Bells of Ireland
Carithers Flowers Design Favorite
Bells of Ireland ( Molucella laevis), is a cool-weather, summer flowering annual that is native to Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus. Also called shell flowers and Molucca balm (applied mistakenly, for at one time they were thought to be natives of the Molucca Islands), they are a favorite among florists and those receiving bouquets. A member of the mint family, Bells of Ireland are thought by some to bring good luck. This plant is grown more for its showy, cup-shaped apple/lime green calyxes than for its tiny white flowers. The white flowers bloom in late summer and have an intense vanilla/lemony scent. Bells of Ireland grow to be 2 to 3 feet in height, and have a tendency to flop when they reach maturity (avoid planting in areas of high wind; use stakes if necessary).
Growing Recommendations - Bells of Ireland
Bells of Ireland are easy to germinate and grow. They do best in cooler climates, with well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. They should be sown directly from seed, with 9-12” spacing, in late fall or early winter. Because cold exposure prior to germination is important, you should refrigerate the seeds for a week before planting them. Water the plants regularly, but do not overwater. The plants self-sow easily, so you should expect volunteer plants the next season if you do not deadhead the flowers. Be careful where you sow Bells of Ireland: their lovely spires of bells have sharp thorns when they dry! After maturity, the plants are not especially attractive, so they should be planted where the residual foliage is out of sight. The plants are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. The flowers dry easily and mute to a beautiful straw color that looks nice in dried winter floral arrangements. For drying, hang them upside down in a dark place.