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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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Thursday – January 03, 2008

From: Jacksonville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant with bell-shaped flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am in need of a plant name to purchase. It is absolutely beautiful. The plant has light green leaves, the flowers that bloom look like bells (of course they hang upside down) any idea what the name of this plant is?


The plant you describe sounds like a member of the Family Campanulaceae (Bellflower Family)—for instance, Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower). Since Mr. Smarty Plants doesn’t know the color or size of the flower or whether it is native or an introduced ornamental, it’s not going to be possible to give you a more definite identification. If you can photograph the plant and send us digital images, we will more likely be able to give you a name. To learn how to submit photographs, visit Ask Mr. Smarty Plants and read the instructions under “Plant Identification”.

Here are several links where you can see photos of various species of the Campanulaceae and, perhaps, identify your plant:

Images of Campanulaceae Taxa

Plant World: Campanulaceae

Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants: Campanulaceae

Digital Flora of Texas, Vascular Plant Image Library: Campanulaceae

Rob’s Plants: Campanuiaceae

Dave’s Garden: Campanulaceae

The Family Ericaceae (Heath Family) also has plants with flowers that hang down like bells—for instance, Agarista populifolia (Florida hobblebush).

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The world of flowering plants include more than just annuals and perennials. Hundreds of varieties of vines, shrubs and bulbs add beauty and color to the garden.

Want to learn the hidden meanings of each flower? Check out our dictionary of the meanings of each type of flower here and send a secret message.

Allium: Also known as flowering onion, this plant grows from a bulb or from seed, and produces globes of purple clusters of flowers atop long stems. Plant in full sun, in moist but well-drained soil.

Anemone: Also known as windflower, these tuberous flowers produce poppy-like blooms in early-to-mid spring. Plant anemones in full sun or part shade.

Artemisia: This perennial plant is grown more for its silvery, white foliage than for the small, white flowers, but makes an excellent backdrop for more showy flowers in a perennial bed. Give Artemisia (hardy to zone 4) dry, moderately fertile soil.

Alyssum: Classified as a perennial, this plant is grown as an annual in cold climates. Its tiny clusters of blooms are attractive at the edge of a bed or in pots with geraniums or other annuals.

Aster: Asters bloom in late summer to early fall, when many other perennials have faded. They range from varieties that skim the ground, to those towering 6 feet high. The daisy-like flowers come in many colors; the most common shades are purple, lavender, pink, red, blue and white. Plant asters in moist, well-drained soil in a sunny area.

Astilbe: For color in a shade garden, few perennials can beat astilbe. The plants produce feathery, plumelike flowers and fernlike leaves. Astilbes prefer acidic, moist soil and partial shade.

Bachelor Button: Sometimes called cornflower, this plant is more frost-hardy than most annuals, and produce small, multi-petaled flowers. Sow seeds in the garden in early spring in a sunny location.

Balloon Flower: Balloon flowers bring to mind cottage gardens, with their old-fashioned bell-shaped flowers. Plant these perennials in sun or partial shade. They prefer slightly acidic, moist soil.

Bee Balm: Plant bee balm in a perennial bed, but keep an eye on it. This plant can become invasive. The large, bright flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Grow bee balm in sun or partial shade and a rich soil.

Bellflower: This old fashioned perennial has lovely bell-shaped flowers; most varieties are blue, lavender, pink or white. Plant bellflower in sun and provide moist, rich soil.

Blanketflower: Gaillardias, or blanketflowers, thrive in hot, dry locations and produce daisy-like flowers in a variety of hues, such as red, yellow and gold. Many are multi-colored. Plant them in sandy, well-drained soil and don’t overwater them.

Bleeding Heart: This native plant produces spectacular white, pink or red heart-shaped blooms on long, arching stems. Plant bleeding hearts in slightly acidic, moist soil in partial shade.

Bougainvillea: This thorny shrub or vine-like plant grows throughout the Southwestern and Southeastern United States. Its flowers are papery and come in a variety of shades, such as fuschia, pink, white or salmon. It loves heat, full sun and dry conditions. Grow it as an annual in the north.

Broom: Broom is a fast-growing shrub with an open, arching habit. It is covered with yellow flowers in spring. Plant broom in full sun. It tolerates poor, sandy soil and drought conditions.

