In this article we are going to talk about a fantastic perennial ornamental plant to decorate the garden throughout the year. Flowering in spring, Platycodon grandiflorus or Chinese bluebell, as it is commonly known, is very easy to grow and perfect for our garden.
And yes, it can also be grown in pots, although the ultimate goal is to be able to arrange it in the garden, where it can reach stems of more than half a meter long and a voluminous flowering.
Although its original habitat is present in Asia, today it is cultivated throughout the world and is considered a resistant plant that is easy to multiply.
It is scientifically known as Platycodon grandiflorus, although in Spanish-speaking countries it is known as Chinese bell. In Anglo-Saxon countries, its name refers to different things, since it is known as “Balloon Flower” since, before flowering, the buds swell and take the shape of a balloon or ball.
Other common names: Japanese snowdrop, snowdrop, balloon flower, parachute flower.
It belongs to the Campanulaceae family , quite numerous and which includes more than 2,200 ornamental species. For this reason, the most common uses of Platycodon grandiflorus are as an ornamental plant, being able to buy species already developed (up to half a meter in height), grown in pots and ready for transplantation to the garden at low prices .
Species native to Asia, where the first specimens were found especially in China, but also in Japan, Korea or Siberia.
Today it is a cosmopolitan species that we can find distributed almost all over the world .
In Spain, it can be grown in any area, especially in the Mediterranean. As its flowering is late, there is no risk of frost (the most sensitive part is always the flower). and we will have no problem cultivating it.
Chinese bluebell is a perennial species , something that we value very positively so as not to create gaps in winter and to continue in the cold months with a good plant cover in our garden.
It is considered a herbaceous plant with continuous and highly branched budding. It is quite active and can reach up to 0.5 meters in height.
Its leaves are toothed, oval in shape and deep green in color, with bluish flashes depending on the incidence of sunlight. However, if we look at the underside of the leaf, it has lighter green tones.
These are perennial and herbaceous plants with stems that branch at the ends and that can reach a little over half a meter in height. The leaves are toothed, oval in shape and bluish-green on the upper surface and light green on the underside. The flowers are large (8-9 cm wide) and can be white, purple, blue or pink. They bloom in summer.
One of the most attractive and valued parts of Platycodon grandiflorus is its flowering .
In the final month of spring and throughout the summer it produces an intense flowering, with large flowers and various colors. They can be up to 10 cm in diameter, and have a flared shape (hence the name of the plant).
It is common to see a white bloom in snowdrop, but there are also subspecies with pink, lilac or bluish blooms .
In the care part, we will offer you the best resources to guarantee a good flowering with the arrival of good temperatures.
HOW TO CARE FOR SNOWDROP ( PLATYCODON GRANDIFLORUS )
Once we have our plant reproduced or purchased directly from the nursery, we will tell you the main secrets and key points of its cultivation .
Platycodon grandiflorus is undoubtedly a hardy and easy-to-grow species . Although it tends to shelter in winter, it keeps the roots active to start their sprouting when the days lengthen and the temperatures rise.
WHERE TO PLANT IT
In the garden, we have to find a sunny or semi-shady area. An important condition to guarantee a powerful flowering is that there is sufficient availability of light .
It must be borne in mind that, being a perennial plant, in winter it loses the aerial part but retains the roots to sprout the following spring, so we have to point out its permanent location.
As we have said, Chinese bluebell is quite resistant to the weather, it sprouts easily and does not need special care. We can grow it in any area of the garden, pots or even terrace planters.
Avoid cold , especially in sprouting. As the first flowers do not come out until well into spring, it is rare that there are frosts on the flowers, the most sensitive part.
However, Platycodon grandiflorus could withstand low temperatures for short periods of time.
WHAT IS THE IDEAL TYPE OF SOIL?
Rustic plant that does not need special care, but if a light maintenance in spring, with the emergence of the flowers.
