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Growing Bells of Ireland Flowers | Flower Patch | North American Farmer

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Growing Bells of Ireland Flowers

About Bells of Ireland: Enjoy Shellflower's Simplistic Beauty, Spicy Fragrance and Elegant Stature

by Frances Santos

Bells Of Ireland flowersBells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis), also called “shellflower” produce bell-shaped blooms that are arranged vertically on a stalk, along with luscious pale to emerald green leaves.

Interestingly, these white-veined green bells are not really flowers, but are calyxes. They merely clothe the tiny, white flowers found within.

Bells of Ireland are a member of the mint family and endowed with pleasant fragrance. Did they come from Ireland? No. Moluccella laevis is named after the Molucca Islands in Indonesia. These plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall.

Bells of Ireland flowers are one of the favorite flowers of many gardeners and landscapers. In weddings, Bells of Ireland flowers are widely used in bouquet arrangements. Florists love them too because they do wonderfully in floral arrangements and are prized as dried flowers especially in winter arrangements.

When exhibited in a mixed centerpiece, Bells of Ireland will definitely catch your eye. They are also often used in St. Patrick’s Day decorations since bells symbolize good luck.

If you are eyeing for a decorative flower with simplistic beauty and elegant stature, Bells of Ireland tick all the right boxes.

Bells of Ireland Propagation

Bells of Ireland are propagated by seed. Start the seeds indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date in your area. You may also want to give the seeds a “cold spell” first to help them germinate more effectively. Place the seeds in a plastic bag with soil, and then store them in the refrigerator for 14 days.

Scatter the seeds on a planting dish filled with soil and then dust lightly with a layer of soil. Do not bury the seeds. Keep the dish/flat in a very cool, dry place at around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Bells of Ireland seeds need light to germinate so choose a sunny location then substitute the light with a grow light if necessary. The seeds take about 3-5 weeks to germinate.

After all the danger of frost has passed, it’s time to transplant the seedlings outdoors. It’s best to transplant them in the spring, when the weather is still cool. Bells of Ireland are quite difficult to transplant so scout out a permanent sight with full sun and compost-rich, well-drained soil. Planting them in containers is also recommended. Set the seedlings about 12 to 16 inches apart. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Wet soil causes a disease called crown rot. Mulch the soil around the plants.

How to Grow Bells of Ireland Flowers

Bells of Ireland are best planted near a wall or trellis for support from the wind. Inserting stakes next to the plants and/or tying them to the stake is well recommended to prevent toppling over in the wind.

Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water the plants deeply, especially in hot, dry weather. Deep watering helps with the formation of good root mass. Remember, Bells of Ireland grow tall and they will need a sturdy foundation.

Fertilize using a slow-release fertilizer or plenty of compost at planting time and every 4 to 6 months thereafter. It’s best to start fertilizing in mid-May, since the soil has warmed up already to absorb the nutrients.

Once the flowers fade after fall, they will not blossom again. Discard the dead plants and collect the seeds which you can germinate the following year. Wrap the seeds in a moist paper towel and place it in a sealed plastic bag. Let it sit in the refrigerator for two months. Repeat the entire process.