The common names refer to the seedpods, shaped like hairy balloons. The individual flowers look much like those of their close relatives, the Asclepias species, but are borne in looser clusters. In my first attempt to grow them, I planted them out in late spring, in a partly shaded area. The plants took a long time to reach any size, and didn't bloom till the second half of October - too late to make their signature seedpods. The next year I gave them a position in full sun, and sure enough they bloomed much earlier - by late August. Which meant that by mid-September, I was admiring the cool immature seedpods, which indeed look like green pufferfish! In our garden the plants don't overwinter – so I have to grow them as annuals.
||pufferfish milkweed; balloon cottonbush
tender perennial (Z7-10)
||white/pink (late summer)
||germinate at room temperature
detailed seed-starting info below
|Late October – puffering in their prime |
|The aftermath - this photo taken on Christmas day |
This plant used to grow in our garden, but it slipped away...
One or more images of this plant are included in my stock photo catalog
About my plant portraits
PlantLinks to other web pages about Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Visitors to this page have left the following comments
|Mark A||Nov 13, 2010||Not sure if you know that this plant also has the common names Hairy Balls and Family Jewels Milkweed. By any name it's a beautiful seedpod and a great addition to an everlasting bouquet. |
|Gloria in Michigan||Jul 09, 2012||Any idea where I can buy some seeds for this plant? I see lots of plants for sale, but no seeds. I started a butterfly garden this year and I want these to complete my collection.|
I'd turn to places that specialize in native plant seed. A good place to start looking might be the Open Directory listings.
- Seed from HPS/MAG '08/'09 exchange. Baggy 70F (40%G, 5-12d)
- Same seed as above. Baggy 70F (65%G, 5-10d)
- Seed from '10 garden. Baggy 70F (no G, 17d)
- Seed from HPS/MAG '08/'09 exchange. Baggy 70F (72%G, 5-10d)
Seed is apparently long-lived, if it is viable in the first place. My own plants seem to not have set viable seed in 2010.
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March 10, 2013