Jan 22, 2018


The Campanulas, more familiarly known as bluebells or bellflowers.

Campanulas for the Cariboo

The Campanulas, more familiarly known as bluebells or bellflowers, are members of the large genus Campanulaceae which is comprised of approximately 300 species. This large group of plants is native to temperate areas of the Northern hemisphere and is comprised mainly of herbaceous perennials although there are some species of annuals and biennials.

Campanulas range from dwarf sized alpines of 10 cm up to large sturdy varieties exceeding 200 cm. The flowers range from bell-shaped (most) to tubular, urn- and star-shaped. They are generally blue or purple but many also come in white and pink. This versatile group has adapted to many sites, some are happy in dry areas, some in moist. Some prefer full sun, others manage quite well in shade or semi-shade. There is no reason therefore, not to include at least one or two of these little beauties in your landscape, or even one or two dozen. No matter what your site or soil, you can find some type of bluebell that will be suitable.

At this time I have not tried any annual varieties of Campanula (unless you count the zone-challenged exotic perennial seedlings that didn’t make it through a tough winter). However, C. medium or Canterbury Bells is a very hardy biennial variety which has thrived for me. These grow from 60 – 90 cm and can be single or double (“cup and saucer”) and come in many shades of pink, white and blue. Although biennial, I find they self-seed extremely well, and after 8 years still have a variety of colours.

Some perennial types which are successful in this area include the following:

C. carpatica (Carpathian bellflower) – these are short and mounding plants good for edging or at the front of borders. The upturned flowers are an open bell shape and come in white as well as various shades of blue. I have just this past summer acquired a few in double-flowered form and wait eagerly to see how they survive the winter.

C. persicifolia (peach-leaved bellflower) – these plants carry largish blue or white (single or double) flowers on stalks approximately 90 cm high over a basal rosette of slender, toothed lance-shaped leaves.

C. rotundifolia (harebell, bluebells of Scotland) – small rounded long-stalked leaves form a small clump which spreads very slowly (in my garden) by underground rhizomes. Small bell-shaped flowers nod on wiry stems up to 30 cm.

C. glomerata (clustered bellflower) – A very vigorous perennial with erect, stiff stems from 45 to 60 cm. The flowers can range from dark violet to white and occur in tubular form clustered at the top of the plant.

C. cochleariifolia (fairies’ thimbles) – this is a low, spreading charmer with small rounded leaves forming rosettes. The pendant flowers are bell-shaped, come in blue or white, may be single or double and grow to only 8 cm high.

C. takesimana (Korean bellflower) – a large clumping plant which grows to 50 cm high a 90 cm wide. The pinkish flowers are large and pendant with maroon spots inside ( I think they somewhat resemble a foxglove). A very attractive plant and a very generous one, as it spreads rapidly by its sturdy rhizomes.

C. rapunculoides (creeping or roving bellflower) – included here as a warning. This is an attractive thug, growing to approx. 1 m tall with nodding violet bells. Once established, it is extremely difficult to eradicate, as it seems any tiny piece of the rhizome sprouts anew.

Other perennial varieties grown successfully in Prince George include:

  • C. alliariifolia (Ivory bells)
  • C. bellidifolia
  • C. betulifolia (birch-leaved camp.)
  • C. portenschlagiana
  • C. poscharskyana
  • C. “Birch Hybrid” (a hybrid of the 2 previous)
  • C. “Dickson’s Gold” – with yellowish leaves
  • C. punctata

Some varieties to be tried next year (mostly alpines):

  • C. anomala
  • C. ardenensis
  • C. aucheri
  • C autraniana
  • C. ciliata
  • C. hertzegovinensis
  • C. murettiana
  • C. sarmatica
  • C. zoysii

Come to the Spring plant sale and check out my germination rate!


Featured Plant

The Campanulas, more familiarly known as bluebells or bellflowers.

Lawn & Garden forecast for Prince George



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Last modified: Sun 02-Feb-2020 11:42:21 PST