Has anyone ever told you to “grow a pair?” Well…why stop at just two? When it comes to balls, you can grow several and they can be hairy! And at the same time, you’ll be growing great material for cut-flower bouquets, attracting pollinators to your gardens, and causing those who visit your flower or veggie beds to smile. Take it from me: the smiles alone are worth planting Gomphocarpus physocarpus.
In warm climates this is a tall perennial. In fact, in zones 8 through 10 it can self-seed and even become invasive. That’s not a concern in northern regions, however, and this is a fun plant to grow. Start the seeds indoors in March, using lights if necessary. Transplant outside into a sunny spot once all danger of frost is past. After that, water regularly, fertilize with the product of your choice and then stand back and enjoy the show.
The genus name of this tall plant comes from Greek and means club (gomphos) and fruit (karpos). The species is also Greek in origin, meaning bladder (physo) and fruit (karpos). The plant is related to milkweed and attracts bees and wasps making it a good choice for growing near the veggie garden. It is also called balloon plant and when picked green the inflated seed pods dry well.
So grow a pair (or more) or hairy balls this spring!