Butterfly Weed: Butterfly weed is related to milkweed and attracts not only butterflies, but caterpillars. It produces bright flower clusters in early-to-mid summer. Plant butterfly weed in full sun in light, well-drained soil.

Butterfly Bush: Not to be confused with butterfly weed, this flowering shrub can grow 8 feet high, producing long spikes of colorful blooms. The plant is drought tolerant and prefers full sun. In warm locations, it can become invasive.

Camellia: Camellias are only hardy south of zone 8. If you’re lucky enough to live in a temperate region, though, make a place for them in your yard. The fragrant flowers, which range from red to pink to white are 2 to 5 inches wide and bloom in the winter.

Catmint: This fast-growing perennial produces lavender blooms and soft, green-gray foliage. It grows in full sun or partial shade and is very drought tolerant. And yes, cats adore it.

Chrysanthemum: Mums are generally grown as annuals in cold climates. These plants may produce dime-size pompoms to huge, daisy-like blooms.

Clematis: This flowering vine produces extravagant flowers in mid-summer or late fall, depending on the variety. Plant clematis in full sun, but keep its roots cool with mulch or other plants.

Columbine: Columbines grow wild in woodlands throughout the United States, but their lovely, fragile blooms complement perennial beds, as well. Grow columbines in partial shade to full sun.

Coneflower: Daisy-like blooms and easy care make coneflower a good choice for any perennial bed. Black-eyed Susan is a popular variety and may stand 6 inches high to 4 feet high. Purple coneflower produces large purple flowers with iridescent centers. Coneflower prefers full sun and tolerates drought.

Coral Bells: Delicate red or pink bells dangle above wiry stems. Coral bells are hardy to zone 3 and grow well in a shade garden. They prefer moist, fertile soil with good drainage.

Coreopsis: These cheery yellow or orange flowers resemble daisies and grow in almost any conditions. They are short-lived, but self-sow. Deadhead the flowers to keep the plant looking tidy.

Cosmos: Cosmos grow easily, producing light airy flowers most of the summer. They grow as much as 4 feet high and may require staking. Plant them in full sun or part shade. They prefer slightly dry, infertile soil.

Crocus: This spring-blooming bulb pokes its head up long before other plants appear. The flowers come in a variety of colors and resemble small, delicate tulips. Plant crocus in sun or shade. If you have the room, plant them in several locations to extend bloom time.

Cyclamen: Most people think of the exotic florists’ cyclamen that produce large, magnolia-like blooms, but alas, they are only hardy to zone 9. If you live in a northern climate, try hardy cyclamen, hardy to zone 5. The flowers are slightly smaller, but just as beautiful. Plant cyclamen corms in mid-summer.

Dahlia: Once you’ve mastered spring-blooming bulbs, try your hand at summer-blooming bulbs, such as dahlias. These flowers are planted in the spring after the last frost for a summer display of large, multi-petaled blooms. Dig them up and store them after the first few frosts.

Day Lily: Day lilies are often found growing along ditches and in fields, a testament to their low-maintenance style. Plant day lilies in full sun or partial shade. Divide them every two to three years.

Delphinium: These majestic plants are a bit finicky, but earn their keep in beautiful spikes of blooms. They prefer cool summers, rich alkaline soil and moist conditions. Stake tall delphiniums to keep them from toppling.

Foxglove: This old-fashioned plant is a bit hard to grow and may not reliably come back in cold climates. Plant it in partial shade. Foxglove prefers well-drained, moist, fertile soil. Foxglove is toxic.

Gas Plant: The gas plant grows slowly, but rewards the patient gardener with pink or white flower spikes in early spring. This plant prefers full sun to partial shade. The plants produce a gas on humid summer nights. Lore says the gas can be ignited by a match.

Gayfeather: These native American wildflowers produce tall stalks of delicate flowers. Plant them in full sun. Hardy to zone 4.

Geranium: Common geraniums are most often grown as annuals north of zone 7, although they overwinter well in a sunny, indoor location. The flowers come in a variety of colors and the plants have a peppery smell. Grow them in full sun.

Gladiolus: Like dahlias, gladiolus are summer-blooming corms. They produce spikes of colorful blooms. Grow them in a sunny location and dig them up when the first fall frost arrives.

