Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland - Garden Basics - Flower - Annual

(Molucella laevis)

Bells of Ireland is a lightly scented plant that grows 24 to 36 inches tall. The 1- to 2-inch, white-veined green bells that cling closely to stems are not really flowers but enlarged calyxes--the outer leaves that appear at the base of most flowers. The true flowers, tiny, fragrant and white, are deep within the bells. The popular names alluding to Ireland have been applied to this plant only because of the green color of the bells, not because the plant comes from Ireland; it is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, primarily Syria.

Bells-of-Ireland makes interesting and long-lasting cut flowers, and have additional value as dried flowers for winter arrangements. Dry them in a cool, dark, airy location and pick the sparse prickly-textured leaves off the stems so that the bells become more conspicuous. Whether you plan to use them in fresh or dried arrangements, the best time to cut is when the flowers are well-formed.

Since bells-of-Ireland are difficult to transplant, sow the seeds outdoors when there is no longer any danger of frost, but while the weather is still cool. Space them 12 to 16 inches apart. They germinate best at 50 degrees; germination takes 3 to 5 weeks. They grow well in average soil and will not require side dressing if the soil is rich in organic matter. Water deeply in dry weather. Deep watering aids the formation of good root mass to support this tall plant.

The display is not long lasting but they should flower for a few weeks in summer. Once the flowers fade they will not flower again, so the plants can be removed. They shed seeds which will germinate the following year.

  • Type
  • Propagation
  • Light
    full sun
  • Flower Color
  • Bloom Time
  • Height
    24-36 inches
  • Width
    12 inches
  • Soil Requirements
  • Zones
  • Uses
    bed, border, cutflowers, dried

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