Northern Shade Gardening

Campanula Poscharskyana Groundcover with Blue Flowers

Monday, July 18, 2011 Category: Perennials

Campanula poscharskyana (Serbian bellflower) are a great groundcover for part shade or medium shade, even growing under taller plants to make a layered effect. This groundcover produce pretty blue flowers over a long period of time, usually right past the first frosts. I added two new varieties of  Serbian bellflower, ‘Werner Arends’ and ‘Blue Gown’, to my garden last year, to compare with the ‘Blue Waterfall’ variety I’ve grown for a while. The ‘Blue Waterfall’ that was so successful in the past completely died out over last winter, while the two added early last year, ‘Werner Arends’ and ‘Blue Gown’, are healthy and blooming well.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue starry flower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue starry flower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue flowers

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue flowers

The four photos above shows Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Waterfall’ which is the picturesque marketing name of ‘Camgood’. Last year it had masses of these gorgeous star-shaped blooms, with 5 narrow petals each, creating a beautiful effect.

Unfortunately, all of the photos of ‘Blue Waterfall’  are from last season, since they went AWOL, despite surviving the previous two zone 3 winters. I’m surprised, as I don’t think that last winter was necessarily colder. Also, ‘Blue Waterfall’ would easily flower right past the first light frosts in the fall, and was often one of the last flowers blooming in my garden. One year it bloomed right up to December, giving every appearance of extra hardiness. Since the other two varieties survived, and these appeared very healthy last fall, I don’t think it was a disease or infestation that destroyed them.

I could try replanting ‘Blue Waterfall’ (‘Camgood’), but I’ve decided to use one of the other varieties instead. Since I haven’t seen them being offered for sale this summer around town, I’ll divide the Blue Gown’ and ‘Werner Arends’ to start underplanting garden areas with a groundcover of blue flowers.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' plant

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' plant

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' lots of blue flowers

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' lots of blue flowers

These three pictures above are of Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Gown’. It has the same 5 petalled blue flowers in a star shape, but there is a white bee in the centre, which makes the flower pop and stand out a little more. There are many flowers all over the plant, making a pretty sheet of blue. This perennial was right next to a ‘Blue Waterfall’, so it didn’t get a cushier siting, but it has survived the winter and is very healthy.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' serbian bellflower in bloom

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' serbian bellflower in bloom

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' blue flowers

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' blue flowers

The three shots above are Campanula poscharskyana ‘Werner Arends’. The flowers of ‘Werner Arends’  have a slightly less noticeable white centre than ‘Blue Gown’. Just one plant has close to a hundred of these blue star flowers, radiating out on horizontal flower stems. This is a good choice for a blue flowering groundcover to cascade over an edge or wall. The multitude of blooms shows up well as  a blanket of blue from across the garden.

The flower stems of all of these Serbian bellflowers are mostly horizontal, spreading out across the ground. With such low profiles, they fit neatly underneath taller plants, to make a pretty flowering carpet. They are perfect for underplanting shrubs that have a little space at their base, like Hydrangea. The Campanula poscharskyana form a pretty groundcover that keeps down the weeds, while providing beautiful colour. They also work well under taller perennials, colouring up the bare soil underneath my taller Actaea (bugbane). Here are more photos of how this Campanula can be planted under perennials. With the showy blue flowers, Serbian bellflowers make a terrific edging at the front of a garden bed. The trailing flower stems of this bellflower can cascade over a planter edge as well. However, in zone 3 they would have to be sited in the ground to overwinter.

When the flowering stems of Campanula poscharskyana start to fade, I just cut them off to start the next round of blooms. There are so many little flowers on every stem, that it is impractical to deadhead them individually, although I’ve done that in the past. I’ve experimented with leaving the old stems on, and they do seem to rebloom still, but removal makes for tidier looking plants.

The bees love these plants, as they do most Campanula. There are almost always  pollinators buzzing around the blooms, flitting in and out of the stars.

I liked all three versions of Campanula poscharskyana that I’ve grown, with the blue flowers mostly having subtle variations. However, I would have to take back my recommendation for ‘Blue Waterfall’ in zone 3, after the total die off this winter. Two out of the three, ‘Blue Gown’ and ‘Werner Arends’,  have proven to be hardy for me in Edmonton. I’ve read that in some climates they can grow too well, but I’ve never had problems with them doing that here. In a warmer climate, you might not want to plant them near more delicate perennials.