Globeflower: These perennial flowers grow best in partial shade, producing large round flowers in shades of yellow or orange.

Grape Hyacinth: These bulbs bloom in spring, producing clusters of tiny blue or purple flowers that resemble grapes. Plant them in late summer in full sun or part shade.

Hardy Geranium: These perennial plants are not related to annual geraniums. They produce five-petaled blooms from late spring well into summer and prefer partial shade.

Hollyhock: Hollyhocks were the mainstay of the cottage garden for many years. These biennial plants produce papery flowers in a variety of colors on stalks that may grow 7 feet high. Plant them in full sun in moist, rich soil.

Honeysuckle: This old-fashioned vine produces white and gold blooms and may be quite invasive. Plant it in sun or shade and prune them back to control them.

Hosta: Hostas produce white, lavender or pink blooms, but are grown more for their lush green or variegated foliage. Plant hostas in partial to full shade.

Hyacinth: Hyacinths are spring-blooming bulbs that produce spikes of flowers suitable for cuttings. Their sweet scent is also welcome in an indoor arrangement. Plant hyacinth bulbs in early fall.

Hybrid Tea Roses: Hybrid tea roses are among the most common flowers for wedding bouquets. While they take a bit of pampering to grow, the sturdy blooms make lovely, long-lasting flower arrangements. Plant tea roses in full sun, in moist, well-drained soil.

Hydrangea: Think hydrangeas are just for Southern gardeners? Think again. While mophead hydrangeas are hardy only to zone 6, several other varieties, such as ‘Annabelle’ thrive in cold regions. Give hydrangeas moist, slightly acidic soil. Learn more.

Impatien: Choose impatiens when you want a quick burst of color in a shady spot. Impatiens are tender annuals, and usually come in pink, red, white, purple or salmon. Plant them after the last frost. Learn more.

Iris: Iris grow from tubers and bloom in early-to-mid spring before most perennials appear. They spread rapidly, requiring division every three to four years.

Jupiter’s Beard: This fast-growing perennial produces bright masses of pink or red flowers mid-to-late summer. The plant prefers full sun, but isn’t picky about soil.

Kerria: This flowering shrub grows 5 to 7 feet high and produces colorful yellow flowers in late spring. The plant prefers partial shade and well-drained soil.

Lamium: Lamium produces lovely spikes of pink, purple or white blooms, but it is more often grown for its variegated leaves. Lamium is a fast-growing ground cover that thrives in shady conditions.

Lantana: These plants produce lovely clusters of tiny flowers on long, trailing vines. A perennial, grown as an annual in northern climates, lantana work well planted en masse, in hanging containers.

Larkspur: Larkspur are an easy-care alternative to fussy delphiniums, producing tall stalks of airy flowers. Plant these annuals in early spring as soon as the soil is soft. They thrive in full sun, or part shade. Mulch larkspur to keep the roots cool. Learn more.

Lavender: Lavender is lovely growing in masses in the perennial bed, but is equally fine in dried arrangements, wreaths or as fragrant sachets. Spanish or French varieties are generally hardy only to zone 6. Choose English lavender in cold regions.

Lilac: Lilac’s unique fragrance and lovely clusters of blooms last for several days in cut arrangements. Lilac prefers full sun, but tolerates drought and poor soils.

Lily-of-the-Valley: The fragrant, white bell-like flowers of this plant are often included in wedding bouquets, but it is also used as a ground cover. Plant it in part to full shade.

Lobelia: The tiny clustered flowers of lobelia look lovely in hanging baskets. Lobelia are most commonly blue although they may also be white. Give these annual plants moist, rich soil and partial sun in hot climates.

Loosestrife: Loosestrife produces tall spikes of pink or purple flowers, making them a good choice for the back of the garden. They provide vertical interest, but are easier to grow than floxgove or delphinium. They do not require staking. Plant loosestrife in full or partial shade.

Lupine: Tall spikes of flower clusters look spectacular at the back of a perennial bed. Most varieties prefer cool, moist conditions. Plant them in sun or light shade.

Marigold: Marigolds have a distinct, peppery smell that some people find displeasing. The good news is that insect pests may also avoid the scent. Sow marigold seeds in flower beds and around the vegetable garden in late spring, after the last frost.

