Growing bells of ireland

Bells Of Ireland Care: Tips For Growing Bells Of Ireland Flowers

(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)

Mulucca bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis) add an interesting, upright touch to the colorful flower garden. If you grow a green-themed garden, bells of Ireland flowers will fit right in. Bells of Ireland facts indicate these flowers prefer dry and arid conditions, although they also perform well in cool summer conditions.

Bells of Ireland Flowers

While Mulucca bells of Ireland is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, the greenish blooms lead to their common name, having nothing to do with their place of origin. Bells of Ireland flowers are sometimes called shellflowers. Cold climate gardeners as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 2 can grow bells of Ireland for summer blooms.

Bells of Ireland facts indicate

the plant may reach 2 to 3 feet in height. Foliage is an attractive green, as is the flower calyx (base). The actual blooms are small and white, offering an overall green appearance. Multiple stems arise, offering an abundance of blooms on each plant.

Bells of Ireland Facts

Bells of Ireland flowers are annual plants. Grow bells of Ireland in warm climates for plants that readily reseed. In areas with cold winters, start seeds of bells of Ireland flower indoors a few weeks before outdoor temperatures warm, or you can broadcast seeds outside late in spring, when conditions have warmed substantially. Those in warmer areas can plant seeds outside in fall.

To start indoors, plant in seed trays early for the longest bloom time of bells of Ireland flowers. Plant seedlings outside when temperatures have warmed above nighttime frost levels.

Bells of Ireland Care

Plant this specimen in full sun or partial shade in well-draining soil. Poor soil is fine as long as it has good drainage. Keep the soil moist.

This plant is not appealing to browsing deer, so use it in outlying gardens where other flowers may be damaged by hungry wildlife.

Bells of Ireland care can include fertilization, if needed. Large plants with heavy blooms may need staking. This attractive plant is good in fresh cut arrangements and is often used as a dried flower. To dry bells of Ireland blooms, harvest them before seeds appear and hang upside down until calyx and flowers are papery.

BELLS-OF-IRELAND, SHELL FLOWER

Though its common name implies Irish origin, this plant is in fact native to the Mideast. To 23 feet high, 10 inches wide. Flowers are carried almost from base in whorls of six. Showy part of flower is its large, apple-green, shell- or bell-shaped calyx, very veiny and crisp textured; small white tube of united petals in center is inconspicuous. Blossom spikes are quite attractive and long lasting in either fresh or dried arrangements; be sure to remove the leaves, which are not especially good looking. Deer don’t usually bother it.

Not an easy plant to grow in the South, as it dislikes hot, humid weather. Sow seeds in an empty planting bed in loose, fertile, well-drained soil in fall. Do not cover them with soilthey need light to germinate. Sow where you want plants to grow, as seedlings do not transplant well. In most areas, seedlings appear in spring. For long flower spikes, fertilize with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks. In Florida and South Texas, seeds will germinate in fall (refrigerate them for a week before sowing), and the plant can be grown as a winter annual.

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland

Always a standout among garden plants, bells of Ireland sports green, bell-shape calyxes on long, stringy stems. The showy calyxes aren’t the outer whorl of this annual’s true flowers, which are tiny, white, and often fragrant. Gro… mostly as a cut flower, bells of Ireland also makes a stunning accent plant in a mixed border or in a container garden.

genus name
  • Moluccella laevis
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 12 to 18 inches
flower color
  • White
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
special features
  • Fragrance,
  • Good for Containers,
  • Cut Flowers
propagation
  • Seed

Growing Cut Flowers

Bells of Ireland lasts for a long time after being cut. Its beautiful green calyxes also dry extremely well; if left on the plant, they turn a light beige. If you plan to use bells of Ireland in arrangements, wear gloves to cut the stems to protect yourself from the sharp thorns. For fresh arrangements, cut the stems when half of the calyxes have opened. For dried arrangements, wait until all the calyxes have opened before cutting.

Find tips on creating flower arrangements from your garden here!

