The Italian Bellflower is one of the best of all summer-flowering trailing plants. For generations it has been grown on windowsills and sideboards, its long grey-green stems tumbling down the side of the pot. During the summer these stems bear a profusion of small star-shaped flowers.
The blooms are clustered at the tips of the stems, and one of the secrets of success for prolonging the display is to remove the flowers once they have faded. Campanulas are no problem – all you have to provide are bright and fairly cool conditions and a compost which is kept moist throughout the growing season. Once flowering is over, cut back the stems and keep cool and fairly dry during the winter rest period.
Types of Campanula
Several species of Campanula are grown as house plants. By far the most popular one is Campanula isophylla which has many popular names – Italian Bellflower, Star of Bethlehem, Falling Stars, Trailing Campanula etc. The small leaves are pale green and the height of the plant is rarely more than 9 in. The usual flower colour used to be blue, but these days the popular ones are a white variety (alba) and a mauve one (mayi).
Campanula fragilis is quite similar to C. isophylla, bearing blue flowers on 1 ft pendant stems. The main difference is that Campanula fragilis bears somewhat fleshy leaves. Raise this one from seed. The variety called Campanula carpatica was first found in the Carpathian Mountains, a range that stretches across Central and Eastern Europe; divided into the Western, Central and Eastern portions. Other names for carpatica include the Carpathian harebell, Carpathian bellflower and Tussock bellflower. The lovely clusters of flowers of the Carpathian bellflower can be found in deep blue, light blue and even white, but it is usually the blue hues that captivate onlookers.
Cup shaped with star like tips on the five petal blossoms, the campanula gives the impression of being dainty and fragile but is in fact a highly tolerant plant in the face of diverse conditions. The foliage of this plant is as attractive as the blossoms. Deep green leaves that resemble small hearts provide a perfect foil for the brightly hued flowers as well as other medium to light green plants in the garden. This foliage forms a nicely mounded miniature “bush” so that its very presence adds interest to any flower bed, garden or rock garden.
Secrets of success
Temperature – Cool or average warmth.
Light – Brightly lit spot away from direct sun in summer.
Water – Keep compost moist at all times – reduce watering in winter.
Repotting – Repot, if necessary, in spring.
Propagation – Take stem cuttings or sow seeds in spring.
In the wild, Campanula prefer moist, well drained soil in areas with part sun or full shade. Preferring the canopy of trees, these ground cover perennials will often grow under pine or aspen trees in forested areas. Most species are hardy down to climate zone 5 but may suffer in winter if not protected.