PLAXYCODON Chinese Bellflower, Balloon Flower

The buds swell into large, angular balloons before opening out to produce saucer-shaped flowers. These blooms are about 2 in. across and long-lasting – Platycodon is an interesting and attractive flower which should be more widely grown. Finding a suitable spot should not be difficult – it has no special soil requirements and will tolerate light shade. Mulch around the young shoots in early summer and cut back the stems in autumn. It does have one problem – all the top-growth disappears in winter and the new shoots do not appear until late spring. It is therefore easy to dig up when cultivating the border and a plant label next to the clump will warn you to steer clear.

VARIETIES: The basic details of P. grandiflorum are height 1-2 ft. Spacing 1 ft.

Flowering period: June-September. White and pink varieties are available but the favourite one is the compact pale blue ‘Mariesii’ (1 ft). ‘Snowflakes’ is a semi-double white and the pink variety is ‘Mother of Pearl’.

P. grandiflorum ‘Mariesii’

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained garden soil will do – thrives in sun or light shade.

PROPAGATION: Do not divide the clumps. Sow seeds under glass in spring or buy a named variety from a garden centre or nursery.

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