A member of the mint family, bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis) is an annual flowering plant not native to Ireland, but to western Asia. The green, fragrant bell-shaped flowers add an interesting accent to the summer garden. Cultivated since the 1500s, according to Susan Mahr, master gardener with the University of Wisconsin, stalks of bells of Ireland make attractive flower arrangements, either fresh or dried. Although instructions for planting bells of Ireland indoors can be found on seed packets and on the Internet, the plant forms a long tap root and, much like a carrot, does not tolerate transplanting. In mild winter areas the seeds can be sown outdoors in the fall. Otherwise, plant the seeds outdoors two weeks prior to the last frost.
Choose a planting area that gets full sun. Bells of Ireland will grow in any type of soil but need heat and sun in the summer.
Press the seeds into the soil so that they are barely covered. Bells of Ireland seeds require light to germinate. Space the seeds 1 inch apart.
Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. This may take as long as three weeks.
Thin the plants to 12 inches apart when they are 4 inches in height. To do this, pull out the weaker-looking plants and dispose of them.
Water the bells of Ireland plants when the top 2 inches of soil has dried. Soak the soil and allow it to dry again prior to watering.
Fertilize the bells of Ireland once a month with a 10-10-10 formula fertilizer, according to package directions.