Northern Shade Gardening

Beautiful Bellflowers

Saturday, July 12, 2008 Category: Perennials

Campanula rotundifolia with Heuchera

The Campanula (bellflowers) are displaying their beautiful blooms now. They are a great perennial, and not just because they come in various shades of blue, purple and white. Many of these plants have a long blooming period.  Most of them also have good looking foliage. Campanula tend to be very easy care. Most bellflowers don’t need much fussing, except some of the small rock garden ones which need good drainage. Generally, deadheading and some extra water when things get dry are about all they need.

I always smile at the sight of bees in the flowers of Campanula. Most of the flowers are small, short tubes, and bees can’t get all the way in. They squeeze their bodies in as far as they can to get the nectar goodness, while their back ends hang outside, and wiggle back and forth.

Campanula posharskana \'Camgood\' (blue waterfall Serbian bellflower)

This perennial with pretty stars is Campanula poscharskyana ‘Camgood’ (blue waterfall Serbian bellflower). It has horizontal flowering stalks with many blue star-shaped flowers. It blooms well, even in medium shade.

The plant is low growing.  It is a spreading bellflower, but doesn’t become annoying in zone 3. In good soil in a warmer climate, it might spread faster. I like the look of the numerous blue stars shining under shrubs or around tall perennials. There is more about Campanula poscharskyana in this post.

Campanula carpatica  blue (Carpathian bellflower)

Campanula carpatica (Carpathian bellflower) is a very reliable perennial in zone 3. It forms a neat mound of foliage, and is covered in bells that face the sky. This good looking variety is C. carpatica ‘Blaue clips’ (blue clips). I also have the very similar C. carpatica ‘Deep Blue Clips’. Both of these flourish in the semi-shade. They are easy and satisfying to deadhead with a fingernail. Carpathian bellflowers are the longest flowering perennials in my garden.

Campanula carpatica white (white Carpathian bellflower)

I have 2 white flowering versions of C. carpatica, ‘Weisse clips’ (White Clips) and ‘White Uniform’. I’ve lost track of which Carpathian bellflower is which now. One of them is slightly more compact. These perennials are both very pretty and show up well from across the yard. Both are in semi-shade and do well. You can read more about Campanula carpatica and their care in this post.

Campanula portenschlagiana \'Hoffman\'s Blue\' (Dalmation Bellflower)

I posted about Campanula portenschlagiana “Hoffman’s Blue” (Hoffman’s Blue Dalmatian Bellflower)  in more detail before. It is a great bellflower that I highly recommend for its shade tolerance and long bloom. The flowers are upright, showy bells.

Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower)

Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower) is my least favourite of the bellflowers I grow. It has a pretty flower, but it is short blooming, too vigorous and the foliage deteriorates after blooming. I discussed it in more detail in this post.

Campanula cochlearifolia (fairy thimble bellflower)

Campanula cochlearifolia (fairy thimble) is an appealing little bellflower with many small light blue or white bells. It is very dainty, and looks good at the very front of a border, or draping around rocks or ledges. It spreads out to make a low carpet, with numerous tiny bells hanging from short stalks above. You can find out more about Campanula cochlearifolia in this post.

Campanula cochlearifolia \'Elizabeth Oliver\' (fairy thimble bellflower)

‘Elizabeth Oliver’ is a double flowering form of C. cochlearifolia. It is new to my garden this year. I hope it is as hardy as the basic fairy thimble. The charming flowers are a very pale blue, with a bell within a bell. This petite perennial is full of flowers. You can see how dark the Blue Clips on the left looks in comparison. There are more pictures and information about this double bellflower, ‘Elizabeth Oliver’,  in this post as well.

Campanula rotundifolia (hairbell or blue bells of Scotland or bellflower)

C. rotundifolia (harebell) is a hardy bellflower  that has blue bells hanging down the slender flower stalks. It has a low base of leaves, and the delicate flowers stalks rise above. In the shade, the flowers tend to lean over more, but this trait is fine, because it  looks good mingled with so many other plants. This is a charming, easy care bellflower that blooms for a few months, and then intermittently until frost. There is more about Campanula rotundifolia here.

