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How to Grow: Bellflower

How to Grow: Bellflower

This diverse group of perennial flowers ranges from creepers to tall garden flowers. What they all have in common is their bell- or saucer-shaped flowers. A classic cottage garden plant, bluebells create a fairy-like appearance with their nodding blooms alongside other colorful perennials. The flowers last for weeks in the garden and provide color in midsummer. Creeping varieties can be grown in front of flower borders or in rock gardens. Some strains have more tubular buds that offer a different variation. Butterflies and bees love the flowers and plants. The flower sprays are also beautiful additions to arrangements as cut flowers.

Where, when and how to plant

Bluebells are hardy in our region. The tiny seeds can be sown directly in the garden in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. You can also purchase transplants and plant in well-drained, fertile soil in spring to early fall. Grow bluebells in full sun. They will also flower in partial sun, especially in warmer parts of our region. Grow bluebell transplants or thin seedlings spaced 1 to 2 feet apart.

growing tips

Keep young plants well watered. Once established, the plants are drought tolerant. In spring, add a top dressing of compost as fertilizer and mulch with bark mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.

Regional advice and support

Bluebells are easy-care plants in our region. Bluebells spread. Divide some cultivars every 2 to 3 years in the spring to keep them flowering profusely and prevent them from spreading. Deadhead spent flowers from tall varieties to prolong the flowering period. Cutting back the tall flower stalks 1/3 after flowering sometimes stimulates new growth and reflowering later in summer and early fall. Watch out for aphids and snails eating the foliage. Spray insecticidal soap to control aphids and use iron phosphate baits, beer traps, or erect a copper barrier on raised beds to control snails and snails. Cut back and clean the foliage in the fall to prevent diseases from overwintering near the plants.

companion planting and design

Grow bluebells in a cottage garden planted with Siberian iris, columbine, roses and lady’s mantle. Creeping varieties can grow over rock faces or in rock gardens with Iberis and Sedum.

Try these

The peach-leaved bluebells come in colors like white, pink, or blue, cup-shaped flowers in 2 to 3 foot tall plants. The chimney bellflowers grow up to 6 feet tall in blue or white colors. They make excellent cut flowers. The Serbian bluebell grows less than 6 inches tall and spreads out with unusual, star-shaped blooms. Canterberry Bells are an old fashioned flower. They have white or blue flowers on 3 foot tall flower stalks.