Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Campanula

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Campanula, blooming groundcovers, nodding bells or full clusters, easy blooms all summer

Campanula genera includes over 500 species and subspecies with one thing in common, bell shaped flowers.  There are annuals, biennials and perennials.  Size, shape and form vary dramatically, but the blooms are usually blue, lavender or white.  The shades of blue and lavender include many that are more pink than purple or lavender.  Most species require full sun in the north, afternoon shade in the south, and moist well drained soil.  The perennial species propagate by division and/or self seeding, some spreading by seed rather aggressively.

 

Campanula carpatica ‘White Clips’ / ‘Blue Clips’Campanula White Clips by TOG

  • Common Name: Bellflower, Harebell, Carpathian Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  8-10”
  • Spread:  12-24”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Will tolerate average soil, and clay if well drained.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Compact and mounded, spreading
  • Bloom Time: Early summer to frost
  • Bloom Color: White or blue
  • Bloom Form:  Upward facing cup shaped bellsCampanula 'Blue Clips' by TOG
  • Foliage:  Tiny heart shaped green leaves in a dense mound
  • Fragrance: 
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant.  May occasionally be bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Feed regularly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years to maintain plant health.
  • Other: 
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-9

The ‘Clips’, also known as ‘Chips’ variety of campanula are available in both blue and white.  The white is a crisp snow white, the blue generally soft sky blue, but color variations ranging from sky blue to blue violet do occur.  The flowers are upward facing bells produced in profusion through July and August.  Deadhead the spent blooms and an additional light flush of blooms will be produced, continuing until frost.  Deadheading will also minimize self seeding.Campanula 'Clips' foliage by TOG

‘Blue Clips’ and ‘White Clips’ form a dense carpet, spreading by seed.  The blue self seeds aggressively, the white does not seem to reproduce by seed much at all.  Lovely foliage of heart shaped leaves emerges early, tolerating frosts and cool soil.  These are excellent for a perennial edging, groundcover or rock garden.  For a groundcover plant as much as 2-3 feet apart, the plants will spread and seed to fill in.  Both may also be propagated by division in spring or fall.

Full sun is preferred, but will do fine in part shade.  Afternoon shade will be appreciated in hot zones.  These Campanula do especially well in the midwest and north, where nights are cool in summer.  ‘Blue Clips’ and ‘White Clips’ are very adaptable, but will not do well in very dry or very wet soil.

 

Campanula carpatica var. turbinata ‘Pearl Deep Blue’
Campanula 'Pearl Deep Blue' by the 1 pony

  • Common Name: Bellflower, Harebell, Carpathian Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  6-12”
  • Spread:  9-12”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to part shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs.  Prefers consistently moist but not wet soil.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, uniformly moist, well drained soil.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Compact and mounded, spreading
  • Bloom Time: June through August
  • Bloom Color: Blue violet with pale centers
  • Bloom Form:  Upward facing, 2” bowl shaped bells that open widely, curling back the petal edges.
  • Foliage:  Small green leaves in a dense mound
  • Fragrance:  None noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant.  May occasionally be bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Feed regularly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years to maintain plant health.
  • Other:  Attracts hummingbirds
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Pearl Deep Blue’ forms mounded, uniform clumps.  This cultivar is an improvement on the older ‘Clips’ series campanula, with larger blooms and a neater foliage mound.  Blooming begins about 2 or 3 weeks ahead of other C. carpatica perennials.  The primary bloom period is usually through July, and will persist until frost with regular deadheading.  Deadheading will also help minimize self seeding.  Keep soil consistently moist, but do not over water.

Where summers are not too hot, blooming will persist all summer through fall.  Afternoon shade will benefit the plant and the blooms in warmer regions.  ‘Pearl Deep Blue’ will tolerate summer heat stress a bit better than the similar cultivars.  Deadhead to encourage continued blooming.  Summer mulch is important to keep the roots cool.  General performance of ‘Pearl Deep Blue’ is best where summer nights are cool.  May be hardy all the way to zone 2.  ‘Pearl Deep Blue’ is perfect as an edging plant, accent plant, in masses or in a rock garden.

