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Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland Moluccella Laevis
Moluccella laevis, more commonly known as Bells of Ireland, is one of my favorite annuals in the garden. I bought my first pack of seeds from Burpee last year when I decided green and black flowers were going to be my theme. These bells shaped flowers grow on erect stems that make them great candidates for floral arrangements.

My only complaint with this flower is how soon it blooms, I know that sounds crazy but hear me out. Mine start to bloom at a height of about 3 inches and sometimes I don't even notice them right away. The back of the Burpee seed pack says they reach a height of 2 1/2 feet tall, and I don't know how true that is. I'm not sure how these plants do in container gardens but I think they would make better candidates for a container than in the ground where they may not be appreciated as much.

Last year I managed to kill most of mine and I think it was because I used a foliar feed to do my fertilizing. The first time it I noticed the sudden browning and death of a patch of these plants I thought the culprit must have been something else. It wasn't until the second application of fertilizer that I realized the problem-the patch of Bells of Ireland in the garden that were not being given a foliar feed did fine while the others died. The patch that survived provided me with enough seeds to grow this year and I'm being more careful with applying fertilizers.

Related post: When I collect Bells of Ireland seeds.


  1. I'm growing some of these for the first time this year. No "bells" yet, but the plants seem to be doing well so far.

    What a great idea to use them in a green and black themed garden. Good luck with this year's bunch!

  2. Christa,

    Glad to hear you're growing them and I hope you have a lot of luck with yours too.

  3. I have tried to grow these for two years in a row and can't even get past the seedling stage. :-( I love, love, love them but they are on my list of things that I don't have the knack for. I maybe give them one more try next year...

  4. Love the Bells of Ireland. I wonder why you can never find them in a garden center. As always your photos are beautiful.

  5. P.S. Mr. Brown Thumb. I've found that a slow release pellet fertilizer (Miracle Gro makes one ) tossed on the ground and scratched in is an excellent one which will not over feed your plants and the great thing is - you only have to do it once in a season.

  6. I was so glad to see your entry about the Bells of Ireland. I'm dying to plant some of these seeds but do you think it's too late this year? I'm in Zone 5 too.

  7. Kylee,

    Can you grow 4 0'Clock seeds? If you can you can grow those for me and I can grow these for you because I'm on my second year of failure with them. I can't even get them to the seedling stage.


    I wonder why that is they're a very cool flower and I switched to that shake n' feed fertilizer this year and don't like it as much. The plants/blooms aren't as big this year. :(


    Give them a try I have some that self-sowed in the garden and are just now getting started. Can't hurt and if they don't start they'll go through the chill period outdoors if you plant them in the ground and be ready for next year.

  8. Anonymous7:14 PM

    I grew some of these this year in several spots in my garden. Some of them only grew to about 6 inches but about half of them probably grew close to 2 1/2 feet. I haven't yet figured out why those did better than the others though. Light, moisture, and soil are roughly the same for each. They are currently starting to brown and go to seed. I look forward to growing them again next year.

    By the way, if you search for 'Bells of Ireland' in Google image search your photo is #2 in the results!

  9. Sogardengeek,

    Funny you should mention that. I wanted to do a blog entry on these plants this year. I noticed that my full sun plantings never got going and eventually died while my planting under the juniper tree flourished.

  10. Anonymous8:31 AM

    That's very interesting that they did so well under the tree. Now that you mention it though, mine were a little sheltered by neighboring perennials but I would still say that all of the placements would fulfill the 'full sun' criteria.

  11. I love Bells of Ireland. We bought seeds this year and will try them out.

  12. ShannonKube10:27 AM

    I've tried to grow these two years in a row without much luck. What were your steps to getting these to grow? Sun? Soil type? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Did you start seeds indoors or plant seeds directly into the ground? What time of year? I have had luck with four o' clocks by planting seeds directly into the ground, full sun. Bells of Ireland are my absolute faves.

    1. ShannonKube,I started my seeds outdoors directly in the ground in the spring after all dangers of frost had passed. I planted some Bells of Ireland in the ground where the most sun hits in the garden, but the Bells of Ireland that grew in the shade did a lot better over the course of the growing season.



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