Starting Balloon flowers under lights

johnva(Z7 TN)December 27, 2005


I started a thread on how I start seed and cuttings under lights over in the plant propagation forum. I included pictures if anyone is interested :)

Title is "Easy propagation methods 2"

Additional pictures are available in the "Perennials gallery" and at my photo site:

I run my lights 24/7 and wick water the pots.

One thing that continues to amaze me is that one of the seedling pots (6 inch) is drinking over 20 oz a day through wick watering under lights. Since this combines several forums I thought I would do a crosslink here :)

John Va

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What is wick watering? And where do you get such equipment?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 7:35PM
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johnva(Z7 TN)

Pictures are here explaining it;
Title is "Easy propagation methods 2"

It is using a cord (wick) to pull water from a bowl (under a pot) into the pot to provide water as needed by the plant. In essence it is water on demand, kinda like your pet going to a water bowl when it's thirsty :)

My plastic bowls came from dollar store 3/$1 and the wick came from Walmart 50 ft/$1.49. (In the section where they keep the camping gear tent pegs, it is 1/4 inch Braided Polypropylene) If you don't like cheap use Tupperware and tent peg cord from your upscape camping store :)


    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 10:09PM
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Cool! Thanks for sharing the information with pictures. I will copy and print it out for future reference, if you don't mind. I just got a greenhouse for Christmas and I think this would be a very good watering system for the bigger plants. I am also going to try it with my 3 house plants.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 12:43AM
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johnva(Z7 TN)

My Balloon flowers are doing awesome under lights. you might want to check out some of my pics here too :)


    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 12:14AM
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primitive(S.E. Ia. zone 5)

I'm no expert, but I read recently that Balloon flowers have a long tap root and are difficult to transplant. Some thing to think about. Hope yours work out. Primitive

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 2:38AM
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johnva(Z7 TN)

I got 8 of the roots from Parks last summer in an order and all did very well. In fact that was the source of most of my seed I am growing now. Those roots were about 1/2 inch by 2.5 inches when I received them, kind of like mini dahlia roots. I grew each of them in one gallon pots.

When I redid the wicks on some of my balloon flower seedlings growing in 6 inch pots I ended up with 6 little seedlings with 1/8 x 3/4 inch roots. I replanted those in larger pots. Of those only one is still actively growing under lights although all the little roots appear to be still alive. I suspect they would have done much better if I had taken more care of them and used something to maintain the humidity until they got reestablished.



    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 5:10PM
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DanaNY(z6 Astoria, NY)

I grow balloon flowers indoors under lights, like John, and I had no problem transplanting them. But then again, I don't mess with the roots too much. The trick is to pluck it out of its pot without disturbing the roots and just stick it into a new pot (or outside). I've transplanted many plants with tap roots or sensitive roots that way and they don't seem to notice.

John, congrats, I see they finally bloomed! That yellow tipped one is unusual. Besides the blue I showed you, I have streaked (blue and white) that hasn't bloomed yet. I can't wait to see those. I also have pink and double blue, but haven't planted them yet. Hope you're enjoying the flowers. :)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2006 at 7:17PM
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johnva(Z7 TN)

Hi Danany,

I am enjoying the blooms tremendously, seems like a few move open each day. I would love to have some of your streaked seed if you have any extra after yours bloom?

I contitue to be amazed at how thirsty these plants are. The ones I have growing in 18" and 24 inch window box type pots with trays have to be watered twice a day.

I have single: white, pink, purple/blue (Astra and other), double: white, lavender, and blue. The one that bloomed pink was a lav double. All the Astra seedlings except the blue double seem to be extremely sturdy, low growing, and covered with blooms. The double blues are puny in comparison to the others.

I have been crossing the doubles on singles so far and some double color crosses. They seem to be forming healthy seed pods.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 11:40PM
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DanaNY(z6 Astoria, NY)

Hi John, the woman who sent the seeds couldn't guarantee that they didn't cross. I'm hoping they're streaked, but of course won't know for sure until it blooms and I only planted one streaked (the rest are blue) for the time being since I'm supposed to be moving soon and I doubt I'll be taking all my plants with me. So far I haven't collected seeds from any balloon flowers yet, but I'll let you know when I do. Do you know about how many seeds form in each seed pod or you don't know yet?

(hey, they changed our user names to all lowercase...grumble!)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 4:30PM
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johnva(Z7 TN)


The number varies quite a bit but I think it can be several hundred on a big pod. I think hand pollinated ones are much bigger :) Some of the ones on the Astra seedlings that just bloomed are certainly much bigger than the ones I collected outside in the fall.

I will try to count some of them this time :)

Have a beautiful tulip shaped white one blooming today. It's the one with over 12 buds on the 7 inch plant. Also several new purples today too.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 12:08AM
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DanaNY(z6 Astoria, NY)

Hi John,

Ok, that's good to know. I'll try to save seeds from this one after it blooms as long as it comes true. If no luck this time, I'll have to plant more after I move. I still want to try the other colors eventually.

12 buds on one plant? That's impressive! Must've been the Astra? I'll have to try those at some point.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 8:29PM
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johnva(Z7 TN)

Just want to share a few pics from growing under lights. These are all Astras:

First is a 4 inch across purple/blue:

Second is a tulip shaped white that is 2.5 inches across and 2 inches deep. This is the 12 bud one and now has more on it:

Last is the half inch seed pods I am getting:

John (feel free to copy the pics if you like them)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2006 at 9:49AM
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DanaNY(z6 Astoria, NY)

Nice, John! Thanks for showing the seed pod. The streaked one still hasn't bloomed yet, just has dormant buds so far. But one of the blue ones is about to bloom again.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 8:52PM
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johnva(Z7 TN)

Well, good news on the roots I replanted from the rewicked pot. They have put up new growth plus the two plants I brought in from outside, growing in one gallon pots, have continued to bloom.

I'm making lots of crosses between all the varations I now have blooming. My double white seedlings are getting big but at two months I expect it is still 4-6 weks til I'll see bloom on them :)

In the mean time I'm busy moving stuff to my new home in TN :) Hope to put my VA house on the market in Mid-March :)


    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 10:54PM
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how far should you space balloon flowers

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 8:13PM
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Do you have any pictures of balloon flower seedlings? I need to know if the seedlings growing where I planted balloon flower seeds are in fact balloon flowers. They look like they might be.

The first link you posted did not work. It went right back to this forum and the pictures did not come out.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 1:02PM
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