Bells of Ireland: Direct Sow Annual
How to Sow and Plant
Sowing Directly in the Garden:
- Prechilling the seeds for 1-2 weeks at about 40 degrees F can aid germination.
- Direct sow seeds in average soil with good drainage in full sun after danger of heavy frost.
- Prepare the soil by removing weeds and working organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth.
- Most plants respond well to soils amended with organic matter. Compost is a wonderful form of organic matter with a good balance of nutrients and an ideal pH level, it can be added to your planting area at any time. If compost is not available, top dress the soil after planting with 1-2 inches of organic mulch, which will begin to breakdown into compost. After the growing season, a soil test will indicate what soil amendments are needed for the following season.
- Sow seeds about 12 inches apart and cover with ¼ inch of fine soil.
- Firm soil lightly with your hand, water and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings will emerge in 7-14 days.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
- Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For annuals an organic mulch of shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- Water moderately and fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Stake plants while they are still young.
- Excellent for cut or dried flowers.
- For fresh use, cut the spikes once they have reached the desired length.
- For drying, cut them when the calyxes are still green or as they begin to turn beige.
- Bells of Ireland adds unusual color and texture to the beds and borders.
Common Disease Problems
Cercospora Leaf Blight: Small flecks which develop a yellowish halo appear on the leaves and turn brown and coalesce. They can cause the leaves to wither and die. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants and destroy all plant debris.
Crown Rot: Plants wilt and die back at the soil line. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plants and do not plant in the same area.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
Bells of Ireland FAQs
Is Bells of Ireland deer resistant? Yes, it can be deer resistant, even rabbit resistant.
Can I grow Bells of Ireland in a container? Yes, you can grow it in a large container, especially smaller varieties such as Pixie Bells.
Does Bells of Ireland self-sow? Yes, it does tend to self-sow in the garden. Allow some flowers at the end of the season to dry on the plant.
Is Bells of Ireland really from Ireland? No, it recalls the Emerald Isle as a rare green flower in the garden (actually the flowers are tiny white flowers in the green bell shaped calyxes). It is native to Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus.