Bell flowers are a native plant to the Northern Hemisphere, and some cultivars come with golden leaves that are valued as much as the actual flower portion of the plant are. They are generally a low maintenance choice once you get them in a suitable location, but you do want to avoid the types that tend to aggressively spread.
Bell flowers come in shades of lilac, blue, pink, white, and purple with cup-shaped, bell-shaped, or star-shaped flowers. The flower shape will depend on the species and whether or not they’re completely open. You plant this flower in the spring months, and they’ll start to bloom in the late spring to early summer months until the autumn. The flowers are usually on the smaller side, but there is a large abundance on each flower to make them very showy.
This flower is well-suited to many northern gardens since it offers a broad range of growth habits and sizes. You can get taller bell flowers to border your garden, but there are also ones that have a short enough growth habit to act like a ground cover, rock garden plant, edging plant, or other variety. They do exceptionally well in well-drained soils with an average moisture amount and a neutral pH level.
You’ll want to give the bell flower full sun in the north and partial shade if you live in the south and plant it. There are over 500 species in this genus currently, and you can get annual or biennial varieties. Canterbury bells is one very well-known and loved biennial. To help you decide which ones will fit into your space, we’re going to outline the 18 most popular types of bell flowers available below.
Better known as Dickinson’s Gold, this bell flower has a very deep green coloring on the foliage with tiny flower clusters that vary from light lavender to blue. They have teeth-like petals on them, and you’ll find these smaller flowers popping up throughout the entire plant.
This plant also grows very quickly, so you want to plant them in an area where they can expand over time. This bell flower does very well in zones one to six, and it can survive with a slight frost. It works well as an addition to any border wall, and it has tiny blue leaves that will spill out to help create the look of a classic cottage garden.
2. Birch Hybrid
This is a dwarf collection of bell flowers that is a perennial, and it’s a great choice to put in edging, cottage gardens, or rock gardens. It’s a very low-growing bloom that has a classic bell shape to it. It’ll show a very attractive violet blue coloring. They do very well from the early summer months well into autumn, and they get between four to six inches tall. You do want to spread them out a bit as they can get up to 12 inches wide at full maturity.
3. Bluebell, or “Harebell”
This is a ground level type of bell flower that is very popular as the flowers look like a rosette. The species name of rotundifolia is referencing the rounded basal leaves that this plant has. However, the overall plant is an upright one, and it can easily get up to 20 inches tall or higher. It has bell-shaped light blue flowers, and it’s native to the northern hemisphere.
This type of bell flower does best in growing zones three to six. The taller height means that you’ll want to put it on the sides or in the back of your garden so it doesn’t obscure your view. It needs full sun to partial shade to do best, and you want to plant it in an area with well-draining soil.
4. Campanula Lactiflora
One of the prettier types of milky bell flower, this flower will lend a very stately appearance to your garden. It has star-shaped, tall flowers that come in a lavender coloring and form soft open clusters. They mix and match very well with a range of flowers, but they are gorgeous planted by red roses.
This plant does very well in a garden border to make it more eye-catching. Also, this is a pest-resistant plant that is very low-maintenance. It can also work to help keep rabbits and deer away from your other plants. There are two varieties worth considering, and they are:
Loddon Anna Flowers
This is a very pretty bloom with different hues of soft pink or milky white that can help add soft color to your landscape. They’re a fantastic garden asset, and it’ll show off the pretty flowers in the early or later summer months. It’s a clump-based perennial that will get up to two feet across and four feet tall at full maturity.
This is a perennial bell flower that features violet-blue, round-shaped blooms that form tight flower clusters. Their white center is a nice embellishment. You’ll see them in full bloom during the balmy summer months into the fall. During the hotter summer months, it’s best to plant them in partial shade to give them some protection from the scorching sun. They’ll need a lot of moisture and alkaline, or neutral and fertile soil to thrive.
There are pretty pink clusters of flowers on this biennial bell flower, and the bell-shaped blooms will get between 20 and 26 inches high and 12 to 18 inches wide. They’re very easy to grow and care for, so they’re perfect for novice gardeners. Not only do people adore these flowers, but butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds love them too. So, they’re great for anyone who wants to start a bee or butterfly garden in their yard.
6. Carpathian, or “Tussock”
This bell flower gets the name from where it originated in the Carpathian Mountains. It has cup-shaped flowers that usually come in a softer blush coloring. If you want to keep it growing, you should give it mulch in the summer months to keep the roots cool. Every two years, you can revitalize it by dividing the clumps during the spring and replanting them. Deadheading will encourage the plants to bloom again, and you want to remove the lower leaves that turn brown as summer goes on.
This plant does best when you plant it outside in zones three to eight. It does like full sun in more northern gardens. However, if you move further south, you’ll want to plant it in partial shade to protect it from the scorching sun. Make sure your soil is well-drained but moist.
