Campanula grandiflora - Platycodon grandiflorus

Campanula grandiflora - Platycodon grandiflorus

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Platycodon grandiflorus is a perennial herbaceous, lively, coming from East Asia, in particular from China, Siberia, Korea and Japan. Until 1830 it was considered a bellflower, but after numerous movements, it was assigned a genus of its own, belonging however always to the great family of the Campanulaceae. Only the species is known at horticultural level platycodon grandiflorus comprising a large number of varieties and cultivars, obtained, thanks to research, from the mid-19th century to the present day.
The name platycodon derives from the Greek and means "broad bell".
The thin, erect stems, 30-50 cm high, carry numerous alternate, oval or lanceolate leaves, green-blue in color; from the beginning of summer to the beginning of autumn they produce numerous roundish buds, the flowers are star-shaped, with 4 or 5 lobes, blue, lilac, white or pink. These small plants are widely used in borders, like other bellflower species, due to the rich summer flowering and longevity of the plants; they are also used in herbal medicine and ancient Chinese medicine.


The plants of campanula grandiflora they settle in a sunny place, or in the partial shade; excessively shaded positions can cause poor flowering; in areas with very hot summers the plants certainly develop best in a place protected from the sun during the hottest hours of the day. THE platycodon grandiflorus they tolerate very cold temperatures without problems, since the plant is in vegetative rest during the winter months; sometimes the aerial part dries up completely. The new leaves will develop in late spring.

Platycodon characteristics

In spring the stems of the campanula grandiflora they sprout very slowly forming a light green cone from which the slightly glaucous leaves with toothed edges emerge. As the plant grows, their color evolves towards a medium glossy green. From June, highly branched and sparse flowering stems rise. At their ends they carry flowers formed by five pointed petals (in the dark violet species, but they are also available in white and pink), grouped in clusters. There are simple and double flower varieties. They resemble the bluebells very much, if it weren't for the exceptional size of the flower: for this reason they are also called "large flower bellflowers".
The buds are very interesting: they are very swollen and resemble balloons: in the United Kingdom the plant was nicknamed Baloon Flower; children love it very much because they enjoy making them burst.
Over time it forms a large network of rather deep fleshy roots. However, this lively growth is rather slow: it usually takes at least two years to get a nice pillow. However, it is always very long lasting and therefore it is only necessary to have a little patience: it is very rustic, resisting well both to the cold and to the great heat and is very rarely attacked by parasites. It is a plant on which it is worth aiming, both for cultivation in the garden and in containers on balconies, terraces or window sills.

Platycodon watering

From April to September water the platycodon grandiflorus regularly, especially in the months of July and August; in the vegetative period mix the water of the fertilizer for flowering plants, every 15-20 days.
As we have said, the irrigations must be quite frequent in the first two weeks of planting, but taking care not to leave stagnations. After this period the plants will be practically autonomous and we will have to intervene only in cases of long drought associated with a great heat (if we see weakened plants).
To keep the soil always slightly humid, it is always advisable to prepare a good mulching layer at the foot of these perennials, based on leaves, straw or sheaves deriving from the cutting of the lawn (well dry).

Platycodon soil

These bluebells prefer rich and loose soils, very well drained but not too dry; when planting them, mix the balanced universal soil and little pumice stone with coarse grain size to the garden soil to increase drainage.
Platycodon wants a medium-fiber soil, that is, it is generally aerated, fresh and rich, well-drained. It is extremely important though that it is deep so that the roots can grow vertically in search of moisture.
However, good drainage is almost as important given that the most frequent drawback is the appearance of radical rot.
The ideal exposure can go from full sun to even partial shade, depending on our soil and climate conditions. In the north and in the alpine areas it is undoubtedly recommended a warm exposure or with a slight shade in the afternoon hours.
In the Center-South and in the coastal areas the partial shade is strongly recommended, especially in the afternoon. Excessive heat could in fact compromise the flowering that occurs in the central months of summer.
Before proceeding with the planting we reflect well on the position we have chosen: these plants in fact do not like to be disturbed at all and must therefore be inserted and left in the same location for at least 4 years.
Even for potted plants, a more sheltered area is recommended, as overheating of tiled floors and the resulting radiation are often the cause of decay between July and August.


Campanula grandiflora plants can be propagated by seed, in a cold greenhouse in autumn; in spring it is possible to divide the clumps of leaves; in summer you can practice cuttings, using stems that have not produced flowers.

