Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevis) are not grown for their flowers, which are white and tiny, but rather for the bell-shaped, emerald green calyx that surround them. You are unlikely to find this old-fashioned plant at a garden center, but it is easily grown from seed.
Despite its name, the plant is not from Ireland but is a member of the mint family from Western Asia, including Turkey and Syria.
Bells of Ireland grow to 2 or 3 feet. They prefer sandy, well-drained soil and lots of sun. If planted in too much shade, the spikes will lean.
Sow Bells of Ireland seeds indoors for an early start, or plant them right in the garden. The seeds require light to germinate, so barely cover them with soil.
Bells of Ireland are also sometimes called "shell flowers" because the plant's large white seeds appear at the bottom of the calyx.
Bells of Ireland make an excellent dried flower. Cut them when all the blooms are open and hang upside down to dry. They also do wonderfully in arrangements.
The stems have tiny thorns, so gloves are recommended when handling Bells of Ireland.
- University of Arkansas
- Master Gardener Susan Mahr
Bells of Ireland flower, shell flower, Molucella laevis
About this Author
Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.