How to Grow Bells of Ireland

This annual does best in regions with cool summer climates. For best results, plant it in full sun. You may need to stake it once it’s grown to prevent flopping, even in a sunny location. (Or choose a dwarf variety.) This annual needs well-drained soil that remains evenly moist at all times. It can’t tolerate soggy soil or standing water. In poor soil, you may need to feed bells of Ireland regularly to help it develop taller spikes and larger flowers.

Sow seeds directly into the garden a few weeks before your region’s last frost date. In climates with mild winters, sow seeds in the fall. In either climate, simply sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil so they get the light they need to germinate. You can also start the seed indoors using a seedling heat mat and grow light, but this plant forms a tap root that you need to avoid disturbing when you move seedlings out into the garden.

Check out our list of the easiest annuals to grow from seed.

If you plan to use bells of Ireland in flower arrangements, sow lots of seeds as this plant will not bloom again once it has been cut. Consider leaving some plants with spent flowers in the garden to facilitate reseeding.

Plant Bells of Ireland With:

If you have a hot, baked spot, lantana is your answer. This hardworking plant not only thrives with little moisture and in full, unyielding sun, it does so with ease. In fact, lantana is a flower that seems to have it all: It produces an abundance of brightly colored flowers all summer and fall, and it’s a magnet for butterflies (hummingbirds like it, too). It’s easy to grow and a great choice for containers. Plus, if you have a sunny spot indoors, you can grow it as a charming indoor plant. In frost-free climates (Zones 9-11), it’s a great perennial groundcover, as well.

Big, beautiful, and old-fashioned, sunflowers fit into every garden. Plant breeders have been hard at work producing a wide variety of plants, from those that grow 12 feet tall to compact selections that stand only 3 feet. The color range is wide, too, with almost every shade of yellow, orange, and red.

Want fast color for just pennies? Plant zinnias! A packet of seeds will fill an area with gorgeous flowers in an amazing array of shapes and colors — even green! And it will happen in just weeks. There are dwarf types of zinnias, tall types, quill-leaf cactus types, spider types, multicolor, special seed blends for cutting, special blends for attracting butterflies, and more.Zinnias are so highly attractive to butterflies that you can count on having these fluttering guests dining in your garden every afternoon. But to attract the most, plant lots of tall, red or hot pink zinnias in a large patch. ‘Big Red’ is especially nice for this, and the flowers are outstanding, excellent for cutting. Zinnias grow quickly from seed sown right in the ground and do best in full sun with dry to well-drained soil.

Bells of Ireland is an unusual annual flower.

Bells of Ireland or shellflower, Molucella laevis, is a half-hardy annual that produces unusual pale green to emerald green, funnel-shaped “bells” along green stems in summer. The persistent bells are the showy calyx (cup-shaped leaves around the base of the flowers) which surrounds tiny fragrant white flowers. The papery ¾ -1¼” bells are densely packed along most of the length of the square stems that reach 2-3 feet tall. Clusters of 2½” long leaves alternate between the bells, with pairs of small thorns or spines below each calyx.

Tiny white flowers are surrounded by a papery bell.

Despite the common name, this plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae) is not from Ireland, but is native to western Asia, around Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus. Even Linnaeus, who named the plant, was a bit confused about its origin, naming the genus after the Molucca Islands in Indonesia where it was mistakenly thought to be from. It’s supposed association with Ireland probably has to do with the color (and associated marketing potential). It has been cultivated since 1570; the flowers are a symbol of good luck. Both the flowers and rounded, pale green leaves with slightly scalloped edges have a distinctive, difficult-to-describe scent.

Old flower spikes turn brown and dry.

Bells of Ireland are nice when combined with other colorful annual flowers in the border or cutting bed. They also do well in containers, offering a vertical component. The light green color complements purple-leaved plants, or can be used in monochromatic schemes with other green-flowered plants such as Zinnia ‘Envy Double’ and Nicotiana langsdorffii, or along with bright green coleus (such as ‘Super Chartreuse’). They even look interesting late in the season when the old spikes become dry and bleached (if they haven’t been pruned out to encourage new growth).

