Bellflowers (Campanula)

Bellflowers (Campanula) Information

By Jennifer Olvera, Garden Guides Contributor

About Bellflowers

The bellflower is a perennial and one of several plants in the Campanulaceae family. The species, which includes annual, biennial and perennial plants, vary from dwarf arctic to alpine species with alternating, sessile leaves that frequently vary in shape within a single plant and can either be entire or serrated. Bellflowers produce blue, purple, white or pink flowers in panicles and have a large, bell-shaped corolla with 5 lobes.

Site Preparation

Select a site that sees full sun or part shade, and make sure the soil is well drained and rich in organic matter. Generally speaking, the soil should be neutral to alkaline. However, because needs vary from plant to plant,some species require a pH level of 5.1, while others thrive in soil environments as basic as 8.5,it's essential to tailor the site to the individual variety. Work an ample amount of compost into the soil.

Special Features

When properly cared for, bellflowers are vigorous growers that are suited to cutting.

Species from this genus often attract butterflies, birds and bees.

Choosing a Variety

Consider where you would like to plant your bellflowers. The Carpathian bellflower is a low-growing plant, while peach leafed bluebell grows up to 3 feet.

Select a plant that has a sturdy stem that appears vigorous and healthy-looking. Avoid plants that appear overgrown, leggy or are damaged from insects or diseases.

Planting

Plant bellflowers in spring or fall, and plan to space them at least 12 inches apart. Work the soil at least 12 inches deep. Dig a hole the size of the container. Add organic fertilizer and/or compost to the planting hole. Remove the bellflower from the pot, and break up bound roots. Place the plant in the hole, and refill the hole with soil. Once planted, add a 2-inch layer of organic compost and a thin layer of mulch on top. Water thoroughly after planting.

Care

* Remove spent flowers to promote blooming. With bypass pruners, cut the flowering stem of taller varieties just above new growth to promote blooming. Stake tall varieties.
* Cut flower stems to the base of the plant in spring.
* Divide every 3 years or annually in regions with mild winters.

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