and “kodon” meaning a bell, referring to the shape of the corolla.

The Balloon flower is indigenous to East Asia. These flowers are native to China, Korea, Japan, and the Eastern Siberia.

The Balloon flower grows up to a height of 24 inches (60.96 cm). The leaves are dark green, about 1.9 to 4.7 inches (5 to 12 cm) in length with narrow ends and toothed edges. During autumn, the leaves turn clear gold. The roots are thick and white juice oozes out of the stem when cut. The flower base is shaped like a bell with the crown divided into five petals fused together. The petals surround a star-like pistil. When in full bloom, the Balloon flower resembles a star.

The Balloon flower blooms in late summer, around July and August. It is suitable to grow in the USDA zones 3a to 9b. It does not survive in winter, recurring in late spring. The flower prefers light shade. It thrives in well-drained soil, preferably sandy or slightly acidic soil. It cannot tolerate drought.

The Balloon flower is a herbaceous plant. With blue blossoms being the most common, varieties of purple, pink, and white Balloon flowers are also found. The Balloon flower is widely cultivated. Common cultivars are Fuji, Apoyama, and Mariesii. Some popular types of Balloon flowers cultivated are:

  • Apoyama are violet balloon flowers that grows up to 15 inches (38.1 cm).
  • Astra Double Blue are double-pleated, dwarf balloon flowers.
  • Astra Pink are light pink balloon flowers.
  • Double Blue are compact violet balloon flowers that are double-pleated.
  • Komachi balloon flowers remain in their bud form, in a puffed balloon stage. They do not open.
  • Pumilum Album are white balloon flowers that does not grow more than 18 inches (45.72 cm) tall.
  • Sentimental Blue are bright, blue balloon flowers that grows up to 6 to 8 inches (15.24 to 20.32 cm) tall.

The Balloon flower is a magnet for butterflies and birds. The vibrant blossoms attract bees and other pollinators.

What Do Balloon Flower Symbolize?

Mid-summer through autumn, the Balloon flower covers the gardens and landscapes with beautiful blue blossoms. Different cultures have different Balloon flower meaning and symbolism.

In the Victorian Era, the Balloon flower meaning symbolized endless love, honesty, and obedience. In Japan, the Balloon flower is called kikyo, meaning pentagram. Its symbolism comes from its star-shaped flowers. The five points of the five petals symbolize the five elements of the Tao – wood, water, fire, earth, and air. In Japan, it also symbolized magic and divination during the medieval times. In some regions of Europe, the Balloon flower meaning symbolizes the five senses. The Wiccans thought this flower to be imbued with divine and magical properties. The Balloon flower meaning also symbolizes the desire for a friend to return.

What Do the Different Colors of the Balloon Flower Mean?

The balloon flower meaning and symbolism can be further explained by its colors. These gorgeous blooms are found in shades of blue, purple, white, and pink.

Blue Balloon Flower:

The blue Balloon flowers symbolize serenity and peace. They also symbolize intimacy, safety, and trust.

Purple Balloon Flower:

In some cultures, the purple Balloon flower symbolizes royalty and elegance.

White Balloon Flower:

The color white is associated with calmness and purity. White balloon flower symbolizes new beginnings, devotion, and innocence.

Pink Balloon Flower:

The symbolism of pink Balloon flower varies from attachment to marital love, from companionship to friendship to gratitude.


Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Balloon Flower

  • The Balloon flowers have little to no fragrance.
  • The Balloon flower is not toxic.
  • This plant make great cut flowers in the floral arrangements.
  • The European gardeners first came to know about the Balloon flower in 1844. A Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune came to know about this plant on his trip to eastern China.
  • In Korea, the plant and its root are called Doraji. The roots are one of the common vegetables and most frequently used ingredient in the Korean culinary.
  • The roots of the Balloon flower are used as flavors in syrups, tea, and liquor. They are often cooked with rice.
  • The roots must be soaked and washed, rubbing with sea salt, multiple times to remove the bitter taste.
  • The Balloon flower is broadly used in traditional medicines. The flower has a naturally occurring compound, saponin, which has many medical benefits.
  • The roots of the Balloon flower have expectorant, sedative, astringent, and antitussive properties. They are believed to have medicinal values for weak immune systems and respiratory diseases.
  • In China, the Balloon flower is used as a remedy for common colds, sore throat, chest congestion, and tonsillitis.
  • China has a history of using the Balloon flower in medicinal preparations dating back to over 2000 years.
  • In Korea, the roots of the Balloon flower are used to treat asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, tuberculosis, and other such inflammatory diseases.
  • In Japan, the Balloon flower is one of the Seven Flowers of Autumn.
  • The platycodon cultivars Apoyama and Mareisii have received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticulture Society.

Best Time to Gift Someone Balloon Flowers

The Balloon flower meaning is associated with friendship. This flower makes a perfect gift between friends. It can also be used in anniversary bouquets as the flower symbolizes endless love and honesty. The purple balloon flower can be gifted to convey admiration or congratulate successes.

The Balloon flower is a favorite amongst the home gardeners. It can be planted with other flowers such as Sedum, Helenium, Daylily, and Coreopsis.