Cardiospermum halicacabum, or Balloon Vine, is a woody, perennial vine native to Tropical America. They are fast growing to 10 feet (3 m) with twice 3-parted leaves that will reach 4 inches (10 cm) long. The plants climb with tendrils and need some form of support. They are used as annuals in USDA zones 5-8 and are perennial in zones 9-11.
Blooming Time: The small white flowers bloom from summer through the fall, flowers are not very showy. The fruit from which the plant gets its common name is a brown, thin-shelled, inflated angled capsule up to 1 1/8 inch (3 cm) in diameter containing 3 black seeds each, with a white heart-shaped scar.
Culture: Cardiospermum halicacabum need full sun to partial shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The plants are kept moist for optimum growth and are fertilized on a weekly basis during the growing season. During the winter months the plants are allowed to go dormant for the winter. In late September plants are subjected to cooler temperatures and water is somewhat restricted until the plants die back. At this time the plants are cut back and kept at 48° F (9° C) until spring. If the plants are used outside in zone 7, they should be treated as annuals.
Propagation: Cardiospermum halicacabum is propagated from seed where they are to be grown.
Cardiospermum halicacabum was featured as Plant of the Week April 16-22, 2004.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.