It is once again Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time, and I have nothing blooming in the garden. Well I am sure something is growing under all the snow, but I won’t see it for a couple more weeks. So I thought I would post about a flower I really love. OK before we start let me say this is a love-hate kind of post. I love these flowers, really I do, but …oh well you will see as you read on. A flower by any other name…ahhh they look so innocent and lovely…beautiful bell shaped flowers perfect for a cottage garden. And they are innocent as long as you are growing the native variety of campanula. I am not a purest with natives at this point, but I try to make sure I am a good steward of the land. I am like many everyday gardeners who sometimes didn’t know any better, but as I learn I try to pass on information from which you will have to make your own decisions.
Native or non-native, they are all part of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae), happy in zones 3-8 and they come from many parts of the world.
First, let’s go through the native varieties which I do not have right now in my garden. Therefore, many of the photos are from other websites.
Campanula rotundifolia or Harebell is a native of the northeast and midwest US. This delicate plant loves the sun and will grow in dry to moist soil. It can be found in the wild in rocky soil. Experts say it is easy to grow, and we gardeners can grow this in our gardens if aggressive plants do not interfere with it. So I will be scouting this one out, and finding a nice spot in my garden to nurture it.
Then there is Campanula americana, American Bellflower or Tall Bellflower. It is also a native that I discovered, and I hope to seed it in the meadow because it is taller growing up to 6 feet. It also has beautiful blue bell-shaped flowers that spread open when in full bloom. It is more tolerant of shade but prefers a richer soil. I know just the spot for it in the meadow near and under the tree. I am ordering the seed as we speak.
Now the non-natives are not entirely horrible as long as you are aware of the risks going in. I feel it is always better to have natives if you can first, then owning some non-natives usually isn’t that bad. Of course this depends on the non-native plant. And to be a good steward of the land, you really need to make sure you do not plant these non-natives in meadows or in woods or along the edge of woods because then they will invade the native habitat, and could become a problem for native plants.
One of the more popular campanulas that are sold in nurseries, big box stores and online is Campanula carpatica. It is used in edgings and is a wonderful little plant if you have it in a container or a walled-in bed. But I made the mistake of planting as an edging along my brick walk. And even though it is growing in hot, dry sun (it prefers some shade and moist conditions), the plant has spread all over the bed out front, into the lawn and into the brick walk. I am having a fun time pulling it out constantly to keep it at bay. So live and learn with this little beauty. I would consider it extremely invasive and one to be careful of.
Then there is Campanula rapunculoides or creeping bellflower which can be very aggressive or invasive depending on your definition…try getting rid of it once established…problem is it looks like Ladybells (Adenophora liliifolia) another aggressive plant given the right conditions. This plant should be avoided in many areas of the US.
While many of these non-native bellflowers can be unruly and aggressive, I will introduce you to a few non-native hybrids I do own that I love. They enjoy part sun to full sun and are especially happy in normal to moist soil. Remember these are a ground cover type of plant and will spread nicely in your garden if that is what you want.
Campanula punctata ‘Pantaloons’ and Campanula ‘Pink Octopus’ both grow in zones 5-9, and get about a foot high and 2 feet wide. The big draw for hummers is the fragrance. The flowers of both of these are so unusual. I love how they look in drifts, and they draw me in so much so I have to own them. I have ‘Pink Octopus’ planted along the patio and it has softened the edges beautifully. Then I have both planted in certain areas within my backyard fenced gardens. They are great ground covers for my cottage gardens filling in areas beautifully.
There’s a wonderful meme, Blooming Friday, hosted by Katrina at Roses and Stuff you should check out. This Friday’s theme is called Feeling Blue. I’d say these lovely flowers will perk you up with their blue colors.
Special Note:With any of the non-native campanulas, do not discard any parts of these plants into a meadow or wooded area. They will easily take root and grow aggressively taking over areas where native plants are trying to grow. (I felt this needed repeating)
In the Language of Flowers:Campanula or Bellflower means constancy or gratitude. These little flowers certainly do stay a long time, and they make sure they move all over your garden if you are not careful so they are assured of the constant status in your garden.
In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will
love only what we understand; and we will understand
only what we have been taught.
– Baba Dioum