The picture below is of ‘Blue Gown’, showing the incredible number of little blue blooms that cover the plants.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' Serbian bellflower

14 Responses to “Campanula Poscharskyana Groundcover with Blue Flowers” »

  1. Trainer John :
    July 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    They are lovely. They’re very common locally in more established gardens, creeping around walls, steps and paving to produce some very decorative effects. After previous experience I’ve deliberately never grown them in my current garden – it’s too small and they are a little bit invasive in our milder climate. Having said that I was sorely tempted by your photos to give it another try in a freshly cleared border. I’m having a struggle placing the bright golden and red foliage of Heuchera ‘Stoplight’ and this might just be a good contrast.

  2. Northern Shade :
    July 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Trainer John, I really like the appearance as they tumble over edges. My patio is slightly sunken, and they looked great draped over the border to soften it. You get a very long season of bloom from the plants, and it is hard to beat the pretty blue colour. In my zone they do not cause any problems, but I’ve read that they do a little too well in some warmer climates, so you’d probably want to put it where it is bounded by edges. That said, I wouldn’t mind these rambling a little through my garden.

  3. Shady Gardener :
    July 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Northern! I’d actually remembered your post on Campanula last year – so sorry about the AWOL plants!! Have you tried Cherry Bells?? They’re upright and fairly robust – needing staking in the shade – but what great flowers!!! Happy Gardening!!

  4. Northern Shade :
    July 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Shady Gardener, I’ve been fortunate in that all of my other Campanula species have been very hardy here, flourishing and filling in nicely. I’ll have to see how I might squeeze in some Cherry Bells. I do grow Campanula ‘Summertime Blues’ which is somewhat similar looking to Cherry Bells, but with steely blue flowers. Lately I’ve been enjoying the look of the blue bellflowers with various pink blooms, and I think Cherry Bells would fit in nicely.

  5. easygardener :
    July 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    They are beautiful flowers for ground cover or hanging over low walls. I lost a poscharskyana a couple of years ago. It didn’t fade away it just failed to appear one year. A complete mystery as it was very well established. I expected a tiny piece would eventually pop up somewhere nearby but it never did and I was left with a bare patch of earth.

  6. Northern Shade :
    July 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Easygardener, that is pretty much what happened with my C. poscharskyana. They just didn’t wake up from their winter sleep, after being perfectly healthy last year. I was glad that I had the other varieties that survived. I replanted some of the area where the ‘Blue Waterfall’ used to be with Campanula cochlearifolia (fairy thimble bellflower). I could also divide up some C. portenschlagiana (Dalmation bellflower) from another garden area, as it is a very similar groundcover.

  7. SwimRay :
    July 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I was not familiar with these types of Campanula ground cover. I might give it a try for my shady area here in zone 7a. I know the feeling of losing a plant over winter for no apparent reason. I lost my 6-year old lavender after a normal winter a few years ago.
    -Ray

  8. Northern Shade :
    July 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    SwimRay, they get a large number of flowers for such small plants, and the blooms last a long time, even past light frosts. Since they are so short, it is easy to plant them around other perennials. I particularly liked the way they looked under the Actaea (bugbane), as they filled the base with pretty flowers through the summer, while I waited for the Actaea to bloom in fall.

  9. Rebecca @ In The Garden :
    July 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Such a beautiful groundcover, I planted a few after learning about it here. Mine have come back so far (knocking on wood), but not thriving yet. It’s too bad yours went AWOL, but at least it gives a little more planting space. :)

  10. Northern Shade :
    July 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Rebecca, I’m glad yours survived, and hope they start expanding for you. I found it odd that the different groups of ‘Blue Waterfall’ would disappear at the same time, but I’m glad that the other varieties are thriving. I’ve already started filling in the old space with some other dwarf Campanula, which give a similar effect. The vacant real estate gets filled up quickly. If not by me, then by the weeds. :)

  11. gartenzauber 2008 :
    July 23, 2011 at 4:17 am

    your beautiful bluebells, this diversity and the intense blue. thanks for the info, was very interesting to learn something new. Wish you a nice weekend.
    Kind regards Waltraud

  12. Northern Shade :
    July 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Gartenzauber, the Serbian bellflowers do make a pretty carpet of blue. There are lots of blue highlights around the garden right now with all of the different bellflowers in bloom.

  13. Margie :
    January 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I live in Dana Point Ca. Fairly close to the ocean, want to plant campanula Serbian bellflower as a ground cover in backyard that has south exposure. It gets warm here in the summer probably 80 degrees,can I plant this there?
    Thanksfor all the help.

  14. Northern Shade :
    January 24, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Margie, the Serbian bellflower is very hardy, and in warmer climates can spread quite a bit. I’m not sure how it handles salt water spray, but in general is is definitely hardy. It makes a low maintenance groundcover, but I wouldn’t plant it next to delicate plants.

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