Tips on Growing Bells of Ireland
I have a love/hate relationship with these little lovelies. Everyone loves the striking green lines that Bells of Ireland add to an arrangement. Their fresh color is indeed a refreshing component to many color palettes, but have you ever tried to grow them? They aren't particularly hard to grow, but they undoubtedly produce patience. They are quite picky, and they are slow to germinate - somewhere around three weeks or slower!
The first time I tried to grow them I put the seeds in plug trays and waited and waited and waited. I tried cold stratifying them in the freezer and the refrigerator, and I even tried soaking them first. Finally, I just set the plug tray outside and forgot about them. A month and a half later I saw five little sprouts between two 72 plug trays. In a moment where self-control left and frustration took over, I threw the remainder of my seeds onto the ground at the edge of my cut flower patch. And then I forgot them. In two months l saw lots of tiny bell babies happily growing where I had thrown them. That fall I direct sowed more seeds in a new bed in the field. I saw sporadic germination, but many died through the winter. In the spring I direct sowed more seed in the same spot with little result. As I was prepping the beds the following spring, I noticed tiny Bells of Ireland that had self-sowed themselves where I had thrown the seed the year before. I carefully transplanted them to a common location. There, they happily grew and fit beautifully into my bouquet subscriptions!
This year in late summer/early fall a friend helped me direct sow some hardy annuals that can survive through the winter with little to no protection. I let her plant the Bells. They sprouted in 3 DAYS! It made me laugh so hard! I have high hopes for those little guys.
Here are a few quick things I've learned about Bells of Ireland and have put into practice.
- They are a hardy annual and prefer the cooler spring vs. the hot summer.
- They don't like much fussing. Direct sow them where you want them.
- Sow a lot more seed than you think you need to. You can always thin them out later, but it's difficult to fill in the holes if there's spotty germination. You can buy a packet of one thousand seed for $3.15 from GeoSeed.
- Like many flowers, they like good soil. Soil rich in organic matter is best.
- Finally, be patient and keep trying until they work. You've got this!