Like a tiny petunia on steroids, calibrachoa (also called Million Bells) grows and flowers at an amazing rate. These extremely vigorous plants make for colorful, cascading accents in containers or hanging baskets, along walkways, and on garden walls.
A recent newcomer to the retail plant world, calibrachoa has only been around since the early 1990s. That’s not long in plant years, especially with how far the plant has come since then. What started out as a simple, single-color bloom has transformed into a whole new class of plant that people enjoy adding to their gardens year after year.
Little trumpets of color, calibrachoa flowers play their fanfare day in and day out. With new developments in breeding, calibrachoa flowers now come in a rainbow of options, including yellow stars, speckled colors, veined and segmented petals, and sometimes combinations of all of the above. Plant calibrachoa in a sunny window box for extra curb appeal.
Much of the work that's gone into calibrachoa breeding has been to make these plants day-neutral. This means that they bloom all season, no matter how long or short the days are.
Calibrachoa Care Must-Knows
A fairly low-growing plant, calibrachoa doesn't typically get much taller than 4 inches. Its spread is what draws attention: Some plants can extend over 2 feet of ground in no time. If you're looking to quickly fill a container or hanging basket, this plant is up to the task! Calibrachoa also does well when mixed with other plants or tucked into the front of a border, where it can spill out onto sidewalks or patios.
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One thing to note about calibrachoa: Since it's such a fast grower, the plant requires a decent amount of food and will let you know if it needs to eat. Sensitive to low amounts of nitrogen, calibrachoa turns yellow when it needs to be fed. So if your plants look a little golden, it's time to give them a nice dose of fertilizer.
Calibrachoa also does a pretty good job of "burying their dead"; meaning they grow so fast, they quickly cover over any old blossoms. This is a plus for low-maintenance gardeners, as there's no need to manually remove dead growth.
Recently, there's been some interesting work being done with calibrachoa plants. An example is the creation of the "petchoa": a cross between a petunia, a close relative, and the calibrachoa. This new hybrid looks a lot like you might expect, considering its parents: A giant, flowering plant with a mounded habit. The best of both worlds.
More Varieties of Calibrachoa
'Cabaret Hot Pink' Calibrachoa
Cabaret Hot Pink Calibrachoa bears multitudes of bright pink flowers on trailing stems to 8 inches.
'Cabaret Purple Glow' Calibrachoa
Cabaret Purple Glow Calibrachoa is a trailing selection to 8 inches that tolerates part shade. It grows 12 inches wide.
'Can-Can Mocha' Calibrachoa
Can-Can Mocha Calibrachoa offers creamy flowers with a chocolate-purple throat. It has a mounding-trailing habit and grows 15 inches tall and wide.
'Colorbust Chocolate' Calibrachoa
Calibrachoa 'Colorburst Chocolate' is a compact, mounding selection to 8 inches that offers burgundy blooms blushed with chocolate-brown.
'Million Bells Terra Cotta' Calibrachoa
Million Bells Terra Cotta Calibrachoa offers orange flowers streaked with shades of red and gold on trailing stems to 8 inches.
'Million Bells Coral' Calibrachoa
Million Bells Coral Calibrachoa offers lots of coral-pink flowers on trailing stems to 8 inches.
'MiniFamous Compact Dark Red' Calibrachoa
MiniFamous Compact Dark Red Calibrachoa produces rich red flowers on a compact 8-inch trailing plant.
'Minifamous Double Blue' Calibrachoa
MiniFamous Double Blue Calibrachoa shows off fully double velvety-blue flowers on a trailing plant with 10-inch-long stems.
'Minifamous Double Blush' Calibrachoa
MiniFamous Double Blush Calibrachoa bears gorgeous double pink flowers on a vigorous trailing plant with 10-inch-long stems.
'Minifamous Double Pink' Calibrachoa
MiniFamous Double Pink Calibrachoa produces double pink flowers on a plant that trails to 10 inches.
'Minifamous Double Yellow' Calibrachoa
MiniFamous Double Yellow Calibrachoa produces intricate double flowers on a vigorous plant that trails to 10 inches.
'MiniFamous Sun Violet Veins' Calibrachoa
MiniFamous Sun Violet Veins Calibrachoa bears soft blue flowers with violet-purple netting on a vigorous plant that trails to 10 inches.
'Minifamous Tangerine' Calibrachoa
MiniFamous Tangerine Calibrachoa offers soft yellow flowers with orange markings on a vigorous plant that trails to 8 inches.
'Superbells Blackberry Punch' Calibrachoa
Blooms of the 'Superbells Blackberry Punch' feature a deep raspberry-red outline with an almost black center.
'Superbells Blue' Calibrachoa
Superbells Blue Calibrachoa is a floriferous variety with loads of violet-blue flowers on trailing 8-inch stems.
'Superbells Cherry Star' Calibrachoa
Calibrachoa hybrid. One of the first calibrachoa varieties to sport the bright yellow star pattern in the center, this particular series showcases a cherry-colored backdrop.
'Superbells Dreamsicle' Calibrachoa
Superbells Dreamsicle Calibrachoa is a vigorous variety that shows off creamy orange flowers on a plant that trails to 4 feet or more.
'Superbells Lavender' Calibrachoa
Superbells Lavender Calibrachoa bears an abundance of lavender flowers on trailing 36-inch-long stems.
'Superbells Peach' Calibrachoa
Superbells Peach Calibrachoa offers salmon-orange blooms with a darker throat. It holds up well to rainy weather and trails to 30 inches.
'Superbells Saffron' Calibrachoa
Superbells Saffron Calibrachoa bears yellow flowers with a red-orange throat. It trails to 36 inches.
'Superbells Scarlet' Calibrachoa
Superbells Scarlet Calibrachoa bears bold scarlet-red flowers on a vigorous plant that trails to 48 inches.
'Superbells Tequila Sunrise' Calibrachoa
Superbells Tequila Sunrise Calibrachoa produces a plethora of orange flowers with yellow streaks. This vigorous variety can trail to 48 inches.
'Superbells Trailing Lilac Mist' Calibrachoa
Superbells Trailing Lilac Mist Calibrachoa bears lots of cream flowers with dark blue veins and has better heat- and drought-tolerance than most. It trails to 4 feet.
'Superbells Yellow Chiffon' Calibrachoa
Superbells Yellow Chiffon Calibrachoa produces soft yellow flowers on a floriferous plant that trails to 48 inches.
'Superbells Yellow' Calibrachoa
Superbells Yellow Calibrachoa features large, clear yellow flowers and a low, trailing habit. It trails to 48 inches.
Calibrachoa Companion Plants
Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and once you get a good look at it, you'll know why. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach 1-2 feet tall studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long with spikes of blooms. While all varieties are beautiful, the sweetly scented selections offer an added bonus. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can keep it flowering all winter.
Exciting new selections with incredible foliage patterns have put coralbells on the map. Previously enjoyed mainly for their spires of dainty reddish flowers, coralbells are now grown as much for the unusual mottling and veining of different-color leaves. The low clumps of long-stemmed evergreen or semi-evergreen lobed foliage make coralbells fine groundcover plants. They enjoy humus-rich, moisture-retaining soil. Beware of heaving in areas with very cold winters.
These vigorous growers are beautiful additions to the garden. They vary from tall, stately plants suitable for borders to others that can be planted as creeping groundcovers. Flowers, too, vary from tight spikes of 1/2-inch to 1-inch cups carried alone or in whorls. Humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil is recommended; some varieties enjoy wet soil and ample water. Several sorts may become invasive and need to be corralled. Note: These are not the invasive purple loosestrife, which has been banned in many parts of the United States.