Blooming stems can be cut to be used fresh or dried in flower arrangements. They are especially effective when used in all-foliage and contemporary arrangements. When dried, eventually the color fades to a pale beige. To dry, pick the stems when the bells are fully open and hang upside down in small bunches in a dry, airy place until fully dry.

The small, dark-colored seeds are triangular in shape.

This bedding plant is easily started from seed. Sow seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost. Barely cover the seed as they need light to germinate. Germination may be slow (up to a month). To speed up germination, chill the seeds for two weeks (seal the sown seeds in a plastic bag and place in a refrigerator) first. The small plants can be transplanted outdoors once nighttime temperatures are above 40F. Place in sun to partial shade in ordinary garden soil and space about a foot apart. Bells of Ireland often self-seeds in the garden if flower stalks are left on the plants until dried. The dark colored seeds can be collected to save for sowing the following year or allowed to scatter on the ground. Small seedlings can be transplanted to other locations, if desired (although they may wilt temporarily until re-established).

(L-R): Seedling, young plant and flowering plant of Bells or Ireland.

Bells of Ireland prefers full sun and regular water. Water during drought periods and fertilize monthly for best results. They do not do well in summer in hot, humid climates. Taller spikes may need staking in windy sites. Bells of Ireland has few pest problems and is not favored by deer or rabbits.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin-Madison


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Bells of Ireland Floral Care Guide


Bells of Ireland usually arrive as part of a mixed bouquet, and if cared for properly, they’ll last between seven and 10 days. When the leaves open, these magnificent green bells reveal a tiny white blossom in the center. A member of the mint family, they are slightly fragrant and add a vivid pop of color to any arrangement.

When your bouquet arrives, place it in a wide container filled with water and cut about an inch off the bottom of the stems. This allows them to absorb fresh water quickly. The stems are hollow, so you want to keep them submerged to avoid air from penetrating and creating bubbles in the waterway. Even when you’re changing the water or trimming the stems, turn the flowers upside down, fill them with water and plug the bottom of each stem with a cotton ball or your finger until they’re returned to the vase. Because they tend to yellow, remove the leaves from the lower half of the stems and keep the vase free of any loose foliage. The stems have thorns, so handle them with care, or, better yet, use gardening gloves when preparing your arrangement. Add flower food to your vase and arrange your bouquet.

Despite its name, bells of Ireland, also referred as a shell flower, is actually native to Turkey and Syria. Originally dubbed moluccella, they were first thought to have originate in Indonesia’s Moluccas Islands. Bells of Ireland were also cultivated in Belgium for their subtle fragrance, which was used in perfumes. They’re a beautiful addition to any bouquet, and make a wonderful gift for those embarking on a new adventure – starting a new job, having a baby or buying a house. Because of its Kelly-green hue, bells of Ireland also symbolize money and wealth. And of course, it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without the bells of Ireland front and center in restaurant bouquets and at parties.
When your bouquet begins to droop, you can remove your bells of Ireland and hang them upside down to dry. They look beautiful as a wall hanging or as part of a wreath.

Bells of Ireland

BELL OF IRELAND

Annual (2 ft/61 cm) Approx. 4,200 seeds per oz/28 gr

GREENHOUSE: Seed will not germinate unless it is pre-chilled in a refrigerator @ 50°F/10°C. for 5-10 days before seeding. Sow in sandy soil Apr. 1st . Germination is usually rather irregular and very slow, taking about 5 weeks. For best results, soil temp. must be alternated between 85°F/29°C. day temp. and 50°F/10°C nights. Keep moist. If you have cold frames, it may be easier to direct seed flats and germinate the seed in unheated frames. This species seems to rebel against a greenhouse environment, for starting seed. It will grow like a weed, if sown outdoors in the Spring but you will not be too successful unless you try to simulate natural outdoor Spring conditions!