Mock Orange: Mock orange shrubs bear clusters of fragrant white flowers in mid-spring to early summer. The shrub grows 3 to 6 feet high and tolerates almost any soil type. Plant in sun or part shade.

Morning Glory: This annual vine grows quickly, providing instant color on fences, arbors or mailboxes. The plant is slow to germinate – try soaking the seeds or nicking them with a file –but produces lovely, round blooms all summer. It self-sows and may become invasive.

Moon Flower: This relative of the morning glory vine produces fragrant, night-blooming flowers. Like morning glory, it is an annual north of zone 8.

Narcissus: Whether you call them narcissus, daffodils or jonquils, these spring blooming bulbs provide bright cheer under deciduous trees, in flower beds or naturalized in a lawn. Daffodils are most commonly white, yellow, orange or multi-colored. Deer consider tulips a rare delicacy, but avoid daffodils.

Nasturtium: These tender annuals produce ruffled flowers in a variety of bright colors and round, variegated foliage. Both the flowers and leaves are edible. Plant nasturtiums after the last frost in full sun and dry, sandy soil.

Nicotiana: Also known as flowering tobacco, nicotiana has trumpet-shaped flowers that smell sweet at night. Plant nicotiana in full sun, in well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.

New Guinea impatien: New Guinea impatiens have glossy, variegated foliage and larger blooms than regular impatiens. Grow them in partial shade, in moist, cool conditions.

Oleander: Oleander is an evergreen shrub, hardy only to zone 8 or 9. It produces lovely, fragrant white or pink flowers. The plant is highly toxic.

Pansy: Technically a perennial, pansies are treated as frost-hardy annuals in cold climates. Plant them in early spring for some bright color. They are suitable for annual beds, containers and pots. Pansies don’t tolerate heat.

Passion Flower: These robust, tropical vines produce large, showy flowers and even fruit. The maypop is hardy to zone 6 or 7; other varieties grow in warm climates only. Grow passion flower vines in full sun and light, moist soil.

Peony: Old-fashioned peonies thrive in cold climates and don’t tolerate warm winters, although some new varieties are warm-region adapted. They take several years to become established and may require staking, but their beautiful, lush blooms are worth the wait. Peonies are a popular, if fragile, choice for wedding bouquets.

Petunias: Petunias are frost-tender annuals related to the potato. They come in many colors and bloom profusely from early summer. Plant petunias in beds or containers in full sun. Water them regularly during hot weather. Petunias grow slowly from seed; most gardeners prefer to use nursery transplants.

Pinks: Dianthus, commonly known as ‘pinks,’ resemble carnations and come in a variety of colors and sizes. Pinks prefer full sun and thrive in slightly alkaline, well-drained soil.

Poppy: Oriental poppies produce showy flowers in late spring or summer. Plant them in late summer or fall, in full sun, except in hot climates, where they benefit from partial shade.

Primrose: Primrose come in a rainbow of hues and may stand 3 inches high to over 2 feet high, depending on the variety. All primroses prefer partial shade, moist soil and cool conditions. They don’t tolerate hot climates.

Rhododendron: Rhododendron and azaleas are lovely shrubs, with glossy evergreen leaves and brilliant clusters of blossoms. Unfortunately, they are somewhat picky about growing conditions. They require moist, acidic soil and wind protection.

Rose of Sharon: This shrub produces papery, exotic looking flowers in late summer. The shrub has a somewhat columnar growth and is good for hedges. It grows in full sun or part shade and tolerates most soil types.

Salvia: Salvia spreads quickly, forming clumplike masses with stalks of blue, red or lavender flowers. While it is treated as an annual, the plant self-sows prolifically, so you may have volunteers throughout the garden.

Scabiosa: Sometimes called pin cushions, these plants produce lacy blue or white flowers atop 6 inch stems. Plant a mass of them for the best effect. Scabiosa prefers full sun and moist, slightly alkaline soil.

Scilla: These cold-hardy bulbs produce delicate bell-shaped flowers in early spring. The blooms are most often lavender, pink or white. Plant scilla in late fall in sun or part shade.

Sedum: Sedum produce succulent leaves and thick, padded flowers, often in the fall, depending on the variety. Plant them in full-sun, in a rock garden or other infertile place.