 

Campanula ‘Samantha’
Campanula 'Samantha' by beautiful cataya

  • Common Name: Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  4-8”
  • Spread:  10-16”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to part shade
  • Water Requirements:  Requires regular watering maintaining consistently moist soil.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Will tolerate average soil, and clay if well drained.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Compact and mounded, spreading
  • Bloom Time: Late spring through summer.
  • Bloom Color: Lavender blue
  • Bloom Form:  Upward facing 1” cup shaped bells on short spraysCampanula 'Samantha' by Yael Lew
  • Foliage:  Tiny heart shaped green leaves in a dense mound
  • Fragrance:  Rich pleasant scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant.  May occasionally be bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Feed regularly with a balanced liquid fertilizer beginning in early spring.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years in spring or fall to maintain plant health.
  • Other: 
  • Hardiness:  Zones 4-9

‘Samantha’ blooms are lavender blue with the color fading toward the center of each blossom to create a nearly white eye.  Unlike the ‘Clips’ series, the blooms are wonderfully fragrant, beginning its’ bloom season around the end of May and lasting for several weeks.  Remove spent blooms by shearing to encourage a second sporadic flush of blooms.  This Campanula is a reliable performer and easy to care for.

In cool regions ‘Samantha’ will do quite well in full sun.  Afternoon shade will be beneficial in hotter southern zones.  Although hardiness is often listed to zone 5, it seems to have proven reliable in zone 4 also.

‘Samantha’ forms a dense mat excellent for groundcovers, edging, rock gardens or containers.  It does not spread as aggressively as many of the bellflowers.  The foliage is short and dense, and the bloom stems are shorter than the ‘Clips’ bellflowers, so the plant remains neater in appearance both when in bloom and as the blooms fade.  Overall much better behaved than the ‘Clips’ series.  ‘Samantha’ can be expected to live about 5 years. Division can prolong the life in your gardens by replanting divisions.

 

Campanula poscharskyana x portenschlagiana ‘Birch Hybrid’
Campanula 'Birch Hybrid'

  • Common Name: Birch’s Bellflower, Siberian Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  6-8”
  • Spread:  12-20”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to half shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs, prefers consistently moist soil.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Will tolerate average soil, and clay if well drained.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Compact and mounded, spreading with trailing stems
  • Bloom Time: June through August
  • Bloom Color: Lavender blue
  • Bloom Form:  Upward facing open cup shaped bells
  • Foliage:  Small, dark green, toothed leaves
  • Fragrance:  None
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  May occasionally be bothered by powdery mildew, slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Feed once or twice during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years in spring or fall to maintain plant health.
  • Other:  Attracts hummingbirds
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Birch Hybrid’ is a dwarf Campanula that forms a neat spreading mound covered with showy flowers from spring through summer.  The blue violet blooms are borne on 8 inch arching stems, slightly nodding the blooms.  Fine foliage remains fresh throughout the season, and in warmer climates may remain green through much of winter.  Deadheading will encourage additional blooming.

‘Birch Hybrid’ forms a spreading mat with underground rhizomes, but does not spread aggressively.  This is an excellent selection for groundcover, rock gardens, set between pavers and flagstones, and edging, and will stand up to light foot traffic.  It is also wonderful spilling over the edge of a container, tub or landscape wall.  ‘Birch Hybrid’ can be expected to live about 5 years, its’ life in your garden can be extended by dividing and replanting the divisions.

 

Campanula medium ‘Canterbury Bells’
Campanula Canterbury Bells by geekygirlnyc

  • Common Name: Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  24-36”
  • Spread:  12-24”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to light shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs, prefers consistently moist soil.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Will tolerate average soil, and clay if well drained.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright, pyramidal
  • Bloom Time: May through July
  • Bloom Color: Blues, pinks and white
  • Bloom Form:  Cup shaped bells, slightly nodding
  • Foliage:  Elliptical and toothed
  • Fragrance:  None noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant.  May occasionally be bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Feed in early spring, then every 6-8 weeks through the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years to maintain plant health.
  • Other: 
  • Hardiness:  Zones 4-8Campanula medium 'Canterbury Bells' by TANAKA

‘Canterbury Bells’ are actually a biennial rather than a perennial.  However the behavior of a biennial, once established, is functionally similar to a perennial.  The first year, the plant only produces foliage.   The second year the plant blooms, then produces seeds for the following year.  Once established, new plants are consistently developing while the old plants bloom.  After seeding the plant dies.  ‘Canterbury Bells’ are easily started from seed in late summer or early autumn, or in spring or early summer.

