Love In A Puff Vine (Balloon Vine)
The balloon vine is one of the most common plants found growing wild in gardens and landscapes. It grows from ground level up to a height of 4 feet or so, but it does not reach its full potential until it reaches about 5 feet tall. It’s leaves are small, round and greenish yellow with white margins. Its flowers are tiny, pinkish red and have five petals each. They’re pollinated by bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
It is native to South America and was introduced into North America in the 1800s. Since then it has spread throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. It prefers moist soil, but can grow in dry areas if conditions are right. It likes full sun but will tolerate partial shade as well. It tolerates drought, but it is usually best to keep it watered during periods of low rainfall.
Growing Conditions For Balloon Vine Plant In Gardens
Balloon vines prefer warm weather and can survive cold winters. However, they do better when given some extra moisture at times. If your garden is located in a sunny location, you may want to provide them with some shade, especially if the temperature gets too hot or cools down too quickly. They like to have their feet in the soil and are not usually picked to grow on fences or walls.
Propagating Balloon Vines From Seed
You can easily grow balloon vines from seeds. They can be started inside in pots or trays or outside in a well worked garden bed that’s been enriched with organic matter. The seeds can be scattered on top of the soil and lightly covered. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Once the seedlings emerge, keep them watered and in a few weeks small flowers should start to grow. When they bloom you can transplant them into another bed or container where they will hopefully mature to their full size. Or you can leave them in their first location and keep dead heading the flowers to encourage more foliage growth.
Caring For Balloon Vines
The plant is quite drought tolerant once it matures but during periods of establishment, it’s best to water it regularly. Fertilize it monthly with a good granular fertilizer.
You can trim off the spent flower heads once they’ve wilted and cut back on the appearance of new flowers, but this will not extend the life of the plant or its flowers. It may even cause it to look less attractive as it tries to re-establish itself.
Your best bet is to dead head your plant by cutting off the flowers as soon as they appear. This will cause the plant to put more energy into growing new leaves and rootstock than it will flowering. It will also encourage the plant to branch out and flower more as well.
If you have a secluded place that needs filling, the love in a puff could be just what you need since it really doesn’t require much work at all. The only drawback is that it does have an invasive nature so you might want to make sure you don’t plant it anywhere where it can become a nuisance.
Uses For The Love In a Puff Plant
The long lasting flowers can be used in corsages and arrangements, but they are often used as fillers in floral arrangements of other native plants. They do have a scent, but it is rather weak and not really noticeable from more than a few inches away.
They are also used in drying arrangements and are very popular in wedding bouquets due to their long lasting nature. Because of their large numbers of seeds, they are also often used as birdseed as well.
In the past, they were also used to stuff mattresses and pillows due to their lasting nature and fragrance. Unfortunately their large hard seed pods make them rather uncomfortable especially on hot days when their moisture has heated up!
Mostly however, they are appreciated for their beauty and long lasting blooms. They also attract butterflies and hummingbirds with their nectar.
Their soft delicate nature is often used as an analogy for love in songs, movies and poems. Their lovely flowers have been used as inspiration for artists and writers alike.
They may be a bit hard to come by, but the Love in a puff vine is definitely worth the effort to find one. It’s a plant that can fill nearly any garden area with its interesting blooms, fragrance and soft heart shaped leaves.
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Sources & references used in this article:
In vitro clonal multiplication of Cardiospermum halicacabum L. by MN Esther, JP Robinson – Research in Plant Biology, 2013 – updatepublishing.com
Diagnosis of Sclerotinia rot of Indian mustard using spectral approach under field conditions by A Kumar, S Narwal, AS Rathi, R Avtar… – Research in Plant …, 2013 – updatepublishing.com
In vitro clonal propagation of Cardiospermum halicacabum L. through nodal segment cultures by MS Shekhawat, M Manokari, N Kannan… – The Pharma …, 2012 – thepharmajournal.com
Armitage’s Vines and Climbers: A Gardener’s Guide to the Best Vertical Plants by AM Armitage – 2011 – books.google.com
Old-fashioned Flowers: Classic Blossoms to Grow in Your Garden by T Martin – 2000 – books.google.com
Tennessee’s Native Plant Alternatives to Exotic Invasives by A Garden – assets.speakcdn.com
Tennessee’s Native Plant Alternatives to Non-Native Invasives by A Garden – tnnaturalist.org
Taylor’s Guide to Annuals: how to select and grow more than 400 annuals, biennials, and tender perennials by BW Ellis – 1999 – books.google.com