The pretty flower clusters that most types of this cultivar produce are very eye-catching, so they’re easy to mix and match with your other flowers to draw the eye around the space. Campanula glomerata by xulescu_g / CC BY-SA 2.0
The scientific name for this bell flower is campanula glomerata. As the name suggests, the flowers on this plant grow in a dense bunch that can be white to violet-blue in color. They’re vigorous and charming flowers in a bell-shape, and they can get up to a foot tall and 36-inches wide under the correct growing conditions. You’ll want a richer soil and regular watering sessions to keep them happy. However, they do tend to grow aggressively, so they’ll spread out in a thick layer if you’re not careful. They fall into two broad categories:
Campanula Glomerata Var. Acaulis
This clustered bloom flower has deep purple coloring with bell-shaped flowers that will mature in the late spring to early summer months. One other noticeable thing about this plant is that it spreads and grows a lot quicker than most flowering plants as long as you take care of it.
Campanula Glomerata Var. Alba
The second clustered bell flower is a nice addition to your home garden. It’ll start blooming during the late spring months and go into early summer. This plant can easily reach two feet tall and wide at full maturity, and it has medium-green leaves in a lance shape. It’s very easy to pair this plant up with other plants, and it does best when you put it right next to other taller plants.
8. Cobaea Scandens
This is a uniquely-shaped flower that has cup-shaped leaves. This is why you hear it called the Cup and Saucer Vine. It has a dull green color when it’s young, but this will eventually change to a white or purple color. You get a honey-scented blossom with a green calyx at the base that will turn into the saucer. For the best chances of it thriving, it’ll need to be in an area that gets bright, direct sunlight. They can do very well in ordinary garden soil.
9. Creeping, or “Rampion”
Although this is a popular type of bell flower, you want to exercise caution when you plant it as it’s considered to be invasive. You should double-check with the county extension regarding what the status is in your area. It has a longer taproot that is difficult to remove, and it spreads using rhizomes. If it’s not considered invasive in your area, you’ll be able to enjoy pretty lavender-blue flowers that grow up one side of the plant’s stem. The flowers droop to form the bell shape.
This bell flower is native to western Siberia and Europe. It does best when you plant it in zones three to nine. It can grow up to four feet tall under the correct growing conditions, and it does best when you plant it in partial shade to full sun. Also, it’s not incredibly picky with the soil.
Since this bell flower variety stays relatively short at full maturity, it makes an excellent edging plant along your walkways. This plant spreads using underground rhizomes, and it’s a great ground cover. If you plant it in less than ideal growing conditions like soil with very poor drainage, it can die quickly. The blues are blue or purple hued, and they have an open bell or star-shape. People grow this plant for the golden foliage.
You’ll find this plant growing in Herzegovina and Croatia, and it does well in zones four to eight. It only gets six inches tall at a maximum, so it won’t hide the flowers behind it. You should plant it in a well-draining soil in full to parietal sun in zones four to eight.
11. Earleaf, or “Fairy Thimble”
Native to Europe’s mountainous region, including from the Pyrenees to the Carpathians, this bell flower is very tolerant of alkaline soil conditions. This is also one of the most cold-hardy species available. It’s a mat-forming perennial that stays very short, and this makes it an excellent ground cover. It does very well planted in rock gardens where the soil stays more moist. The flowers can be white, lavender, or a darker blue. It also has tiny basal leaves that look like small ears.
Since this is a more cold-hardy bell flower, it does very well planted outside in zones two to nine. You can combat the colder temperatures by planting it in an area that gets full sunlight each day, but it also does very well in partial sun.
12. Great or “Broad-Leaved”
This is one of the other tallest bell flowers available, so you want to tuck it in the back of the flower bed if possible to prevent it from obscuring your view. It also has a very deep purple coloring that makes it very showy, so it’s easy for it to overshadow anything in the garden if it’s in front. This plant also readily reseeds, so this has earned it the label of being a pest in some locations. You should double-check with the local extension office to see if it’s invasive or not in your area before you plant it.
This plant is native to Europe, western Asia, Siberia, and the Himalayas. It does best planted in zones four to eight, and it gets up to four feet tall at full maturity. You want to plant it in an area that gets partial shade to full sun for the best growth habits.
You’ll get early summer blooms that last until fall with this bell flower, and it has very pale pink-purple blooms to it with darker spots on the interior. It also comes with very bright green leaves that enhance the plant’s overall beauty to enrich it more. It’s a very lightly scented bloom that does well when you plant it in full sun or partial shade, depending on your growing zone. People deeper in the South should plant it in partial shade to protect it from the sun.
These plants are some of the first blooms of the spring, and they can carry on well into the fall months to add welcome color to your space. Korean bellflower (Campanula takesimana) by John Brandaeur / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The milky part of this bell flower’s name comes from the fact that it is available in white and blue shades up to a violet color. This is one type of bell flower that isn’t a fan of very hot weather, so it’s a good choice for desert landscaping or in the South in general. It’s also a taller species, so it does well in the back row of your perennial bed, or you can grow it right against a taller structure. You may want to stake it upright and protect it from the wind to prevent it from drooping. You can get a shorter cultivar called the Pouffe that gets below two-feet tall too.