HOME GARDEN: Give the seed the cold treatment, described above, then sow outdoors in late Apr. or early May, while the soil is still cold. Choose a sunny warm location. Cover seeds lightly. Keep plants well watered and feed lightly with 20-20-20 fertilizer for extra long, full flower stalks. Cut flowers last quite a while, and are excellent for arrangements. To use as an everlasting, cut close to the ground, remove leaves, retain “bells”. Hang up side down in a cool, ventilated cellar to dry. Spray with various colors for unusual floral arrangements

by Erin Marissa Russell

Do you love the attention-grabbing glamour of flowers with tall vertical spires, like hollyhocks and larkspur? If you’re also a fan of low-key monochromatic sophistication, bells of Ireland flowers, with blooms in shades from artichoke to emerald, will make a wonderful addition to your garden’s repertoire. The plants reach two to three feet in height, making them a natural fit for the back row of your flowerbed. The summer-blooming half-hardy annual’s unique scent (reminiscent of green apples) and its suitability for fresh or dried floral arrangements give gardeners even more reasons to cultivate this chartreuse beauty.

Since 1570, bells of Ireland have been tended by horticulturists who appreciate the drama of their showy flower spikes, the lush greenness they add to a garden’s palette, and their distinctive smell. They’re still a hit today, and it’s easy to see why. The green bells stacked densely on each stalk range from three quarters of an inch to an inch and a quarter, with a tissue-paper feel and scalloped edges. Each bell hides a delicate white or pink flower that blooms once per season. Between the bells are lush leaves, each about two and a half inches long, and each bell sits atop a pair of spiny thorns.

Before we get into how to sow, grow, and care for bells of Ireland flowers, let’s dispel a few of the myths that surround this member of the mint family. First of all, the name aside, these flowers don’t hail from the Emerald Isle, though like the Irish, bells of Ireland are associated with luck. The Latin name, Moluccella laevis, is also both location-centered and misleading. Linnaeus, who named bells of Ireland, was under the impression they came from the Molucca islands in Indonesia. In actuality, these flowers come from western Asia—to be specific, Turkey, Syria, and Caucasia. Secondly, the showy green “bells” aren’t exactly the flower of the plant. The green cup-shaped parts of the bells of Ireland are actually the sepals that make up the calyx. The teeny white blooms, which look a bit like miniature orchids, sit tucked away within the bells.

Varieties of Bells of Ireland

You may see bells of Ireland called shellflower or referred to by their botanical name, Moluccella laevis. In Australia, they’re also known Molucca balm or Moluccella balm. The “Pixie Bells” cultivar grows to just 18-24 inches (as opposed to the standard two-to-three-foot size), making it an excellent choice for growing these gorgeous flowers in containers.

Growing Conditions for Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland are suited for USDA zones 6 through 11. They are tolerant of heat but do not thrive in climates that are both hot and humid. Some gardeners report that due to this preference, they are not easy to grow in the southern U.S.

The best spot to place bells of Ireland is in full sun, but if needed, they can be grown in partial sun. These flowers prefer their soil on the rich and loamy side, but average soil will suffice if fertilizer is applied to compensate. Choose a spot with good drainage, as bells of Ireland don’t flourish when waterlogged or starved of moisture.

Prepare soil for bells of Ireland by removing gravel and weeds, then working compost into the top six to eight inches. Finish by leveling the soil and smoothing it down. For optimal performance, test soil after each growing season to find out what adjustments are needed before the next season begins.

If compost isn’t an option, you can instead add one or two inches of mulch after planting bells of Ireland, though it’s best to wait until after seeds have germinated so they get the light they need to sprout. The mulch will break down into compost as the plants grow. Just make sure to keep mulch away from the stems to avoid problems with rot.

Gardeners in Florida and South Texas can grow bells of Ireland as a fall annual by germinating seeds in the fall. Simply refrigerate seeds for a week before sowing them along with the rest of your fall annuals.

How To Plant Bells of Ireland

While you have the option of sowing bells of Ireland directly or starting them indoors, not to mention choosing young plants from a nursery, direct sowing is recommended. These plants use a long taproot to gather nutrients from the soil, and that taproot doesn’t like to be disturbed, so transplanting can present challenges. When transplanting can’t be avoided, be as gentle with the roots as possible. If you do choose to start bells of Ireland indoors or purchase your plants and then place them in the garden, don’t expect maximum performance their first year. If allowed to self seed, the following season’s plants will be taller and more prolific.