The most optimal soil for its cultivation, especially when planted in pots, is the mixture of peat (with a lot of organic matter), and sand or any filter material, such as perlite .
With this you get a good pantry of nutrients and also a perfect drainage to avoid rotting of the roots, something that this plant is sensitive to.
If we decide to transplant to the garden , we will do it with warm or moderate temperatures, typical of the spring or autumn season . In the planting hole, we will add 2 or 3 kg of organic matter well mixed with the soil.
Especially in spring, we will take care of recovering the nutrients lost during the winter to ensure proper sprouting and budding.
IRRIGATION AND FERTILIZER CHARACTERISTICS
The risks are moderate , avoiding any kind of waterlogging (hence the importance of permeability of the soil).
The normal thing for this type of perennial plant is to water in the warm months (spring and summer) an average of 3 times a week , with irrigations of 1-2 L / adult plant on average, grown in the garden.
If we have it in pots, we will add half the water (maximum 500 ml per pot) and the same frequency.
With the arrival of the cold, we will reduce the amount and frequency of water intake to facilitate the plant’s entry into rest.
The subscriber is important, especially in spring. Producing a large number of flowers is dependent on minerals that may not be in the soil, so we can provide them either with mineral fertilizers or with organic matter ( compost ).
From the beginning of spring, we will provide a base of organic matter or mineral fertilizer, which we will reapply every month until the end of summer.
A formula recommended as a granulated mineral fertilizer, due to its ease of application, is NPK 12-10-18 + 2 magnesium and micronutrients.
Fertilizers – Universal Fertilizer Blue Bag 800 g. – Batlle
- The Azul Batlle Universal Fertilizer is a complex granulated fertilizer that contains all the nutrients in each fertilizer grain
- Especially suitable for outdoor plants, it provides the necessary nutrients for optimal development of horticultural species, fruit trees and all kinds of ornamental plants, trees, shrubs and flowers
- Its low chloride composition, rich in micronutrients and high solubility provides it with optimal qualities for plant nutrition.
- Composition: CE fertilizer. NPK fertilizer 12-10-18 + 2MgO with micronutrients
- Dosage: Apply by spreading evenly at a rate of 40g / m2
We will provide between 20 and 40 grams per plant, evenly distributed over the main stem.
CAN PLATYCODON BE MULTIPLIED ?
From a plant that we have or have bought we can obtain new species (new or exactly identical).
Platycodon grandiflorus can be multiplied by seeds. We will carry out this process in early spring, and they have good germination power. In this way, the plant can undergo changes with respect to the mother plant, such as flowering of other shades, etc.
The seeds can be collected from the flowers once the petálos fall. They are small but produce a large number.
If we want a plant identical to the one we already have, the reproduction is done by cutting.
It is also very easy to obtain new plants by division of clumps . This operation is also carried out in spring, coinciding with sprouting, with great care since roots must be separated, and they are quite sensitive.
BASIC CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF PLATYCODON GRANDIFLORUS
Platycodon grandiflorus maintenance is very easy. Common tasks such as trimming, removing twisted or damaged stems or pruning in autumn at 10 cm from the base are some tasks, very easy to carry out, that only this plant will ask of us.
As for pests and diseases , if there are no excesses of water it is quite resistant to fungi. On the other hand, we will be attentive in spring, coinciding with the sprouting, that aphids appear on the new leaves, which we will eliminate with potassium soap .
In midsummer, if the ambient humidity drops and with temperatures above 30 ºC, mites may appear, creating little yellow dots on the leaves. You can also make applications with sulfur or potassium soap.
It is a fairly resistant plant to garden pests and diseases, and can be attacked by aphids and spider mites.
USE OF SNOWDROP AS A MEDICINAL PLANT
The history of traditional Chinese medicine is still present, and the Chinese bell has been used extensively. Its roots were used and valued for their anti-inflammatory effect and to prepare infusions against colds or coughs.
Today we can find different parts of this plant being sold in traditional markets in different Asian countries.