The reddish stems of ‘Canterbury Bells’ are strong and erect.   If grown in too much shade, the stems may become weak and need staking.  Leaves are elliptical and serrated, up to 5 inches at the base of the stem, progressively smaller toward the top.  Blooms are produced from the top two thirds of the stalks.  Blooms are borne on short stalks and are very long lasting. May also need staking if planted in a windy site.

Campanula medium ‘Calycanthema’ by Tivon MaIf blooms are deadheaded, the bloom season will be prolonged, but the plant then may not seed.  Allow the last blooms to remain on the plant, and perhaps a few seeds may drop for next year.  But ‘Canterbury Bells’ don’t always seed reliably, and so may die out of the garden.  After seeds have dropped or been collected from the first flush of blooms, cut back about the top third or half of the foliage to force fresh leaves and the next batch of flowers.  When seeding, do not cover the seeds, they need light to germinate.  For biennel propagation, sow seeds in July or August.

There are several variants of C. medium.  ‘Calycanthema’ Cup and Saucer Canterbury Bells, have two rows of petals, one forming the “cup: the other forming the “saucer”.  The blooms are very large.  There are also cultivars of specific single color such as ‘Rose Canterbury Bell” and ‘Champion Blue’. 

‘Canterbury Bells’ are lovely in a vase, grouped in perennial beds, or containers.  They create a wonderful cottage garden look and blend easily with other plants and perennials.  A very striking old fashioned perennial.

 

Campanula ‘Sarastro’
Campanula 'Sarastro' by Wally Grom

  • Common Name: Bellflower, Harebell, Carpathian Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  15-20”
  • Spread:  15-20”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to light shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Will tolerate average soil, and clay if well drained.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Compact and upright, spreading
  • Bloom Time: June into August
  • Bloom Color: Deep purple blue
  • Bloom Form:  Large 2-2 1/2” tubular bells, downward facing
  • Foliage:  Large medium green leaves
  • Fragrance:  Mild fragrance
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  May occasionally be bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Feed regularly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years in spring to maintain plant health.
  • Other:  Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-9
Campanula Sarastro by Wally Grom

‘Sarastro’ has a slow spreading habit compared to the Campanula punctata and is much easier to control in the garden.  Although very similar to ‘Kent Bells’, ‘Sarastro’ is not quite as tall, more compact, and slower to spread.  Blooms are produced on 18” strong stems in late spring.  The bells are large and pendulous in dark purple tubular bells. The overall height of the plant in bloom often reaches 20-26” and can eventually get as wide.  Snip off spent flower stalks to encourage rebloom and minimize self seeding.  In hot zones afternoon shade will benefit the plant.  Full sun may also fade the bloom color somewhat.

The intense color of ‘Sarastro’ blooms are perfect planted in groups in perennial borders and as an accent to landscape accessories and structures. Pairs beautifully with orange and perfect in a blue and white garden.   Also great in a container and makes a lovely cut flower.  ‘Sarastro’ is a little bit of a slow starter, requiring a year or two to establish and produce strong vigorous growth with floriferous blooming.

Campanula x ‘Kent Belle’
Campanula x 'Kent Belle'

  • Common Name: Bellflower, Harebell, Carpathian Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  28-36”
  • Spread:  24-30”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to dappled shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Will tolerate average soil, and clay if well drained.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright and spreading
  • Bloom Time: June into July
  • Bloom Color: Violet, spotting inside
  • Bloom Form:  Long t2” tubular bells, downward facing
  • Foliage:  Large glossy, medium green leaves, toothed, up to 5” long
  • Fragrance:  None noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant.  May occasionally be bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Feed regularly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide in spring every 3-4 years to maintain plant health.
  • Other:  Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-9

‘Kent Belle’ has an upright form that spreads by underground rhizomes but does not seed. It spreads moderately aggressively, so give it some room.  ‘Kent Belle’ will easily naturalize.  ‘Kent Belle’ is one of the tallest and largest overall Campanula and may require staking in open sites.  If a better behaved and more compact plant is desired, try ‘Sarsastro’ instead. The blooms are held on strong, slightly arching stems.  Remove stems when blooms are spent to encourage rebloom.  Foliage is pleasing when out of bloom and remains dense to the ground.  ‘Kent Belle’ can be expected to live 5 years or more.  Divide in spring to propagate new young plants and maintain vigor and bloom quality.  This is a tough and easy to grow perennial, and tolerates urban conditions.

