Also known as a Chinese bellflower, this perennial is popular for its large, showy blooms.
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Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8
Flower buds resemble a balloon or Chinese lantern, which is reminiscent of its native habitat of eastern Asia. Great for northern and southern climates. Flowers from mid- to late summer. Two-inch blooms primarily come in blue, but white and pink selections are available. This long-lived perennial is a low-maintenance plant, requiring very little care once established. Plant size ranges from six to 36 inches tall and as wide, depending on cultivar.
How to use it: In masses or in containers. Use in a sunny, mixed perennial border or a cottage garden. Cutflower. Combine with other blue or purple flowers, such as Salvia guaranitica or coneflower (Echinacea sp.)
Culture: Prefers a moist, well-drained site. Plant in full sun. Likes a slightly acidic soil. Stems tend to be weak and therefore may require staking. If planted in light shade, it will definitely need staking. Primarily propagated through seed or division. Division is tricky due to its fibrous root system and may be better left alone. No serious pest or disease problems.
Special notes: The term platycodon means "flat bell" which describes its opened flowers. Children are especially attracted to its unique hot air balloon-like flower buds. Has herbal properties. Attracts wildlife, including birds, bees and butterflies.
- 'Fuji' series. Comes in white, pink and blue flowers. Plant size ranges from 18 to 24 inches tall. Propagated through seed. Used as a cutflower.
- 'Shell Pink'. Has light pink flowers. Reaches 24 inches tall.
- 'Sentimental' series. Compact selections that only reach six to nine inches tall. Comes in white or blue flowers. Doesn't need staking due to its shorter habit. Requires less maintenance than P. grandiflorus.
No matter how alike they appear, there can be remarkable differences in personality and performance.