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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean

Bellflowers

Beautiful plants for that shady little nook!

Botanical Name: Campanula punctata Common Name: Bellflower Family: Campanulaceae Description: The Campanula genus, which includes more than 300 annuals, perennials, and biennials has become one of the most popular and identifiable genera in the United States. Plants vary greatly in habit: clump-forming, spreading and trailing or tall and erect. Flowers range from star shaped to bell shaped to tubular.

Campanula punctata is a two to three foot clump form with creeping rhizomes and rosettes of light green toothed leaves. The flowers are a real prize – two inch long pale rose bells to tubular shaped flowers. The most common variety of C. punctata is aptly known as cherry bells, with their nodding, tubular flowers. The exteriors range in color from the palest milk rose to a bright cherry red, with the bottoms usually dusted and the slightly hairy interiors speckled with pink, cherry, or bright red dots.

Campanula incurva is a bit of a rarity but worth finding. Like its' more famous cousin, Canterbury bells, it is a biennial, meaning that you'll have to wait an extra year for it to flower. When it flowers, you'll be in for a real treat – large ice-blue bell shaped flowers unlike those of any other species in this family. Seeing C. incurva is likely to bring joy. Their large, white bells frosted with the palest or deepest lilac are a wonder to see. Even the buds are fascinating, looking like rosy-tipped, Turkish turbans.

Hummingbirds love the hue and tubular flowers of the Campanula. The species is native to Asia, where it grows under trees on forested hillsides. In Japan, it is called hotar ubukuro, roughly translated as "bag with fireflies inside". Given its basal leaves and upright habit, it allows its' flowers to dangle naturally. It's no wonder that this species has become a star in the Campanula universe.

Cultivation: Grow in fertile, moist, well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in sun or some shade. Protected in scorching sun, C. punctata will thrive in fertile, sandy loam.

Propagation: Rhizomes can be divided, so share this delightful species with others.

Common Problems: Slugs, snails, spiders, mites and aphids can be a problem. Susceptible to powder mildew, with proper drainage and an open habitat, many of the dangers can be minimized.

Plant sources: Campanula punctata is usually found in gallon sizes in nurseries starting in early spring. It can be ordered from www.waysidegardens.com. Seeds are available at www.gardenmaker.com. Four inch pots from www.anniesannuals.com. Seeds can be ordered from www.seedsthompson-morgan.com.

Submitted by Master Gardener Sue Brown, 2007.