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Growing Balloon Flowers

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Growing Balloon Flowers      

Data

Botanical name: Platycodon grandiflorus
Family: Campanulaceae
Origin: Japan, China
Type: Seeds (Perennial)
Seeding season: Spring, autumn
Blooming season: Summer, autumn

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Charm of Balloon Flowers

Wild balloon flowers have existed in Japan since long time ago, and they are considered as ones of the most representative autumn flowers. In some theories, balloon flower might have been called "morning glory" in an old Japanese poem. The root has been used as cold or cough drug in folk medicine.
Like its name, their buds are like balloons, and their flowers are star-shaped.

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Seeding

Seeding season is spring or autumn, when it is cool. Because seeds require sunlight to germinate, do not cover the seeds with soil. Usually it takes 10 to 20 days for them to germinate.
Because the development of the root is significant, space the seedlings if they are too crowded each other. At least 2 inches of interval is required.
To transplant them, it is proper to do it when the seedlings are about 2 inches in height with 3 or 4 leaves. Transplanting is impossible if they have grown too big, because the root is too tough.

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Other Method

It is common to plant the cut stem. In summer to autumn, cut a thick and strong stem in about 3 inches of pieces, and plant them in soil directly. They will get the root in about 2 weeks. If you cut the stem of balloon flower, white juice comes out. So, it is recommended to plant them after this juice dries out to prevent infection.

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Location

Because balloon flowers like sunlight very much, keep them under the sun. They grow very well when it is hot in summer.

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Watering

Water them sufficiently especially in summer. Their origin is Japan, Korea or China, where it is humid in summer. If you grow them in the place, where it is dry in summer, such as California, maybe you should water them everyday. It is recommended to give water to the leaves also to control mites.

Even though they like water, do not leave water in the saucer and keep them from excessive humidity.

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Fertilizer

Though balloon flowers also like fertilizer very much, if you do not want them to be too big, you don't have to fertilize them too much. Maybe it is convenient for them if they are not too big in containers.

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Pests

Though they are not very troublesome regarding pests, maybe you should pay attention for slugs.
Beside it, they also may get mites. So, it is recommended to spray water to the leaves.

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Growth Period

To make them have more flowers, pick the top to encourage them to have branches when they are around 8 inches.
In summer, when they have the first flower, if you dare to cut them to 4 inches from the soil surface, you can enjoy the flowers for long time until autumn. It requires lots of energy to generate seeds. If you wish to have flowers continuously, pick the fading flowers before seed generation, and let them save energy.
You may not be able to expect flowers on the first year after seeding, but don't be disappointed. They must have flowers on the second year.

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After the flower

The foliage starts to turn yellow and die back while it is getting colder. Cut the whole part above the soil, to let them spend the winter, though you may feel sorry. They will get new seedlings in the next spring.

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Medical Effect

Caution: It is not recommended to make medicines because it is risky to intake plants without professional knowledge.

Medical Parts: Root
Indication: Whooping cough, sore throat.

The root of balloon flowers has been used as medication for sore throat or coughing in Japan. Here is how to make the throat drug .
1. Dig out the root of balloon flower, and dry it under the sun.
2. Take 5g of the dried root, and boil in 300ml of water, until the amount of water is half.
That's it. If you have a sore throat because of flu or persistent cough, gargling with this solution frequently may relieve your symptoms.
Actually, people used to drink this with dividing in 3 portions in one day, however it is not recommended. It is better to make balloon flower tea from "platicodi radix", sold in Chinese drug store.

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