Campanula Portenschlagiana Purple Flowering Groundcover

Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ (dalmatian bellflower) makes a great groundcover, with a thick carpet of gorgeous purple flowers. I planted these in a narrow space between my house and a sidewalk. The area is a little dry under the eaves and shaded between the houses, but they thrive there.

Campanula portenschlagiana is hardy and easy care. I have a 12 m (39 ft) row of these, and they all survived the winter. Incredibly, a couple of these plants kept a few of their colourful flowers under the snow. There they were in April, when the snow melted. They weren’t as perky after being buried in the snow. They were  soggy and wilted,  but they were still violet. These and the C. rotundifolia are the only plants I’ve had do that.

The foliage on this plant is long lasting too. In fall, as other plants give in to the frost, Campanula portenschlagiana continues with perfectly green leaves. In earliest spring, many of these leaves are still intact, giving an early boost of green.

I’ve read that these can spread more in other zones, but I’ve had no problem with them. They haven’t seeded into the lawn, nor have they tried to send runners down the cracks of the sidewalk. I’m not sure if this is because ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ is better behaved than the species or not. Perhaps the location I have them in, or my zone keeps them well behaved.

The flowers of these dalmatian bellflowers are upward facing bells, which makes it easy to view and admire them. The petals flare out and curl back slightly, a very attractive shape. ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ are a bluish violet colour, the exact shade changing with the angle and intensity of the sun. The plants are completely covered in the blooms, even in this area that only gets a couple hours of sun.

Not only do I find these dalmatian bellflowers attractive, but the bees find them irresistible too. You can play ‘Where’s Buzzy’ with the photos, as many have them have a fuzzy little black and yellow rear end sticking out of a flower. There is always a faint hum as I walk down this sidewalk. I like to stop and watch the bees bury their heads in the flowers, as their back ends wiggle around. It always makes me smile.

The Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ can grow in some less than ideal conditions, and still produce these gorgeous blooms. There are more photos and information about this Campanula on a follow up post.

Capanula portenschlagiana 'Hoffman's Blue'

39 thoughts on “Campanula Portenschlagiana Purple Flowering Groundcover”

  1. Stunning!! Campanula Bellflowers are my favorite, I have a few varieties but not this one. Great pictures. :)

    1. Rebecca, thanks, these thrive very well for their siting. They make a long purple path along one side of my house. It’s such a narrow space, that it doesn’t work to have a mixture of plants, and I like the way they spill gently onto the walkway.

    1. Kaija, I like the long blooming time of many Campanula. The purple or blue flower colours always look great, while the bell or star shapes are appealing.

  2. beautiful! I have a tiny Serbian Bellflower which is very pretty. seeing your walkway photo makes me want to add a dozen or more of them to the garden.

  3. I bought a pot of Portenschlagiana and I wonder, if I put them in a large rectangular container whether they would spread to fill it all and be so the main character on my balcony?

    1. Johanna, the C. portenschlagiana does spread well after a year or two. However, they don’t bloom all summer, like many annuals would, so you would probably want some other flowers with them to extend the blooming time. When they are in flower, these bellflowers put on a great show, and they are easy to look after.

  4. I just saw these in the Portland, OR area, in someone yard ( They were having a yard sale ) I took a photo of them with my iphone, did some research…and lo and behold! I seem to be able to find on your site… But can’t seem to find them any where else. Would you be able to help me locate these, even in seed form, I would be forever grateful : )

    Thank you, Sheri

    1. Sheri, C. portenschlagiana ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ is a really nice looking bellflower, and blooms very well, so it is great for the garden. I’m not sure of other sources for this plant now, but good luck in locating it.

    1. Susan, this bellflower would look great softening the edges of your paving, a river of bluish purple winding through your patio.. Mine fills the gap between a sidewalk and cement foundation with those prolific flowers.

    1. 21Rouge, mine all get less than 2 hours of sun and still bloom. Some of them get maybe a half hour of sun, and they still bloom. Mine flower for about 6 weeks in mid summer.

  5. Have a problem with my bellflowers. Have two types. Both in groups of three in the north end of my property. Both bloomed perfectly this spring, then the flower growth seems to have laid upon the plant and smothered it. The plants have rotted out from the center. There were a lot of potato bugs by the rotten parts at the base of each plant. I felt compelled to cut the spent flower growth in an effort to get more air to the base of my plants. I was wondering if my expectation for summer long flowering was over rated or if there was something that I should have done .

    1. Irene, many of the bellflowers have an extended blooming time, but it can vary depending on the type of Campanula. They often have a clump of basal foliage that forms a low rosette. Then the flowering stalks rise up from this group of leaves, and there can be leaves on these flowering stems. You can deadhead the plants to remove the spent flowers and that can prolong the bloom time, or just cut off the whole flowering stalks when they are done, and they will often bloom again. The part that is rotting might be the finished flowering stems, that can have leaves on them, too. It’s good to remove these. It would definitely be a good idea to cut out the parts that are rotting back, as the plant might send out new fresh foliage.

      If your plants are Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflowers), then the foliage does often die back after flowering and can look ratty. The clustered bellflowers are not my favourite type for this reason. Here is a picture of some clustered bellflowers mixed in with some iris. If this is the type you have, they won’t look good after they flower, but you can cut them back and they will still return next year.

  6. Caution re Campanula for those of you with dogs. This plant is toxic to our canine companions and causes fatal liver destruction.

    1. Good to know. I just got some from my old man, looked them up and it said they were non toxic but may cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Plant may be going to work with me.

    2. Now I am not sure if they are poisonous or not. What I read says not. Possible gastric upset, but not toxic. More information as I get it.

    3. Mary P., I haven’t read of them being more poisonous than your average plant. It’s definitely not creeping Charlie, although surprisingly they do sell it in the greenhouses around here as a container plant, but I always laugh when I see it.

    1. Diane, if you are in Edmonton, many of the greenhouses, such as Holes, sell the plants when they start stocking again. It is easy to propagate, since you can divide it or dig a small clump of the stems to start new ones.

    1. Sue, I used to live in Windsor, too. These Campanula would do fine in sun, as well. You would probably have to water them more in Windsor’s heat with a sunny exposure.

  7. Very interesting comments and experiences. I have a ten meter edging with these purple flowers. They have finished flowering in July, in North London, UK. How can I extend the flowering period? And secondly, what needs to be done at the end of flowering season when the bush looks untidy with part dead and part living plants all mixed together in a clump?

    Surendra

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