The Mysterious Symbolism of the Balloon Flower in the Language of Flowers

The balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) graces the landscape with long-lasting blue blossoms from mid-summer through fall. This popular perennial’s symbolism stems from its star-shaped blooms; in different cultures, the flowers represent the five senses and elements of the Tao. Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the meaning and symbolism of Balloon flowers.

Ultimate Guide to Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus)

The Meaning & Symbolism of Balloon Flowers – The Essentials

To the Victorians, balloon flowers carried the symbolic meaning of endless love, honesty, and obedience. They also stood for the desire for a friend to return. In Japan, the star-shaped flowers’ five points represent the five elements of the Tao. In regions of Europe, balloon flowers stand for the five senses.

Etymological Meaning

Platycodon” comes from the Greek platys, which means “broad,” and kodon, which means “bell.” This refers to the shape of the balloon flower’s corolla, which opens in a broad, flat bell-shape

Common names for P. grandiflorus include Chinese bellflower and Japanese bellflower.

Balloon Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Balloon Flower Meaning & Symbolism

P. grandiflorus flowers bloom in blue shades. Cultivars and varieties also bloom with purple, white, and pink flowers. In the language of flowers, balloon flowers stand for endless love, honesty, and obedience. To the Victorians, a gift of balloon flowers may also symbolize the desire for a friend to return.

The color blue in the language of flowers has also long carried the symbolic meaning of serenity, calmness, and peace, thanks to associations with the sky and the water. Historically, rare blue blossoms have also symbolized intimacy, safety, trust, and openness. In some cultures, blue stands for mystery, inspiration, and sympathy.

The color purple, meanwhile, has taken on the meaning of royalty and elegance in other cultures around the world. Purple flowers are commonly gifted to recognize success, admiration, and romance. 

The Cultural Significance of Balloon Flowers

The Cultural Significance of Balloon Flowers

Balloon flowers have played a role in Japanese myth and folklore. There, the flower is called kikyo, which means pentagram. The balloon flowers’ five-pointed blossoms stand for the five elements of the Tao, which include wood, water, fire, earth, and fire.

The platycodon is also one of Japan’s “Seven Flowers of Autumn.” These seven flowers are often the focus of haiku and literature and feature prominently in royal gardens. In medieval Japan, the balloon flower symbolized magic and divination. Several important clans used an image of the Japanese bellflower on their seals.

There’s even a Japanese folk song about the kikyo, called the Toraji. Korean folk music also mentions the balloon flower; here, it’s called doraji taryeong.

European folklore features the balloon flower, as well. In Greece, the five-pointed flowers represent the five senses: Touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Philosophers also used these flowers to symbolize the elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and the ether.

For Wiccans, flowers take the shape of the pentagram, a five-pointed star thought to be imbued with magical, or even divine, properties.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Balloon Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Balloon Flowers

The balloon flower’s association with friendship makes it a perfect addition to floral gifts between friends. As it’s also linked to endless love, obedience, and honesty, balloon flowers are appropriate for anniversary bouquets, as well.

Balloon Flower FAQs:

What do balloon flowers symbolize?

Balloon flowers symbolize endless love, honesty, obedience, and the desire for a friend to re-enter one’s life. In folklore traditions of Asia and Europe, the pointed, star-like shape of a balloon flower has symbolized the five senses, the five elements, status, and connections to magic and the divine.

What fragrance do balloon flowers have?

Balloon flowers do not possess a notable fragrance. Their main attraction is their balloon-shaped buds that burst into beautiful, star-shaped blossoms in shades of blue, purple, white, and pink.

Do balloon flowers come back every year?

In temperate climates, balloon flowers are perennial and will flower year after year.

Are balloon flowers invasive?

Balloon flowers are not registered as an invasive species in North America.

How much sun do balloon flowers need?

Balloon flowers thrive in full sun exposures, or six to eight hours of direct light per day, in cooler climates. In hotter regions, they may grow better in partial shade exposures.


Balloon flowers have long been valued for their many culinary and medicinal uses. From soups and teas in Korea to Chinese traditional medicine, these lovely plants provide both sustenance and healing. Balloon flowers are rich in folkloric meaning, as well. Their five-pointed star shape has been linked to the elements, the senses, magic, and the divine, as well as being a symbol of royalty and status. In the Victorian language of flowers, balloon flowers symbolize obedience, honesty, endless love, and the value of friendship.

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