Bellflower

The bellflower blooms in many different colors and can grow up to four feet tall.
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Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Botanical name: Campanula sp.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8, depending on species

The genus Campanula contains about 300 species of annuals, biennials and perennials. Bellflower has attractive bell-shaped flowers that stand above the foliage. It generally comes in bloom colors of lavender, purple and blue, but other selections widen the color palette to white, pink and rose. Blooms in late spring to summer, depending on species and cultivar. This plant is mostly dependable in cooler climates. Plant size ranges from three to 48 inches and as wide, depending on species or cultivar.

How to use it: Best displayed in masses (of at least three plants or more) or in hanging baskets or containers (for the trailing types). Use in a mixed perennial border, rock garden, wildflower garden or informal, naturalized woodland border. May naturalize. Cutflower.

Culture: Prefers a well-drained site. Plant in full sun to partial shade. In areas that have hot summers, plant in partial shade. Some species can be floppy and may require staking. Divide plants every three to five years in early spring for best performance. Propagated through seed, cuttings or division. No serious insect or disease problems; snails and slugs can cause major problems with bellflower.

Special notes: Bellflower generally does not perform well in the South (from USDA Zone 6 on). It is a plant most suitable for northern climates, including the Midwest and the Great Plains. The term campanula in Latin means "little bell". Deer resistant. Warning: Some species of bellflower can become invasive.

Selected cultivars and species

  • Clustered bellflower (C. glomerata). This species performs well in the South when planted in a partially shaded site with a moist, well-drained soil. Tolerates a wet soil. Zones 3 to 8.

  • Peach-leaved bellflower (C. persicifolia). Looks best if planted in masses of at least three or more plants. Cutflower. Zones 3 to 7.

  • Carpathian bellflower (C. carpatica). One of the most widely used bellflowers. Compact plant only reaching nine to 12 inches tall. Prefers full sun and a well-draining site. Good for use as a groundcover along a border or for edging. Notable cultivars: 'Clips' series (which offer large blue or white flowers on six- to eight-inch tall plants) or 'Wedgewood' series (which offer white or blue flowers on six-inch plants). Zones 3 to 6(8).

  • Dwarf bellflower (C. cochlearifolia). Only reaches three to six inches tall and 15 inches wide. Used as a groundcover.

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