Canterbury Bells

By: C. Colston Burrell
Canterbury bells are captivating bloom that appear as and See more pictures of annual flowers.

The name for Canterbury bells comes from campanula meaning "little bells," an accurate term, since the flowers are bell-shaped. Although biennials, they can be grown to bloom the first year by sowing seeds indoors early.

Description of Canterbury bells: Plants grow 21/2 feet to 4 feet tall, with roughly the top two-thirds covered with pink, rose, lavender, blue, or white flowers. The plant shape is pyramidal and leaves are long and narrow.


Growing Canterbury bells: Canterbury bells need rich, moist, well-drained soil and full sun. Although partial shade is tolerated, stems may grow weak under these conditions. Planting a group together will help plants support each other without staking, although in windy locations stakes may be needed. Plant 8 to 12 inches apart.

Propagating Canterbury bells: By seed. To grow for first year bloom, sow seeds 10 weeks prior to the last frost. Do not cover the seeds, since they require light to germinate. Germination time is 6 to 12 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To grow as a biennial, sow seeds outdoors in July or August. The small plants will bloom late the next spring.

Uses for Canterbury bells: Canterbury bells are ideal for the informal, cottage garden look, where they can be intermixed with a variety of other plants. They're also useful for planting at the center of island beds, where they're viewed from all sides.

Related species of Centerbury bells: Campanula isophylla, a tender perennial, is a species with a many-branched trailing habit, smothered in powder-blue or white flowers. Stella is available both in blue and white. Campanula ramosissima grows 6 inches to 1 foot high. Its most prevalent form has violet-blue flowers, but also appears in pink, rose, and lavender.

Related varieties of Canterbury bells: Campanula medium calyconthema, called "cup and saucer," has double bells, one inside the other. The Champion series of white, pink, and blue, blooms freely without a cold treatment.

Scientific name of Canterbury Bells: Campanula medium


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