Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland Overview

Description 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. 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
Common Name Bells of Ireland
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
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 Cut Flowers, Fragrance, Good for Containers
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.

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.

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