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per 10 seeds
Balloon plant / Love in a puff
The balloon plant is native to Bermuda, but has now spread throughout a large part of tropical Africa and Asia. The species is remarkable for its peculiar fruits and dark brown seeds with white hearts. In addition, the sort is well-known as a medicine because the extracts of the plant are inflammatory, pain- and itch inhibiting. It’s very likely that the plant was brought to Europe during the Medieval ages to serve as an ornamental plant. But the healing effects were only discovered later. Indians in America carry the seeds on a bracelet as protection against snake bites.
The species can be kept in colder climates as an annual plant. Quite soon, the plant climbs up to 2-3 meters high, so that a bare fence or wall can quickly be covered with decorative leaves. The flowers are small, white and are followed by 3 cm large, bloated fruits. The species is quite invasive in the tropics, so you can only cultivate it in a temperate climate.
First soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours. Then sow them in sowing mix and let them germinate at around 20 degC. Keep the soil constantly moist.
February - May
Photos: H. Zell (CCA-3.0 Wikipedia)