‘Kent Belle’ will benefit from afternoon shade in hot zones.  Full sun may fade bloom color.  ‘Kent Belle’ is stunning in bloom.  Woodland gardens or back of an informal perennial border are great sites for these bold blooms.  Wonderful in a vase paired with vivid orange blooms or upright white blooms.

 

Campanula punctata ‘Cherry Bells’
Campanula 'Cherry Bells' by john Brandauer1

  • Common Name: Bellflower, Spotted Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  24-30”
  • Spread:  24-36”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to half shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs, requires consistently moist soil.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright and spreading.
  • Bloom Time: Late May or early June through July, sporadically until frost
  • Bloom Color: Cherry red bells edged in white and spotted red-purple inside, on 2-3’ stems
  • Bloom Form:  Large 2: tubular bells, downward facingCampanula 'Cherry Bells' by dogtooth
  • Foliage:  Large medium green leaves up to 5”, rounded and toothed.
  • Fragrance:  None noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant.
  • Fertilize:  Feed once or twice through the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years to maintain plant health and reduce crowding.
  • Other:  Attracts hummingbirds
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘’Cherry Bells’ blooms heavily through June and may continue up until the first frost.  Blooms are borne on long arching, leafy stems.  After the first flush of blooms, fresh leaves and sporadic blooms are produced by about September.  The foliage of this Campanula remains quite lovely and fresh through the season.  The early spring leaves can be tossed into a salad.  ‘Cherry Bells’ flourishes with consistent moisture and part shade. A particularly dry period without supplemental water may kill the plant.   Afternoon shade is particularly beneficial in hot zones, where it will do quite well in quite a bit of shade.  Bloom color may also fade in too much sun.  In Northern zones it can handle a much more sun.

Cherry Bells’ can spread quite rapidly into a dense groundcover, spreading by underground rhizomes as well as self seeding. Division may be required every three years to control overcrowding.  Remnants of rhizomes will generally produce new plants, so it is difficult to move out of a site completely.  Cut blooms for fresh arrangements and deadhead spent blooms promptly to minimize seeding and encourage additional blooming.  Give ‘Cherry Bells’ plenty of room to spread.  When planted in a woodland garden or perennial border, it does not spread outside the moist fertile area provided for it.  It is quite stunning in full bloom when the plants have multiplied and spread.

 

Campanula glomerata ‘Joan Elliott’
Campanula 'Joan Elliot' by M. Charlotte

  • Common Name: Bellflower, Clustered Bellflower
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  15-18”
  • Spread:  12-18”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to part shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs, prefers consistently moist soil.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers a rich, well drained soil.  Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright and spreading
  • Bloom Time: June through August
  • Bloom Color: Blue violet
  • Bloom Form:  Upward facing cup shaped bells borne in clusters
  • Foliage:  Large green leaves at base, diminishing in size rising up the stem.  Ovate and toothed.
  • Fragrance:  None noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant.
  • Fertilize:  Feed once or twice during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading for continuous bloom.  Divide every 3-4 years to maintain plant health.
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Joan Elliott’ produces luxurious clusters of deep blue violet bells on top of strong short stems.  The bloom cluster forms a rounded head, dense with bell shaped blooms.  Occasionally bloom clusters will appear further down the stem.  Primary blooming continues from June through August , with sporadic blooming until frost.

‘Joan Elliott’ prefers a bit more sun than many of the Campanula, but will still benefit from afternoon shade in hot zones.  In northern zones full sun is fine.  The plant will grow strongly upright in full sun, may lean to the light in shade.  Division every three or four years is necessary to maintain vigorous growth and strong blooming.  ‘Joan Elliott’ is pretty hardy and may do well in zone 3 if provided with deep winter mulch.

‘Joan Elliott’ blooms are stunning in a vase and the flowers can last up to 2 weeks.  Cutting for arrangements and deadheading spent blooms will help minimize self seeding.  However ‘Joan Elliott’ is not a particularly aggressive spreader or seeder.

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