Watering Tips For Thriving And Healthy Balloon Flowers

Balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) are one of the best perennials around for gardeners looking for beautiful, dramatic flowers that require little maintenance. As easy as these beautiful plants are to grow, they still require some basic care. While young balloon flower plants may need extra attention and water, all balloon flowers benefit from moderate amounts of regular watering, as well as well-draining acidic soil that ensures they get consistent moisture without becoming waterlogged. Using mulch and watering early in the morning to limit evaporation can help ensure your balloon flowers are able to take up the water you give them, so they can thrive and last for decades.

While balloon flowers are not native to North America, instead hailing from China and Japan, the plants are not invasive and can thrive in USDA zones 4 through 9. They, like many perennials, take years to mature if grown from seed, but can eventually reach around 2 feet tall if they're given good soil and a sunny, or partly sunny, location. Unlike many perennials, they seldom require dividing, though their willingness to set seeds ensures you'll have plenty of balloon flowers with little effort.

Watering balloon flowers

Balloon flowers grow well from seeds or can be purchased as young plants. Their seeds, like other plant seeds, need constant moisture for germination. Even young balloon flower plants may need some extra care initially, as they can be slow to establish. And like many perennials, they may need extra water during their first few years.

To help your balloon flowers to establish healthy roots, it's best to water them deeply, but not too often. Watering each plant for at least 30 seconds is important for ensuring their soil is fully saturated. While balloon flowers enjoy moist soil, they can be susceptible to root rot, so it's important to grow them in well draining soil and use your finger to check the soil's moisture level an inch or two below the surface before you begin watering. While they generally need about an inch of water a week, many factors, including temperature, wind, and soil composition can impact this. 

Using morning watering and mulch to keep your balloon flowers thriving

While the common advice to avoid watering plants on sunny days to prevent sun scorch has largely been shown to be a myth, there are advantages to watering balloon flowers and other plants early in the morning before the sun is directly overhead. The biggest benefit to watering in the early hours of the day is that it is less wasteful, as less water is lost to evaporation. While morning watering may be best, if you notice midday that your balloon flower plants are in desperate need of hydration, don't wait for the "ideal" time to water them, and instead bring out your hose immediately.

Gardening mulch can go a long way towards keeping your plants hydrated and your water bill down, even during the hottest and driest months. In addition to mulch's other benefits, such as limiting weeds and keeping soil temperatures more consistent, mulch also helps limit water lost to evaporation. While this is important for all plants, especially during a drought, it's especially important for those like balloon flowers that need moist soil to thrive. Laying down a layer of mulch around 2 to 3 inches thick can make a huge difference for helping balloon flowers thrive during dry months — just be sure to avoid covering the plants' crowns.