Campanula never seem bothered by pests or disease. I had rust on a C. persicifolia (peach leafed bellflower) once, and that has been the only problem.

Campanula are a terrific genus in the garden. Their flowers, generally in shades of blue, purple and white, are always eye-catching. Many bellflowers bloom for an extended time, which is always a bonus for a perennial. They are easy to use in the garden, since they blend well with many other plants. Some of them tolerate medium shade, and many do well in part shade. All of these are hardy in the cold climate of zone 3. If you enjoy Campanula, here is a review I wrote of a super book about the dwarf Campanula.

31 Responses to “Beautiful Bellflowers” »

  1. Zoë :
    July 12, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I agree with you, I love all forms of Campanula. The ‘Elizabeth Oliver’ is one I haven’t seen before and is especially pretty.

    Zoë

  2. Barbee' :
    July 12, 2008 at 11:39 am

    One of my favorites, too. I have already killed a low creeping one (I think it was cochlearifolia, don’t remember for sure.), but have two other types going and they truly lift my spirits in delight!

  3. Northern Shade :
    July 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Zoe, the ‘Elizabeth Oliver’ is very charming, especially up close when you can see the detail of the bell inside the bell. It gets a great deal of blooms.

    Barbee’, most of the bellflowers don’t need coddling, but some of the small rock garden ones like good drainage. They are delightful, since the flowers are so nicely shaped and come in some of my favourite garden colours.

  4. Krys :
    July 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    All the bellflowers are lovely, and you have put together a wonderful collection. Around here, in addition to what we can buy at the nursery, the Nettle-leaved bellflower (campanula trachelium, L.) seeds itself (some would call it a weed). I now have, much to my delight, several clusters of 3-4 foot high stems filled with gorgeous purple bells.

  5. Amy :
    July 12, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    You’ve got an amazing campanula collection. I love the starry flowers on the “blue waterfall”.

  6. Northern Shade :
    July 12, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Krys, tall bellflowers stand out well, so you can enjoy the flowers easier.

    Amy, ‘Blue Waterfall’ is very showy. They have a lot of blooms that last a long time. If you deadhead, or cut off the flower stalks when they’re finished, it will also rebloom.

  7. SchneiderHein :
    July 12, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    So beautiful campanulas! Oh, I can remember, most of these beautiful bells we’ve had in our garden too – long time ago. But snails love them too …
    Only campanula poscharskyana is able to stay here.

    Silke

  8. bj :
    July 13, 2008 at 6:31 am

    The pictures of your flowers are great. Thank you for the information you have offered up to all.

  9. Ray :
    July 13, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Very interesting. I will bookmark as I am a new “shady gardener” (by circumstances) and definitely could use some mentoring.

  10. Northern Shade :
    July 13, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Silke, I should edit the section about pests and diseases. Since I don’t have a big snail population here, I haven’t had to worry about that. It’s too bad the slimy plant eaters find your Campanulas tasty.

    Bj, thanks and you’re welcome. It’s always good to find what grows well in a cold climate.

    Ray, it will be interesting to see what you find grows well in your shade.

  11. Gail :
    July 13, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Really gorgeous blues…while looking at your photos I was thinking wonderful bellflowers, but would you look at the soil, it’s so brown. We have clay here and your soil looks terrific. Now back to the flowers… simple lovely!

  12. Northern Shade :
    July 13, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Gail, I start running out of names for all the beautiful shades of blue and purplish blue in bellflowers.
    I’m fortunate to have fairly good soil of a blackish brown, flecked with decomposing tree detritus.

  13. Pomona :
    July 14, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I’m a total campanula freak, love them all, perennials and biennials. I have a white version of C. persicifolia that I totally love–and they are tough flowers, in the garden and teh vase. (Although–I hadn’t heard about slugs either. What a drage.) One of the best forms of campanula I’ve ever grown is C. pyramidalis alba. I lost it when I moved, but I’m going to start seeds again this fall–it bloomed several feet tall for well over a month, in late fall.

  14. Northern Shade :
    July 14, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Pomona, I should try C. persicifolia again, since I find the flowers beautiful too. It was at my last garden that it got rust, and I removed it.

