Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis) are one of my favorite flowers to grow. They look great in floral arrangements and dried arrangements. I always grow extra plants so that I can dry flowers for later use.
Bells of Ireland flower history
Bells of Ireland, also known as the shellflower, are a half-hardy annual. It produces an unusual pale green to emerald green, bell-shaped flower along a tall green stem. The flower is actually a member of the mint family and originates somewhere around Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus. The exact location has never been decided on.
It is believed the flower was named Bells of Ireland because of the brilliant green color and small white flowers it produces. It is a flower that represents luck and also has a very distinctive and difficult-to-describe scent.
Growing Bells of Ireland
If you can find plants buy healthy, green plants. Choose plants that are stocky with plenty of leaves and show no signs of wilting or disease.
They do not sell these plants in my rural area so I start them from seed. If you are starting these from seed you will need to start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before your regions last frost date. I store the seeds in the refrigerator for two weeks (in a plastic bag with soil) before I start them to give them a “chill”. This is one seed that seems to need a cold spell to germinate well. This seed also need light to germinate so I lay them on top of the soil and dust the pot with soil. Keep these seeds in a very cool place (55 to 60 degrees F) until the seedlings germinate. Then I move them to an area where they get direct sun and supplement the light with a grow light. They are a sturdier plant with more light when they are small and tender.
You can plant the seedlings outdoors in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Choose a site in full sun and average, well-drained soil. Set the plants eight to 12 inches apart. Keep the soil evenly moist. For this flower I make sure I mulch the ground around the plants.
These flower do well in containers and can be moved around the yard to accent other bright flowers. I usually plant them near a trellis or wall for support from the wind or stake the plants. This is one plant that will topple over in the wind if it gets the chance.
Fertilize the plants every four to six weeks, work in a slow-release fertilizer or use plenty of compost when you fist plant the flowers. With the plants producing flowers up the stalks it uses a lot of energy and needs to be fed to produce well. Prune the plants if you want more flowers.
If you plan on letting some dry, pick the stems when the bells are fully open. Hang upside down in small bunches in a dry, airy place until fully dry. The flowers will eventually fade to pale beige. These flower spikes are great additions to dried arrangements.
Remove the dead plants after fall and collect any seeds if you plan to plant the flower the next year. Give Bells of Ireland a try in your gardens. They will definitely get comments.