When choosing bells of Ireland seeds, you’ll see both raw and cleaned seeds on the market. Cleaned seeds are generally recommended and easier to grow. Bells of Ireland can be fussy in the germination phase, so for best results, sow more seeds than you think you’ll need. You can always thin your plants out. Germination is often more successful outdoors than it would be indoors because these flowers enjoy chilly, wet conditions.

To speed up the germination process and increase each seed’s chances of success, prep seeds by chilling them in your refrigerator before you sow. Moisten a paper towel evenly, and place the seeds on the paper towel. Fold the towel to fit inside a plastic sandwich bag, seal the bag, and store in the refrigerator for two weeks.

To sow bells of Ireland directly where they’ll grow, plant them in the fall about a foot apart, and cover with a quarter of an inch of fine soil. Take care not to cover the seeds too much, as they need light to sprout. Instead of one seed per foot, you may choose to plant groups of three and thin to the strongest plant when seedlings start to grow. Firm the soil lightly with the palm of your hand, water it well after planting, and keep the area evenly moist. Young plants will appear in seven to 14 days if seeds have been prepped in the refrigerator. Otherwise, germination can take up to a month.

If you choose to start bells of Ireland indoors, plant them eight to 10 weeks before the last frost of the year. Young plants can resist light frost, but a sudden freeze can damage them. A seedling heat mat can speed up the process as well, if you have one on hand, but be sure to remove it as soon as germination occurs. Barely cover the seeds with soil so light can reach them. If possible, use grow lights to ensure the seeds get the light they need. Position grow lights two or three inches above the soil, and keep them on for 18 to 20 hours per day.

Water seeds and seedlings frequently, and do not let the soil dry out. Harden off young plants grown indoors by exposing them to the elements in gradually increasing blocks of time before transplanting them outdoors. Wait until overnight temperatures stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit to move bells of Ireland to the garden.

Care for Bells of Ireland

During the growing season, bells of Ireland require about an inch of rainfall per week. If your rain gauge falls short, water the plants yourself to make up the difference. Soil for bells of Ireland should be kept evenly moist but not overly saturated. A drip or trickle irrigation system that gently adds water to soil is best, but if you use overhead sprinklers, simply water early in the day so the plants can dry before nightfall to prevent disease.

Monthly, administer a balanced water-soluble fertilizer to get the most out of your plants. Use a liquid fertilizer in early summer, and really lay it on thick to encourage lush growth. Keep weeds at bay to let bells of Ireland make the most of the soil’s nutrients.

Because these showy flowers stretch so high, you’ll need to protect them from high winds either by placing them in a spot with a windbreak, such as a fence, or by staking. Stake plants while they are still young.

If flowers are left to dry in the garden, bells of Ireland will often self seed. In fact, some gardeners say they self seed “like crazy.” Seeds are dark in color and can be either collected to plant next year or left where they fall. If you don’t want to see these flowers return year after year, be sure to harvest the flower spikes for arrangements before they have a chance to dry.

Garden Pests and Diseases of Bells of Ireland

Watch leaves for small flecks with a yellowish halo that eventually turn brown, as this sign indicates cercospora leaf blight. If plants are wilting at the soil line to finally die back, your plants may be facing crown rot.

Keep an eye out for the tiny bugs and sticky residue that point to an infestation of aphids. A healthy population of natural predators, such as lady bugs or wasps, can help keep aphids under control, as can insecticidal soap. Visible webbing on plants or yellowing, dried-out foliage can mean tiny spider mites are making a meal of your plants. Hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap should solve a spider mite problem if one crops up.

Using Bells of Ireland in Arrangements

Harvest the flowers regularly to use in fresh or dried arrangements to promote the blooming of side shoots. Bells of Ireland spires stay fresh for eight to 10 days in fresh-cut arrangements. Remove the leaves before arranging to make the bouquet even more beautiful. The stems of these stunning, spiky flowers are hollow, making them a challenge to use with floral foam, but this setback can be overcome by inserting a wire into the stem before using.