Pests and diseases

Generally these plants are not affected by pests or diseases. It is a very healthy plant. In addition to avoiding water stagnation, we must pay particular attention to slugs and snails, which feed on the leaves of P in the spring with great voracity. We set up beer traps or, in the most serious cases, use lumachycids.

Use platycodon

It is a very adaptable herb. Find a good location in green areas, both in the foreground (for example, it goes very well with roses or other flowering shrubs) and in the rock garden.
It is also very suitable for growing in containers, especially in dwarf varieties. It lives very well both outdoors and indoors, but in a very bright location. In this case its slow growth becomes a great advantage as maintenance can be extended considerably.
Moreover, tall garden varieties provide beautiful stems that can be appreciated as cut flowers. They keep for a long time and can be dried to become part of a pot-pourri and compositions.

When and how to proceed with the planting?

Campanula grandiflora seedlings are generally found in the early spring, between April and May. This is the recommended period for planting, especially where winters are harsh.
If we live in the Center-South, it may instead be a good idea to get the seedlings in the fall and proceed immediately to the insertion. In this case they will certainly not suffer damage from the cold and the recovery will certainly be more developed.
First of all it will be necessary to work the soil in depth eliminating all the weeds and the roots present. We incorporate a good amount of well decomposed manure or compost. If the soil is still heavy, we can still add a few handfuls of fine, coarse river sand. We insert the plants spacing them from 20 to 40 cm one from the other, depending on the cultivar and therefore of the final size that they will have to reach. We extract the seedlings from the pot very carefully because it is very important not to damage the roots, as they are very sensitive.
Let us irrigate abundantly, continuing for two more weeks, in the absence of rain (without however stagnating).

How to compose a vase?

To get a good result it is essential to choose a container that is deeper than wide so that the long fleshy roots can develop at ease. We create a thick draining layer on the bottom with gravel, expanded clay or glass marbles. We insert the seedling and block it with some soil for flowering plants, mixing 20% ​​of sand. We compact well and we irrigate, avoiding the use of the saucer.
On the surface we can spread a teaspoon of granular fertilizer for flowering plants.


Higher varieties, especially in windy areas, may require guardians. It is good to insert them at the end of spring, well deep, and tie the flower stems with a rubber tube or natural raffia. These materials will not damage plant tissues.

Platycodon pruning

As the season continues, it is essential to intervene frequently by removing the exhausted flowers to prevent them from going to seed. We will stimulate the issue of new castings. Towards the end of the season we can leave some to collect the seeds (which, however, will hardly give us flowers identical to their ancestors).


vegetation Perennial herbaceous, lively
flowers Diam 5 cm, purple, blue, light blue, white, pink
height Up to 60 cm
width 30 cm at maturity
maintenance simple
growth slow
propagation Seed, division
rusticitа Very rustic (up to -20 ° C)
exposure Full sun / half shade
usages Bordura, rock garden, vase, indoor
ground Deep, rich, well-drained, neutral or sub-alkaline
Soil moisture Slightly damp
Planting (North) From April to June
Planting (South) October-November
Flowering From June to September

First nameFloweringHeightOther characteristics

Average height
'Fuji' series Very large flowers, white, pink and mauve From 40 to 60 cm in height
Hakone Huge white or purple flowers 50 cm
'Mariesii' Deep purple blue flowers Up to 40 cm Very floriferous
Mother of Pearl Pale pink flowers 60 cm

Average height
'Apoyama "Series Large purple-blue flowers Up to 20 cm Long flowering
Suitable for vase
'Astra' series Blue, pink, white and lavender with simple or double flowers From 10 to 30 cm From vase or rock garden
Sentimental blue Light blue, flowers with only 4 petals 30 cm


To have abundant and colorful blooms we can distribute a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants every 15 days or, for each plant, a teaspoon of slow release granular fertilizer (generally last about three months). Administration should be performed from the beginning of spring to September. We always choose products that are predominantly potassium compared to nitrogen, so as not to excessively stimulate vegetative growth at the expense of flowering.


As we have said, these are plants with rather slow growth. Divisions should be reduced as much as possible. It is advisable to intervene on average every 4-5 years, paying the utmost attention not to damage the roots, which wither and rot easily.

Pot cultivation

We regulate regularly, always avoiding that the soil is completely dry, but never exaggerate. We fertilize every 15 days with a product for flowering plants. We can proceed with divisions or repotting every two years.

Campanula grandiflora - Platycodon grandiflorus: Curiosity

The flowers and roots are edible. The latter are very commonly used in oriental medicine.
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