Shasta Daisy: Shasta daisies produce white flowers suitable for cut arrangements, blooming through most of the summer. Plant them in full sun, except in hot climates where they benefit from some shade.

Shrub Roses: Shrub roses are old-fashioned cousins of hybrid tea roses. Their blooms are usually less complex, but more fragrant than tea roses. Plant shrub roses in full sun. They require less maintenance than tea roses, but benefit from yearly pruning.

Silver Lace Vine: Silver lace vine produces clusters of pink or white blooms in late summer, when most other vines and perennials are slowing down. It tolerates poor soil and drought conditions.

Snap Dragon: Snap dragons are perennials grown as half-hardy annuals. They produce stalks of flowers in a variety of hues and bloom long after most annuals are killed off by frost. Sow seeds in late spring in full sun.

Snowball bush: This viburnum grows 8 to 12 feet high and produces large, round clusters of white flowers in mid-to-late spring. Snowball bush isn’t picky about soil types and tolerates drought.

Snowdrops: Plant these bulbs in late summer for an early spring display. Snowdrops are usually the first flowers to appear, brightening a dreary landscape with their white, drooping flowers.

Sweet Pea: Sweet peas are related to garden peas and produce fragrant white, pink or blue flowers on climbing vines. Plant them in early spring since they prefer cool temperatures.

Trumpet Vine: This robust, climbing vine produces fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant it in full sun in slightly dry conditions. Learn more.

Tulip: A large display of spring-blooming tulips makes a stunning and welcome statement when most other plants are dormant. Tulips come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Plant them in fall, choosing heavy, well-formed bulbs that show no signs of rot. Learn more.

Vinca: Also known as periwinkle, vinca is a ground cover that produces glossy, dark green leaves and blue or white flowers in early spring. Grow vinca anywhere you need a fast-growing ground cover. The plant tolerates dry, poor soils and shade.

Wisteria: Wisteria is not for the faint-hearted. These exotic, long-lived vines require a strong support (never a tree) and may become invasive in warm climates. Their violet, white or pink clusters of blooms bloom unpredictably and are easily killed by cold.

Yarrow: Yarrow produce clusters of yellow, white, salmon, pink or red flowers atop long stems. Their airy, grayish green foliage is attractive, as well. Yarrow spread quickly and tolerate drought and poor soils.

The choices may seem limitless, but for great results, choose plants adapted to your area that require little care. Combine shrubs with perennials, bulbs and annuals for a pleasing landscape theme.

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

1 rating

Friday – July 18, 2014

From: Inwood, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Tall plant with bell-shaped upside-down white flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton

2 tall plants grew outside my suburban New York house in June, blossomed late June. They looked like giant asparagus stalks, and the flowers were white, bell shaped, upside down, look like fairy skirts with individual overlapping petals. The petals are very stiff, feel almost like plastic. The flower has no smell at all. No one can identify it, do you know what it is?

First of all, Asparagus officinalis (Asparagus), a native of Europe, Asia and Northern Africa, that has been naturalized all over the US has bell-shaped flowers that can be described as being green to brown, yellow, or white. Asparagus is dioecious (male and female flowers are produced on different plants). You can determine if your plants are male by looking inside the flowers for stamens containing the pollen or, if female, with the pistil and stigma and lack of stamens. Additionally, only females will produce the red berries. Mr. Smarty Plants suspects this is identity of your plant; but, in case it isn’t, here are some native plant possibilities.

To find native plants that match your description, Mr. Smarty Plants did a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database by choosing New York from the Select State or Province slot, Herb” from the Habit (general appearance) slot, “May”, “June”, “July” from Bloom Time and “White” from Bloom Color. This search produced a list of more than 340 native plants in New York that matched these criteria. Mr. Smarty Plants assumed by comparing the stalks to asparagus meant that they didn’t have prominent leaves. You should do the search yourself to see all the other possibilities, but here are four that look somewhat similar to your description.

Aletris farinosa (White colicroot)

Goodyera repens (Lesser rattlesnake plantain)

Monotropa uniflora (Indianpipe) These don’t grow exceptionally tall, but the flowers do match your description. Here is more information from Botanical Society of America.

