Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
Commonly known as balloon vine or love-in-a-puff, Cardiospermum halicacabum is a small vine originating from the tropics of Central and South America, but is equally happy growing here each summer in these northern climes.
It is a delicate-looking plant with finely-cut foliage, tiny white flowers and thin tendrils, which enable it to scramble up a support or a neighboring plant. Each flower gives way to a whimsical, lime-green seed capsule, turning a light tan color when mature.
These inflated capsules provide interest for much of the summer and look like tiny lanterns. The seeds inside are round and dark brown with a perfect, heart-shaped, white marking on one side (the “love” inside the puff).
Although our gardeners raise plants each year in the greenhouse, seeds that drop naturally from the pods in autumn will often survive the winter and germinate the following spring. It can be seen in several spots in the Wild Garden.