Planting Balloon Flower

The Right Place
Balloon flowers are hardy perennials, so they will grow as far north as the Canadian border (zone 3). Their range includes any areas where the winter temperatures seldom dip below -40°F. They are not suitable for warm areas much farther south than North Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri (zone 8).

Balloon flowers grow and flower best in full sun, but they also do well in very light shade. Those kinds with pink flowers should have partial shade to give their best flower color. They prefer light-textured, well-drained, moderately fertile soils that are slightly acid (pH 6.0-7.0). Plant balloon flowers in spring (except in areas with mild winters, where fall planting is also okay).

Planting Nursery Stock
Dig a hole about as deep as the container the balloon flower is in. Gently rap on its base to dislodge the plant and remove it. Untangle or spread any roots that have matted or begun to wrap around the rootball. Set the plant in the hole so that the crown of the plant (the thick area where the roots meet the stem) is barely below the soil surface. Fill in around the roots with soil, firming it gently around the stems by hand. Water well. Space plants 18 inches apart for taller varieties and 10 to 12 inches apart for smaller dwarf types. Growth does not begin until late spring, so be careful not to injure the dormant crowns when working the soil. Plants take 2 to 3 years to become established.

Because balloon flower plants develop deep, carrot-like roots, they are difficult to dig up and divide safely. Therefore the best way to acquire additional plants is to purchase them at the garden center or grow seedlings yourself. Balloon flowers are easy to grow from seed, which germinates in 10 to 15 days at 70°F. Sow the seeds 12 to 18 inches apart in an area of the yard that enjoys full sun or light shade. Leave them uncovered.

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