Canterbury Bells or Bellflowers - Garden Basics - Flower - Annual
Canterbury bells are classic cottage-garden flowers. The annual forms grow in noteworthy 2 1/2-foot-tall pyramids, which are covered in late summer with spikes of large bell-shaped pink, rose, lavender, blue or white blossoms, each 2 inches or more long. A "cup-and-saucer" variety, C. medium calycanthema, bears flowers with double bells, one inside the other. Although this variety is a biennial, it will blossom the first year if started indoors. The handsome plants look good in an annual border and make unusual, long-lasting cut flowers. They look best in massed plantings in borders or among shrubs.
Canterbury bells require sun and rich, moist soil. Sow seeds in the garden as soon as the soil can be spaded and raked in the spring, or start them indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost for earlier flowering. Transplant seedlings started indoors into 3-inch pots when they are large enough to handle, then move them into a cold frame two weeks before the last frost is due to enable them to become acclimated to outdoor conditions gradually. Set them in the garden, 12 inches apart, when all frost danger has passed. Protect from strong winds. Light support may be necessary when plants are in full bloom. They will benefit from monthly side-dressings. Annual Canterbury bells require about six months to grow from seeds to flowers.
annual (or biennial)
pink, rose, lavender, white, blue
rich in organic matter, well drained
not suited to tropical or dry regions
bed, border, cutflowers, massed planting