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How to Grow Love-in-a-Puff — Cardiospermum

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Cardiospermum–commonly called love-in-a-puff–is a tropical perennial climber that bears small white flowers followed by paper-like capsules that resemble paper lanterns–the puff in the common name. Cardiospermum attracts bees and is considered a very good pollinator plant.

Cardiospermum uses tendrils to climb supports; it can grow to as much as 12 feet tall. Cardiospermum has attractive fern-like foliage; alternate, 2-ternate leaves that are deeply toothed; leaves are 6 to 8 inches long.

Cardiospermum is a tropical perennial; it is commonly grown as a tender annual in temperate climates.

Cardiopermum is a genus of 14 species native to tropical Africa and India.

Get to know Cardiospermum

  • Plant type: Perennial vine
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 10-15
  • Hardiness: Not frost tolerant
  • Height and width: 10 to 12 feet (3-4m) tall, 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) wide.
  • Foliage: Fern-like foliage; alternate 2-ternate leaves are deeply toothed
  • Flowers: Small flowers greenish-white flowers with 4 unequal petals; flowers are followed by ovoid, 3-angled, balloon-like capsules which mature light green to brown
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Vertical interest, cut flower
  • Common name: Love-in-a-puff, ballooon vine, winter cherry
  • Botanical name: Cardiospermum
  • Family name: Sapindaceae
  • Origin: Tropical Africa and India
Love-in-a-puff also called balloon vine, Cardiospermum halicacabum
Love-in-a-puff also called balloon vine, Cardiospermum halicacabum

Where to plant Cardiospermum

  • Light outdoors: Plant Cardiospermum in full sun.
  • Soil outdoors: Plant Cardiospermum in humus-rich, moist, but well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Grow in a soil-based potting mix.
  • Light indoors: Grow in bright filerted light.
  • Provide a stake, trellis, or other support for Cardiospermum.

When to plant Cardiospermum

  • Set container-grown Cardiospermum outdoors after the last frost in spring.
  • Start Cariospermum seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost.

Planting and spacing Cardiospermum

  • Space Cardiospermu 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) apart.

How to water and feed Cardiospermum

  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.
  • Apply a liquied fertilizer monthly.

Cardiospermum care

  • Thin Cardiospermum plants so that they do not grow congested.
  • Cardiospermum grown as a potted plant should be potted up once a year until it reaches maturity.

Cardiospermum pests and diseases

  • Aphids and whiteflies can attack Cardiospermum.

Cardiospermum propagation

  • Sow Cardiospermum seeds in warm soil in spring. Germination takes 21 to 30 days.
  • Root softwood cuttings in summer.

Cardiospermum varieties to grow

  • Cardiospermum halicacabum, balloon vine, love-in-a-puff. Slender, woody-based evergreen vine; tendril climber usually grown as an annual; deeply toothed leaves; bears tiny greenish-white flowers from summer to autumn; ovoid 3-angled, balloon-like capsule follows flowers.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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