To collect bells of Ireland for fresh arrangements, cut the flower spikes when they are the desired height and when half the bells are open and green. Keep fresh arrangements in a cool, shady area for the longest vase life.

Dried bells of Ireland fade from their characteristic green shade to a pale beige. Cut the flowers for drying in mid to late summer, when they’re blooming most productively and bells are fully open. Hang the stalks in small bunches upside down in a dry, airy location until they’ve dried out completely.

Want to Learn More About Bells of Ireland?

Looking for a quick introduction to these stately plants? The link below will bring you to a slideshow of facts about Bells of Ireland that’s just over two minutes long:

If you’re trying to decide whether to grow Bells of Ireland from seed or purchase young plants, this clip examines the extra work involved with cultivating your plants from seed:

Here’s an in-depth look at the process of preparing soil and planting Bells of Ireland seeds from Carrie’s Gardening Channel, and Carrie also discusses solutions to some common problems gardeners experience:

This slideshow video shows Bells of Ireland in various arrangements and planting setups that may inspire you when it comes to companion plants, creative containers, or cut flower bouquets:

Want more reading on Bells of Ireland?

Britannica covers Bells of Ireland
Burpee covers Learn About Bells of Ireland
Calyx Flowers covers Bells of Ireland – Moluccella laevis
Team Flower covers Tips on Growing Bells of Ireland
The Gardener’s Network covers How to Grow Bells of Ireland Plants
Grower Direct covers Bells of Ireland
Grow Veg covers Bells of Ireland Growing Guide
Johnny Seeds covers Bells of Ireland
Savvy Gardening covers Growing Bells of Ireland from Seed
Southern Living covers Bells of Ireland, Shell Flower
Swallowtail Garden Seeds covers Bells of Ireland Seeds, Shellflower
The Green Thumb 2.0 covers Bells of Ireland – Plant Them Once, Have Them Forever!
University of Wisconsin-Extension Master Gardener covers Bells of Ireland, Molucella laevis

Bells of Ireland is a classic summer-blooming plant, making it a perfect addition to your summer flower garden.

It’s simple to grow and has a sweet, vanilla-like scent. If you’re more adventurous, growing from Bells of Ireland seeds will give you the opportunity to enjoy this flower throughout its life cycle.

Let’s learn how to care for this gorgeous shellflower!

Recommended Products for Bells of Ireland Care:

  • Fox Farm Big Bloom Liquid Fertilizer
  • Safer Brand Insecticidal Soap
  • Hot Pepper Wax

Quick Care

Bells of Ireland is a great beginner flower to try in your ornamental garden. Source: sarowen

Scientific Name: Moluccella laevis
Common Name(s): Bells of Ireland, shellflower
Family: Lamiaceae
Origin: Turkey, Syria and Caucasus
Height & Spread: 3.5′ tall and 1′ wide
Sun: Full sun
Soil: Well-draining garden soil
Spacing 12″ apart
Water: Moderately moist at all times
Pests & Diseases: Leaf blight, crown rot, aphids, spider mites

Also known as shell flowers, Irish bell flowers have been in cultivation since the 16th century. Florists seem to love them due to how long they last in an arrangement, so you’ve probably seen these in a wedding flower arrangement before. On St. Patrick’s Day, you might also find these in bouquets at a flower shop.

Botanically known as Moluccella laevis, these plants are self-seeding, half-hardy annuals. Its scientific name refers to the Molucca islands that were once deemed as their place of origin. However, it was later found that Irish bell flowers are native to Turkey, Syria, and Caucasus.

They produces pale green to emerald green funnel-shaped bells along green stems in summer. Belonging to the mint family, you can be use the cut flowers in fresh and dried flower arrangements.

Moluccella laevis flowers close-up. Source: sarowen

Bells of Ireland grow well in cooler climates, so if you live in a moderate and lesser humid region, it’s an ideal plant for your summer flower garden.

Light & Temperature

It prefers full sun if possible, but only if that means it’s not exposed to too much heat and humidity. If you’re growing this in a warmer climate, I recommend planting in in an area of your garden that gets some shade cover from the hottest parts of the day.

