Campanula – BellFlower – Canterbury Bells

Campanula is a group of endearing plants offering something to everyone, from beginning gardener, to rock-garden specialist, to house-plant hobbyist. Among the most rewarding campanulas are those that tumble myriads of starry saucer-flowers in celestial white or campanula-blue from pots, hanging baskets, and containers.

Hardy Garden Perennials

These are mainly hardy garden perennials with branched and trailing stems, but some are grown in indoor pots and baskets because they come into flower in late summer, fall, and early winter, when they might be killed back outdoors.

These were a frequent, but too spectacular to be common, sight in old country kitchens, where the temperature seldom soared above 70 degrees except on weekly baking day, and pump water ran icy into the sink.

Since then, central heating has made us more comfortable, but has banished garden plants like these to a cool porch or greenhouse.

But the plants are so utterly charming, they’re well worth any effort to provide good growing conditions – so that you can have flower-filled baskets to bring into the living-room window, or flower-covered pots to use as centerpieces or in table-top compositions.

Campanula Isophylla

Campanula Care – Temperature, Light, Water & Soil

Thriftiest growth is produced in temperatures around 65 degrees. Sunshine produces the most bountiful flower display – with some shade against noonday heat in tropical areas.

Campanula plant care consist of the need of constant moisture during the active growing season, and a rich, light soil mixture. Add lime if the soil is acid.

Although these campanulas seldom stop growing entirely, they do rest after the flowering period. At that time, cut off old flowering branches at the base, to make room for new shoots already poking up their heads.

For a month or two, keep the pot or basket in a cool, sunny spot with less water than usual. In January or February, repot – or refurbish the soil in the old pot – and resume regular watering and fertilizing (liquid feeding is good).

From then until early summer, pinch out branch tips to encourage fuller growth and more flowering stems. Increase fertilizer rations during flowering time; and keep faded blooms picked off so the plant won’t use its energy to set seeds.

Mature plants are increased by division during or immediately after semidormancy. Basal stem cuttings of semihardened wood will root with less risk than soft, new growing tips.

Campanula Medium – Canterbury Bells Care – Q & A

Question: Last year my Canterbury Bells got of to a slow start and did not bloom this year. They are now beautiful plants. Are they likely to bloom next year or should I pull them out? – RG. Wyckoff, NY.

Answer: If your large plants go safely through the winter, they should make a fine showing next year.

Question: I planted canterbury bells from seed in the spring of 2009. They developed into fine healthy plants, overwintered well and now are large healthy looking plants but have never shown any sign of blooming.

Can you tell me why? Will they overwinter another season? IK, Minnesota.

Answer: Campanula Medium is the bellflower usually called canterbury bells. It is a biennial and blooms on the second year’s growth, then dies.

Apparently your plants have not completed the cycle of growth necessary to bring them to bloom. They should persist over winter and come to bloom next year, then die.

Question: Last spring I planted canterbury bells, but they didn’t bloom. Should I have taken them up for winter? How should I care for them to produce bloom?

Answer: Canterbury bells (Campanula medium) are biennials. They require two growing seasons to come into bloom. Some varieties are difficult to winter over unless stored in a cold frame.

However, most will survive the winter protected only by their own foliage or with a little coarse litter, such as dead flower stems. The plants grown last season, by next June, should be among the most showy plants in the flower garden.

A light application of plant food after they start growing in the spring will produce a more vigorous growth and increase the size of the flowers.

Campanula Plant Varieties

Among the varieties generally grown in pots or baskets my favorites are those with large, single star-flowers like a flattened platycodon. The doubles are fully double, like baby roses, but not nearly so pristine.

Campanula elatines – A slender, spreading plant with stems turning up at the tip. As far as I know, the single, azure-flowering species is not often available. The variety alba plena has double white flowers; fore pleno, double blue. Both flower from July through fall.

Campanula fragilis – A true trailer, flowering earlier (July-August) with cupped porcelain-blue starry platters.

Campanula isophylla – Single blue star of Bethlehem. Cascades of inch-wide star flowers appear in spurts from midsummer through the holiday season.

Campanula elatines garganica – Usually flowers in June, violet-blue against fuzzy dark-green leaves.


Campanula muralis (correctly portenschlagiana) Open bell-shaped flowers in late spring.

Campanula poscharskyana – Rampant and evergreen in mild climates, with showers of lavender flowers at intervals all summer.
It makes a good ground cover.

Neat, toothed, heart-shaped leaves are smothered by showy purple, starry flowers in early Summer. It does well in part shade or shade.

Campanula rotundifolia – Beloved bluebell of Scotland, a well-branched trailer that dangles loose clusters of blue flowers off and on from summer into early fall.

Family: Campanulaceae
Common Name: Bellflower, Star of Bethlehem, Falling Star, Harebell

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