Uvularia sessilifolia (Spreading bellwort)

Another native plant that matches your description for the stalk and flowers is Yucca filamentosa (Adam’s needle). However, the stalk arises from a clump of long pointed leaves that you wouldn’t likely miss.

If none of the above is your plant and you have photographs of it, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

From the Image Gallery

White colicroot
Aletris farinosa
White colicroot
Aletris farinosa
Lesser rattlesnake plantain
Goodyera repens
Lesser rattlesnake plantain
Goodyera repens
Monotropa uniflora
Monotropa uniflora
Spreading bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia
Spreading bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia
Adam’s needle
Yucca filamentosa

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Silent Bells Beckon (Bell Shaped Blooms)

Flowers are not the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of bells. This, however, is not so with a gardener. They will typically equate anything said in everyday conversation with what is blooming in their gardens.
This is due to the fact that most gardeners live and breath every aspect of what goes on in their beautiful gardens. New and different blooms will add interest to your garden space.

A group of friends conversing about the unique architecture of historical cathedrals in Scotland will, more than likely, bring images of Cathedral Bells (Cobaea scandens) to the mind of a gardener. Not the bells in a stone tower but rather the blue blooms of the vine in their garden.

Talk of the hectic Christmas season will, no doubt, lead the gardener to dream of spring and early summer when the Christmas Bells (Sandersonia aurantiaca) will be blooming. Reading a book containing a story of heartbreak or listening to polical reports on the news about liberals, may lead one to think of the Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis). Thinking of having a chocolate bar or slice of raison bread? Thoughts of the Chocolate Vine/Raisin Vine (Akebia quinata) come to mind.

Bell shaped flowers are some of my favorites. They appear to me as if they will chime at any moment. While searching out bell shaped, (Campanulate), blooms for my own flower bed, I discovered there to be far more than I could grow. All sorts of plants can have bell shaped flowers. They can be found on huge trees, vines, bushes, perennials, annuals, wild flowers and tiny bulbs.

Below, I have compiled a list of bell shaped blooms. They are worth checking out. Adding silent bells will only enhance your garden. For those of you creating fairy and gnome gardens, bell shaped blooms are a must have. The list is meant to be more of a ‘jumping off’ place than a complete list of all bell shaped blooms. I hope you find it useful in your own search for the perfect bellflower.

Canterbury Bells (Campanula medium)
Biennial for zones 4-10 Height 2-3 ft.
Blooms late spring to early summer in pink, blue, purple, and white. Well worth the wait.
Photo by ‘ladygardener1’

European Lily Of The Valley (Convallaria majalis)
Perennial for zones 4-8 Height 6-12 in.
Mid spring to early summer blooms in pink and white.
Photo by ‘wallaby1’

English Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Bulbs for zones 4-9 Height:6-12 in.
Blooms pink, medium blue, white/near white in mid to late spring.
*Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
Photo by ‘KMAC’

Pink CanterburyBells (Campanula medium)
Biennial for zones 4-10 Height 2-3 ft.
Blooms late spring to early summer in pink, blue, purple, and white. Well worth the wait.
Photo by ‘Weezingreens’

Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides)
Tree for zones 5-9 Height: 30-40 ft.
White blooms appear from mid spring to early summer.
*Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested. Pollen may cause allergic reaction. Handling plant may cause skin irritation.
Photo by ‘Wingnut’

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
Perennial for zones 2-9 Height 2-3 ft.
Red, pink and white blooms in late spring and early summer.
Blue-green foliage.
*All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Photo by ‘bsimpson1972’

Chilean Lantern Tree (Crinodendron patagua)
Evergreen tree for zones 9-10 (Try in a sheltered area in zone 8) Height: 20-30 ft. in Chili, where it is native.
White blooms appear in late spring and early summer.(fragrant)
Photo by ‘bootandall’

Carolina Silver Bell (Halesia tetraptera)
Tree for zones 5-9 Height:30-40 ft.
White Blooms in Late Spring and Early Summer
Photo by ‘growin’

Chinese Lantern Lily (Sandersonia aurantiaca)
Vine for zones 9-10 Height 2-3 ft.
Orange blooms in late spring to mid summer
*All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Photo by ‘spur’