Water

Moluccella laevis enjoys a moderate amount of water, but be sure to avoid overwatering. During the growing season, give it around 1″ of water per week. If you’re not sure when to water, poke a finger into the soil and see if it’s dry to 1-2″ inches. If so, you’re clear to give it another drink.

To make your life easier, put it on automated drip irrigation so it’s evenly moist all of the time.

Soil

Choose a planting site with good drainage and at least average soil. It doesn’t need extremely rich soil to do well. If you’re planting into native soil, work compost into the first 6-8″ of soil to improve it a bit before planting in.

Fertilizer

You can always mix in some organic fertilizer into your planting site before transplanting, but if you want to fertilize your plants throughout their growth, make sure to give them a drench throughout the summer.

I recommend an organic liquid plant feed to support their growth during their most prolific blooming phase.

Propagation

Growing Bells of Ireland from seed is the easiest way to propagate this gorgeous flower. Here’s a simple process:

  • Chill your seeds in the freezer before sowing to improve germination.
  • Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost in your region.
  • Transplant after your last frost when the ground is workable.

If you want a more hands-off approach, just let some of your flowers go to seed and they’ll naturally self-sow next season.

Pruning

There are no particular pruning needs for bells of Ireland plant as it is not an aggressive grower. However, if you don’t want the plant to exceed a certain height, or find the plant getting bushier than you like, you can always use gardening scissors to trim it down.

Harvesting

Once the green bells start showing up on the stems, you know it’s time to harvest for cut flowers. Remove all of the leaves from the lower part of the stem, as they’re older and likely to yellow quickly after harvesting. They’ll last up to two weeks in a vase in good conditions, so enjoy your bells!

Problems

Bells of Ireland plant is resistant to most diseases and pests. You may face some common problems that are discussed underneath.

Diseases and Growing Problems

If you see a yellowish halo appearing on the leaves, making them turn brown, it means your plant has developed leaf blight. The only way to get rid of this is to remove the affected part before the rest of the plant and garden gets infected.

Crown rot is when the plants wilt and die back at the soil line. Remove the affected plant and avoid growing it in the same place. Have the soil inspected before you start growing bells of Ireland in that area.

Pests

Aphids are most likely to start feeding on the undersides of the leaves. This makes them quite difficult to notice and you only locate them when they have damaged enough of your plant to hamper its growth. You need to remain vigilant, scanning the undersides every so often to keep a watchful eye.

If it is, wash the leaves by insecticidal soap or use a strong spray.

Little spider mites can suck your plant’s juices and replace chlorophyll with toxins. This will cause your plant to have a lacy, webbed appearance and yellow leaves. Use a hot pepper wax or high-quality insecticidal soap to deal with mites.

FAQs

Q. When do Bells of Ireland flowers appear?

A. Throughout the summer, with August being the most prolific month for flowers.

Q. Is Bells of Ireland deer resistant?

A. Yes! It’s both deer and rabbit resistant.

Q. Is Bells of Ireland actually from Ireland?

A. No, the plant is not from Ireland but is Turkey, Syria and Caucasus native. It is called Bells of Ireland for its color and the lucky symbolism of the bell shape.

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Learn About Bells Of Ireland

Cercospora Leaf Blight: Small flecks which develop a yellowish halo appear on the leaves and turn brown and coalesce. They can cause the leaves to wither and die. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants and destroy all plant debris.

Crown Rot: Plants wilt and die back at the soil line. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plants and do not plant in the same area.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

Bells of Ireland FAQs

Is Bells of Ireland deer resistant? Yes, it can be deer resistant, even rabbit resistant.

Can I grow Bells of Ireland in a container? Yes, you can grow it in a large container, especially smaller varieties such as Pixie Bells.

Does Bells of Ireland self-sow? Yes, it does tend to self-sow in the garden. Allow some flowers at the end of the season to dry on the plant.

Is Bells of Ireland really from Ireland? No, it recalls the Emerald Isle as a rare green flower in the garden (actually the flowers are tiny white flowers in the green bell shaped calyxes). It is native to Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus.

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