Campanula medium - Canterbury Bells
A much loved cottage garden plant, Campanula medium or 'Canterbury Bells' come in many varieties, including the 'cup and saucer type', all available to be grown from seed. These Bellflowers are an easy care plant, a must for the Cottage Garden or border.
Growing Canterbury Bells from seed
Two types of Canterbury Bells are available, the first is C. medium with the classic simple large bell shaped flower and the second is C. medium var calycanthema the wonderful cup and saucer bells, a semi double look. Both are biennials and both are campanulas that are commonly called 'Canterbury Bells'.
- If you are going to collect your own seed, let the seed pods dry on the plant until they are brown and feel dry to touch.
- Snip of the seed pods and then just shake onto a piece of paper or directly into a container .
Preparing the soil before planting
As a biennial they actually grow best from seeds, although you can buy potted plants, if you do look for larger plants, they seem to do better.
However from seed you need to prepare the ground well, weed, dig over and then prepare the patch where you want to plant then and then rake over to great a fine textured sowing bed. Some growers top up with a fine soil (almost a seed raising mix). We have used some fine rehydrated coir peat mixed into the top layer of soil, it retains moisture and makes a good bed for the seeds.
Do not dig in lots of nitrogen rich animal manure campanulas seem to like a poorer soil.
Sowing Canterbury Bells seeds
Seeds are best sown directly in spring or autumn, they can be sown directly into a well prepared soil. Remember not to cover the seeds except with a with a light sprinkle of fine soil as they do need light to germinate. Sow lots of seeds and then thin, this makes sure you will get a good clump. You can try to 'relocate' the thinned seedlings.
- Why sow direct? These are seed that tend to 'damp off' when sown in trays.
- Once they form good sized plants you can thin again if needed and relocated or perhaps give some to the neighbours.
- Keep moist until they germinate and show good sings of growth. We water as needed with a liquid seaweed fertiliser, seems to work well. Do not mulch before they germinate.
- The first year will be a little disappointing, a clump of leaves and no flowers. This will die back in winter, a good time to ad some well rotted mulch. The second year they should flower, tall spikes of flowers rising above the green basal foliage.
- In a clump they tend to self support, you may need to stake if you really want upright flowers. Excellent as cut flowers.
As the blooms die back its decision time, do we want to deadhea d to hopefully get a second flush of flowers or do we want to let the seed pods set so we can collect seeds.
In any case, leave some seed pods to 'self seed' and you will think you are growing a perennial after a few years rather than a biennial.
- Basal foliage
A large flat rosette or clump of foliage near the ground
A plant that grows from seed and puts on foliage in the first year and flowers in the second and then dies
A plant that grows from year to year and flowers each year
- Self Seed
Seeds that fall from the plant and 'sow themselves'
And if anyone says that Canterbury Bells can be easily grown indoors, they are not a gardener.
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