Orange Bells (Tecoma ‘X Smithii’)
Evergreen shrub for zones 9-10 Height 8-10 ft.
Bright yellow/orange blooms from late spring through winter.
*Drought tolerant once established.
Photo by ‘rollingourd’

Smith’s Fairy Bells (Disporum smithii)
Perennial for zones 4-8 Height 2-3 ft.
White/near white blooms in mid spring to mid summer.
Likes sun-full shade.
Photo by ‘GardenGuyKin’ Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus)
Tree for zones 5-9 Height:20-30 ft.
White Blooms in Late Spring and Early Summer
‘Photo by ’tillady’

Spotted Bellflower (Campanula punctata)
Perennial for zones 4-9 Height 1 – 1 1/2 ft.
Blooms are rose/mauve or white/near white in late spring to mid summer.
*May be a noxious weed or invasive
Photo by ‘echoes’

Mission Bells (Fritillaria lanceolata)
Perennial (bulb) for zones 5-10 Height 6-12in.
Purple-brown blooms in late winter-early spring.
Photo by ‘Chuck’

Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum)
Perennial for zones 5-8 Height 1 1/2-2 ft.
Chartreuse blooms in mid spring.
Likes a bit of shade.
Photo by ‘DiOhio’

Ladybells (Adenophora confusa)
Perennial for zones 3-8 Height 2-3 ft.
Purple blooms in late spring to early summer.
*Can be invasive if seeds are allowed to drop.
Photo by ‘poppysue’

Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
Evergreen shrub for zones 4-8. Height 4-6 ft.
White blooms in late winter and early spring.
*Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
Photo by ‘CaptMicha’

Yellow Fairy Wings (Epimedium x versicolor)
Perennial for zones 5-9 Height 12-18 in.
Bright yellow blooms in mid spring
Photo by ‘Toxicodendron’

Trailing Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe uniflora)
Evergreen succulent for zones 9-11
Red blooms throughout the year.
Good container plant.
Photo by ‘dale_a_gardener’

Yellow Wax Bells (Kirengeshoma palmata)
Perennial for shade in zones 5-8 Height 2-3 ft.
Pale yellow blooms in late summer/early fall.
*Does not like to dry out.
Photo by ‘growin’ Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Evergreen shrub for zones 4-9 Height: 2-3 ft.
White/Near White blooms mid summer to early winter
Photo by ‘Equilibrium’

Yellow Mountain Avens (Dryas drummondii )
Evergreen groundcover for zones 2-7 Height 6 in.
Bright yellow blooms in late spring to early summer.
*Drought tolerant once established
Photo by ‘kennedyh’

Autumn Snowflake (Acis autumnalis)
Bulbs for zones 7-9 Height: under 6 in.
White/Near White blooms in late summer-early fall
Look best planted in drifts.
*Parts of plant may be poisonous if ingested.
Photo by ‘Howard_C’

Hardy Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica)
Shrub for zones 6-9 Height 4-6 ft.
Fuchsia blooms mid summer through mid fall. Blooms are very colorful including deep purple and red purple shades
Photo by ‘stevenova’

Mountain Andromeda (Pieris floribunda)
Evergreen shrub for zones 4-8 Height:4-6 ft.
White blooms in mid spring
*Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Photo by ‘hczone6’

Bleeding Heart Vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae)
Evergreen vine for zones 10-11 Height 10-12 ft.
Red and white blooms in late spring and early summer
Photo by ‘Rozilynn’

If you are interested in a more in-depth explanation of flower structure, LariAnn Garner’s articles, Botany for Gardeners – The Basics of Blooms and Botany for Gardeners – More Blooms: Simple to Complex, are perfect ‘first reads’. Speaking of blooms, she says in her article, More Blooms: Simple to Complex, “As gardeners, we all know that flowers are not all the same. In fact, the diversity in bloom structures is mind-boggling at best.” She goes on to explain why this is, in terms easily understood by the average backyard gardener.

Finally, for one of the most well known bell flower plants,
the Brugmansia, also known as Angel Bells and Angel Trumpets

x candida pink

Brugmansia x candida
single white


Photos by ‘Vee8ch’

For more on Brugmansia plants, consider a visit to the Brug
forum on Dave’s Garden. You will find it here.

