Indigenous to China and Japan, Platycodon grandiflorus, the only species in the genus, was grown in European gardens by 1782. Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon included Campanula grandiflora (syn. Platycodon grandiflorus) in the General Catalogue of his American Gardener’s Calendar (1806). ‘Albus,’ the white variety of balloon flower, was first offered by the Ohio nursery Storrs, Harrison, & Co. in 1896. The botanical name is from the Greek platys, meaning “broad,” and kodon, meaning “bell,” in reference to the showy flowers.
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