This bell flower is native to the Caucasus, and you should plant it outside in zones five to seven for the best flowers. It can get up to an impressive five feet tall at full maturity, and it loves being in full sun to partial shade with slightly cooler environments.
Even though the name would make you think that this bell flower has a peach coloring, it actually has a broad color range from violet to white. It’s regarded as being Finland’s most attractive wildflower, and it’s an evergreen flowering plant that will bloom for a good portion of the year. It’s a perennial that is commonly pollinated by honey bees, bumblebees, and flies. There are two kinds of peach-leaved bell flowers available, and the are:
This plant has the botanical name of Campanula persicifolia. It offers both flowers and foliage that can be show-stopping. You’ll get very tall upright spikes of very intense blue flowers. The leaves have a golden hue to them that is very prized, and it gives you excellent contrast and color wherever you choose to plant it.
You’ll get a creamy white flower with this cultivar that has pale blue dots sprinkled along the petal’s edges for a very pretty look. It’ll start to bloom early in the summer and continue to late summer. This plant tops out at three feet tall and 18-inches wide at full maturity. If you’re looking for something to mix into your containers or plant along your borders, this is a great option.
As the name suggests, this bell flower is native to Serbia. It has a very short stature that makes it a great ground cover. It has vigorous runners that it uses to spread, and it works very well when you plant it along slopes or banks in wild gardens. It has pretty lilac-blue flowers that will start out as a bell-shape before slowly opening to become star-shaped later in the summer. The leaves are heart-shaped to oval, and you have to watch for slugs and snails because they can eat the plant’s leaves.
You should plant this cultivar in zones three to eight for the best results, and it can get up to a foot tall. The shorter stature makes it easy to mix and match with your other plants without it taking over. Like most bell flowers, it does best planted in full sun to partial shade.
This bell flower is native to Japan and Siberia, and it’s a pink cultivar that has an upright growth habit in tight clumps. It has bell-shaped flowers that can be white too, and the blooms will have purple spots inside to give it the name of the spotted bell flower. It’s also much more sensitive to the summer heat than many cultivars on the list, and it only does very well in a very narrow growing zone range. It can spread very aggressively, and it can take over more structured gardens if you’re not careful.
For the best results, put this plant in zones five to seven. It’ll get up to two feet high with the right growing conditions, and it likes well-draining soil that you keep slightly moist. It should get partial shade to full sun with slightly more mild climates. If it gets too much sun, it’ll die.
Known for the upright spikes, this bell flower has bell-shaped flowers that hummingbirds adore. It’s a nice garden-boosting flower that will bloom a deep purple color that can make your garden more refreshing and vibrant. It’s another low-maintenance choice that is pest-free. It’s also very common amongst novice gardeners since it’s so easy to take care of when you plant it.
Tips on How to Grow Bell Flowers
Creeping Bellflower by Brenda Dobbs / CC BY-NC 2.0 If you want to try your hand at growing these beautiful flowers, it’s important that you get the basic planting conditions right so they take off and really bloom throughout the summer months.
- Diseases or Sicknesses – Diseases or sicknesses can show up on these plants as a fuzzy white coating on the leaves or as a powdery mildew. You should prune affected areas or apply a fungicide or horticultural oil when you notice them.
- Fertilizer – Since this plant tends to bloom from the late spring months to the first frost in the early fall, adding fertilizer won’t hurt for a nutrient boost. Add a 5-10-10 or a 10-10-10 fertilizer once in the spring and once in the late summer months to keep them blooming.
- Mulch – After you plant your bell flower, add two to three-inches around it without mulching right against your plant. The mulch is great at helping retain moisture, deterring weeds from springing up, and helping fertilize the beds as it breaks down. It also keeps the root system cooler during the summer.
- Pests – Make sure that you check for pests like slugs, snails, or aphids periodically because they love to eat the plant’s leaves. Moist surfaces tend to attract these pests, so irrigate the soil around the plants instead of overhead watering.
- Soil – Start by ensuring that you have the correct soil conditions. The soil should be very well-draining but rich, and it shouldn’t hold a lot of moisture.
- Space – When you plant them, space these plants 15 to 18 inches apart. The flowers are sprawling, so you want to periodically divide any congested areas in the spring or autumn months. Once winter arrives, cut them back or let them stay in an over-winter space for your birds.
- Sunlight – We mentioned numerous times that this plant likes partial sun to full sun. As a rule of thumb, the further South you are, the more shade the plant should get for protection during the summer months. The more sunlight it gets without burning, the more flowers it’ll produce.
- Trimming – The more you deadhead your plant, the more blooms you’ll encourage it to produce. Always use gardening shears or small scissors when trimming this plant to avoid tearing your flower stems.
Companion Plants for the Bell Flower
Once you get the bell flower in, you may start wondering which plants work best around it. We’ve picked out a few quick options for companion plants for the bell flower, and they are:
- Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla)
- Lamb’s Ear (Stachys)
No matter which type of bell flower you pick, they can make a stunning addition to your garden or landscape. We’ve outlined 18 popular types along with quick planting tips to ensure that they thrive. You can use this guide to mix and match and add a stunning statement piece to your yard this season.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.