  15. Jamie :
    July 15, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I added a few to my wish list here. I’m in my second year of having bellflowers, and I’m really enjoying them. Your are all beautiful!

  16. Northern Shade :
    July 15, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Thanks Jamie, I have another one I got this year, C. haylodgensis, but I’m not sure how hardy it will be yet. It is a cross between C. carpatica and C. cochlearifolia.

  17. Karin A :
    July 16, 2008 at 2:26 am

    I agree with you, bluebells are terrific plants in the garden but sofar I haven’t so many in my garden. But this week I got a new one, it’s double flowering, can’t remember the name. ‘Elizabeth Oliver’ is sweet! :)

  18. Linda Lunda :
    July 16, 2008 at 6:57 am

    OOhhhhh soo lovely!
    Linda

  19. Northern Shade :
    July 16, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Karin A, the double fairy thimbles on Elizabeth Oliver are very appealing. They look good closeup, and from a distance they look like little points of light.

    Linda Lunda, you have to love bellflowers. Each one has its own charm.

  20. Eric Bronson :
    July 17, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    What beautiful shades of blue! Wow, zone three I can’t imagine the challenges you face. Looks like you growing well!!!!

    Eric

  21. Northern Shade :
    July 17, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Eric, while I have to look for plants that are hardy, there are some advantages to the cold winter. It kills off many garden pests. Also, we have long periods of sunlight in the summer. On the other hand, we have a much smaller number of orchids we can grow outside.

  22. HaBseligkeiten :
    July 18, 2008 at 2:15 am

    Wunderschöne “Glockenblumen” bellflowers, so many colour of blue!!!

    I have 2 versions of Campanulas in my semi shadow garden.
    “C. rotundifolia” in blue and white.
    Liebe Grüße, Heidi

  23. Northern Shade :
    July 18, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Heidi, I sometimes see C. rotundifolia when I go hiking in the lower parts of the Rocky Mountains, but I’ve only seen the blue version in the wild.
    I love the colour blue in the garden, but what I like about the white flowers is that they show up so well in the shadows when viewed from inside the house.

  24. Philip :
    July 18, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    I love campanula and you have provided an invaluable resource for many different typs of species.
    Best,
    Philip

  25. Northern Shade :
    July 18, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Philip, Campanula seems to be a popular genus with gardeners, and also with the bees. When I was out in the garden today, the C. poscharskyana was humming with bees. There are lots of blooms on them for the pollinators to enjoy.

  26. thehunkygardener :
    August 10, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    I am so stoked to find a fellow Edmontonian’s blog! I love the campanula. Have carpatica and peachleaf. Keep bloggin it up!

  27. Northern Shade :
    August 11, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Thehunkygardener, it’s great to find out what another cold climate gardener is growing. I’ll have to check out your blog to see what’s growing in your garden.
    The peachleaf bellflower has such a pretty bloom. I should try it again, but this time without the rust.

  28. Rebecca :
    July 10, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Lovely series of pictures! I have many of these, and just added some C. persicifolia (peach leaf) in blue. They are planted in part shade, I hope they do well. The other campanulas seem to tolerate shade very well, and are so happy & pretty. My personal favorite is the blue fairy thimble. :)

  29. Northern Shade :
    July 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Rebecca, thanks. I find the fairy thimble bellflowers does very well. They are covered in pretty blue flowers right now, and look lovely. The double ‘Elizabeth Oliver’ is especially showy. I also have ‘Haylodgensis’, which is a cross between carpatica and cochlearifolia, which is another double.

  30. peggy :
    July 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Sounds silly, but how do you deadhead these beauties correctly for the blooms to continue?

  31. Northern Shade :
    July 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Peggy, some of the bellflowers will actually bloom for a long time without deadheading. I usually just snip them with my fingernails as I pass by on my rounds, especially for the larger flowers like Campanula carpatica (Carpathian bellflowers). I also have a small pair of snips, that are like manicure scissors with a spring that I use sometimes for individual spent flowers. If I’m in a hurry, or if there are just too many blooms, like on Campanula rotundifolia (harebell), I just cut the plants back with my pruning snips, and they’ll often bloom again later.

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