Bells of Ireland is originally native to the eastern end of the Mediterranean region and has been widely cultivated in Europe since the 1500s. Its association with Ireland probably has to do with the colour and because it is a symbol of good luck.
This annual plant grows into long, stringy stems that reach 2-4 feet tall and bear a multitude of 2’’ rounded calyxes with pale green leaves. Tiny white flowers are inside the funnel-shaped ‘’bells’’ and they are pleasingly fragrant, with a scent reminiscent of apples.
Bells of Ireland pairs well with other more colourful annual flowers, such as zinnias and coleus. If the plants are not pruned to encourage new growth, the blooming stems turn a pale beige when they dry, giving it an interesting look. Bells of Ireland is a must-try in dried flower arrangements and cut bouquets, and a unique addition to your annual garden.
- Latin Name: Moluccella laevis
- Life Cycle: Annual
- Days to Maturity: 90-100
- Planting Depth: 5 mm
- Plant Spacing: 25-30 cm
- Growth Habit: 80-120 cm tall
Bells of Ireland is a popular annual, displaying towers of green funnel-shaped flowers, studded along square stalks. Inside the bells are tiny white flowers that emit a pleasant aroma. The long-cultivated plant is a favourite for its distinct look and longevity in arrangements. It is a Mediterranean relative of favoured herbs like sage, catmint, thyme and lavender.
Seeds may take up to a month to germinate and two more before flowers grow and become fully mature. For this reason, seeds can be started indoors two months before the last frost date. Stratify your seeds a week beforehand to increase the germination success rate by placing seeds between moist paper towels and putting them in the refrigerator. After stratifying the seeds, plant them into biodegradable peat or coco pots.
Bells of Ireland quickly develop a taproot that doesn’t like being disturbed. Leave the seeds uncovered, mist well and wait patiently for germination. Once they sprout, get them to a bright spot like a sunny window or under lights. Make sure they're kept warm, moist and provide a heat mat if possible. Give them time to grow and become strong before starting the hardening off process. Keep them cozy inside until all danger of frost has passed.
A site with full sun will allow the stalks to grow tall and strong, without flopping over or needing support. Mix in some compost before planting as a fertilizer and to ensure that the soil will drain well. Early on, while getting established, make sure seedlings are well-watered. Once established, make sure they get about 3 cm of water per week. Other than the added compost, bells of Ireland shouldn’t require any feeding.
Bells of Ireland will go to seed at the end of the season. Collect some of the seeds from the drying flower heads or let it reseed and wait for the volunteers to pop up next spring. These can be dug up easily and relocated. Flowers from bells of Ireland dry easily and are an intriguing addition to arrangements.
While harvesting, beware the sharp spines that grow along the stalk. When bells are about half open, they can be cut for fresh flower arrangements. To harvest for dried flowers, wait until they are firm to the touch. The unmistakable features of bells of Ireland make them a joy to grow and admire in the garden and on display in bouquets.
- Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevis) are also known as Mulucca bells or shell flowers.
- Bells of Ireland seeds will remain viable for 3 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!