HARDY PERENNIALS: PLATYCODON

The name ‘Balloon Flower’ comes from the way in which the petals are joined to form a bag, until they finally open and if pinched just previously, they pop. When open, the flowers are saucer shaped and make a good show for a long time. Roots are fleshy, easy to grow in any well drained soil, but shoots are rather late to appear in spring. Old plants can be divided in spring. P. grandiflorum grows to 1 ½ to 2 feet in white and pale blue. The semi double P. ‘Snow/lake’ is a first class plant, as is the pale pink P. ‘Mother of Pearl’. P. ma-riesii grows only 12-18 inches and the colour whilst mainly blue, varies slightly from mid to light blue, with a flowering period of several weeks from mid June onwards-and no fads. There is a fairly new oriental species named P. apoyana which was hailed as something outstanding because it was dwarf, large flowered and deep coloured. I found however that it was not outstanding and having raised some from seed, it showed much the same height. These are all good garden plants but to my mind the semi double white P. ‘Snowflakes’ is the most attractive, for there is no tendency, at 2 feet tall for it being overlooked or to become tarnished by being too lax and dwarf.

PLATYCODON mariesii

PLATYCODON mariesii

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