Name: Gomphocarpus physocarpus aka fur balls, hairy balls or balloon plant….not to be confused with balloon flower which is a whole other plant.
Type of Plant: This pretty plant is a tall annual in the northeast and as a member of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) it’s related to milkweed and oleander among others. Although it’s an annual in cold regions, in zones 8 to 10 it’s perennial and in tropical climates it can also be invasive.
Why I Love This: I love the fact that the flowers attract pollinators such as wasps and bees, and in the morning the edges of the leaves are often ornamented with tiny droplets of water. But this plant’s main attraction is the balloon-like seedpods: they are amusing and ornamental, on the plant and in flower arrangements.
A Word to the Wise: This plant loves the heat. In this area it’s a good idea to start the seeds indoors in March or April so that it has a head start and will start to make its “hairy balls” in August. Also, be aware that this plant is said to be poisonous to people and livestock.