All the Dirt: My Blue Gem

November 28th, 2009 by Kim Lenz

If you have been following my articles this year you can tell I’m partial to the color blue.

While exploring the plant kingdom, I’ve realized there are not very many plants that offer a true blue. When referring to blue, the color tends to lean more towards purples and violets. I have experimented with a plant this summer which I consider a blue gem.

The botanical name is Campanula (kam-pan-yew-luh) pyramidalis (peer-uh-mid-ah-liss) and it’s commonly referred to as the Chimney Bell Flower. There are many varieties of bell flowers available as annuals, biennials and perennials. The Chimney Bell Flower is considered a short-lived perennial, so it is treated more as a biennial. The seeds of this group of plants are generally sown in the spring or summer to bloom the following year. The plants will bloom in colors of azure blue and white.

The Chimney Bell Flower is found cultivated throughout Central and Southern Europe. They are not that common in our area at this time. They can be found available online as seeds or plants.

Germination is quite easy. If starting from seed, it is best to freeze the seeds for five days before planting. This will give them their natural cooling period needed to initiate germination. You can sow the seeds directly outdoors and thin them after germination. Germination generally takes between two and three weeks.

When purchasing seeds, you can tell the difference between the blue and white varieties. The color of the seeds will tell you what color flower you will have. The blue flowering seeds will be beige and the white will be white in color.

This plant’s height makes it a great candidate for borders. The exceptional thing with this plant is that it can attain a height of six feet with a spread of two feet and the blooms will extend to the top.

This giant bell flower is a rapid grower. The main stems can be three quarters of an inch in diameter and will need support with a trellis or obelisk. When planting in a container, I suggest adding low growing annuals for a combo pot. They prefer a moist but a well-drained sunny exposure. Caution: Do not let the plant dry out completely. It can be a struggle to bring it back (I’m speaking from personal experience).

The flowers are bell shaped and one inch in diameter but when looking at its height in full color it is breathtaking. They will begin blooming in July and continue into the fall. After the first frost when the pods have turned brown, plan on collecting some seeds so you can continue the cycle for next year. Happy Growing.

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