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Balloon flowers are low-maintenance plants that reward you with beautiful summer blooms with minimal care. However, environmental changes, such as decreased soil quality and lack of sunlight due to tall structures, can damage them. Sometimes, your best option is to transplant them elsewhere.
You can transplant a balloon flower (P. grandiflorus), but it’ll most likely struggle to adapt to its new environment, especially when it’s been suffering from other problems prior to moving. Nonetheless, you can still encourage your plant to thrive if you transplant it properly.
The rest of the article will explain how to transplant a balloon flower successfully. Read on until the end, as I’ll also share how to address any sign of stress after transplanting your plant.
How To Transplant a Balloon Flower
If you feel like transplanting is your only option to keep enjoying the balloon flowers’ colorful blooms for more years to come, following the steps below will improve your chances of success:
Plan Your Transplant in Spring or Fall
The best time to transplant your balloon flowers is in spring while they’re actively growing. During this time, they have better chances of recovering from transplant stress as long as they receive adequate care.
It’s also acceptable to transplant your Platycodon in the fall. However, there are a few things to consider when doing so. One reason balloon flowers fail to bounce back in spring is that they suffer from winter injuries caused by inadequate hardening during the fall.
Ideally, the temperatures should steadily decrease for the plant to harden enough in preparation for freezing temperatures in the winter. If the temperature fluctuates drastically, the plant will become more susceptible to winter damage (source).
Therefore, if you want to transplant balloon flowers in the fall, avoid deadheading the flowers too frequently. It will shorten the blooming period, giving you enough time to harden your transplant before the first fall frost.
Never transplant perennials during the blooming season (source).
One to two weeks after the last flush of blooms dries out, cut off the dead flowers and dried foliage. Leave a few healthy leaves behind to help generate food as the plant gradually enters dormancy.
Choose a Sunny Spot With Well-Drained Soil
Balloon flowers need bright and direct sunlight to produce abundant blooms. They can also thrive in partially shaded areas but will be less likely to have as many flowers. Therefore, choose a spot where your plant can receive at least six hours of sunlight daily.
Another crucial factor when choosing a new spot for your balloon flowers is the soil quality. This plant has thick, fleshy roots that are sensitive to overwatering. In fact, they’re so fragile that they don’t tolerate being transplanted very well (source).
You can encourage the plant to adapt quickly by introducing it to a well-drained substrate. Choose the higher level when growing balloon flowers on a slope.
Avoid low areas that receive runoff from rain or lawn irrigation. Such runoff may contain contaminants that can harm your plants (source). In addition, your plant will receive more water than necessary, increasing the risk of overwatering and root rot.
Dig Deep Enough To Extract the Roots
A fully established balloon flower plant typically has a root system one foot (30 cm) deep into the ground. If your plant is a taller variety, it’ll likely have a longer taproot. And it usually takes only 2-5 years for the plant to reach its full size (source).
Therefore, if your plant is over two years old, you must dig at least one foot (30 cm) deep and six inches (15 cm) away from the base of the plant. For younger plants, digging six inches (15 cm) deep should be enough to pull out the entire root system.
Start digging at least three days after a rainfall or watering session. You’ll want the soil to be moist enough to be easy to work through and reduce the risk of injuring your plant. Your balloon flower should also be adequately hydrated.
Loosen the soil and carefully pull the roots out. Extracting the roots entirely will help it focus more on adapting to the new environment instead of healing injuries, improving your success rate.
Transplant the Balloon Flowers Quickly and Water Deeply
For the best results, transplant the balloon flower within an hour after pulling it off the ground. Here are some tips to make the process faster and easier:
- Moisten the soil in the new spot. You can water the ground at least three days before the transplant schedule. This will make digging easier and provide a more comfortable environment for the transplant.
- Dig the soil about one foot (30 cm) deep and one foot (30 cm) wide. It’s better to have more space for the roots.
Once the hole is ready, remove as much old soil from the roots as possible and inspect for signs of root rot. If they have darkened or decayed sections, they’re unsuitable for transplant. On the other hand, white and plump roots are more tolerant of a new environment.
Place the plant into the hole, keeping the base on the same level as the ground surface. Fill the gap in with enough soil to keep the transplant snug, and pat the soil around the roots when you’re done.
Water the plant deeply and wait one whole week before adding more water.
Observe Your Transplant for Any Signs of Stress
As discussed, balloon flowers don’t respond well to being transplanted and will show signs of transplant shock when the conditions are unfavorable. One sign to look out for is the yellowing of leaves.
This symptom can be due to multiple issues. Here are some examples:
- Nutrient deficiency: Your balloon flower might not be receiving enough nutrients from the new location. This typically happens in spring when plants are actively growing and thus require more nutrients. You can apply half-strength liquid fertilizer once for quick release and amend the soil with compost for slow release.
- Too much sunlight: If the yellowing leaves eventually turn crisp and dry on the edges, it could be due to excessive heat and light. Provide your plants with adequate shade from the scorching afternoon sun.
- Overwatering: Although new transplants need water to adapt to their new environment, balloon flowers are generally sensitive to excessive moisture in the soil. So if the leaves are turning yellow with some water-soaked spots, you may need to reduce the watering frequency or improve the soil’s drainage.
Balloon flowers generally dislike being divided or transplanted. However, when done right within a suitable environment, your transplant will grow healthily in its new spot. Follow the tips recommended in the article, and your plant will continue to thrive for many more years.