Happy Gardening~

All photos are from Dave’s Garden members including thumbnail photo, Crown Imperial Fritillaria (Fritillaria imperialis) by member Galanthophile .
To find more information on the plants depicted here, go to Plant Files.
(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 28, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

Named for their commonly bell-shaped blooms or saucer-shaped blooms, there are literally hundreds of types of bellflowers. They are most commonly seen in shades of blue and purple and are often used as ornamentals in the garden.

Gardeners love bellflowers due to their delicate look and the fact that they are typically very low maintenance to grow. They are originally woodland flowers that are typically native to North America, so they will thrive in moist soil and areas of full sun.

Although there are hundreds of types of bellflowers, we’ve put together a list of 10 truly stunning varieties of bellflowers that will thrive in most gardens with moderate climates.

1. Korean Bellflower

These bellflowers have blooms that are a stunning shade of deep, rich, royal purple. They have long, bell-shaped flowers that hang upside down in clusters from their stems. They have bright, green foliage that even increases the richness of the purple petals. They prefer to grow in full to partial sun in zones 3-8 and have a light perfume that is exceptionally pleasant. It is often called the “Elizabeth” bellflower and will bloom from early summer into early fall.

2. Adriatic Bellflower

Also called “Dickinson’s Gold,” these bellflowers are known for their deep green foliage that produces tiny clusters of flowers that vary in color from blue to light lavender and have teeth-like petals. These little flowers pop out throughout the entire plant. This plant will grow in size rapidly, so it is best to plant them in an area where they have room to expand over time. This plant will grow best in zones 1-6 and can withstand a slight bit of frost. It makes an excellent addition to any border wall, as its tiny blue leaves will spill out nicely in a way that resembles a cottage garden.

3. Bluebell

These spunky little flowers contain attractive, trumpet-shaped blooms that hang loosely from central foliage that grows around 2-3 feet in height. Their flowers are exceptionally delicate looking due to their slender design. Gardeners prize these summer-blooming flowers due to their tendency to sway gracefully in the summer breeze. Bluebells will grow well in most soils. However, they are originally a woodland plant, so adding some organic matter to the garden where they grow will help them bloom faster and last longer.

4. Peach-Leaved Bells

One of the most popular varieties of bellflowers, these flowers aren’t peach in color at all but range from white to a light purple. Also called the campanula persicifolia, they are prized by gardeners because they bloom nearly the entire year. They attract bumblebees and honeybees that help them pollinate and spread to other areas of the garden. There are two common varieties: “chettle charm” and “blue-eyed blonde.”

5. Serbian Bellflower

This flower is often called the blue waterfall because it produces a show-stopping amount of small, lavender blooms. Each flower is perfectly star-shaped and they will bloom from spring to early fall. Gardeners love the Serbian bellflower because it is exceptionally hardy and requires little to no maintenance, also resistant to deer and garden pests. They grow between 4-6 inches in height. It can be an invasive plant due to how quickly it spreads. Gardeners should continually cut this particular flower to keep its growth under control. Serbian bellflowers prefer either full sun or short periods of shade and grow best in warmer zones.

6. Dalmatian Bellflower

While many people think this flower is named for the breed of dog, it is actually named for the Southeastern Europe country of Croatia. This flower will stay green all through the colder season and will bloom best with continual trimming once the leaves begin to turn brown. These bellflowers grow best in zones 4-7 and will do best in full sun. They also prefer very moist soil and should be watered daily.

7. Canterbury Bells

This flower is a true garden show-stopper. It has delicate clusters of pink, bell-shaped flowers that are exceptionally gorgeous in color. Canterbury bells are easy to grow and require little maintenance. They are adored by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. They grow from 12-19 inches and will grow best in zones 4-10. They prefer either full sun or partial shade and grow best in moist soil that is watered daily.

8. Carpathian Bellflower

These lovely bellflowers come in shades of blue and purple. They take a long while before they begin to bloom, but they look stunning in a rock garden, border edge or a raised pot. They bloom in early spring for a few weeks, but they have a certain degree of elegance to their blooms. They grow well in moderate climates and prefer partial shade.

9. Campanula Lactiflora

These milky bellflowers produce stately, star-shaped flowers that tend to be soft lavender in hue. They look excellent as a garden border or alongside a fence due to their rich shade of color and the fact that they have a sense of romance about their large clusters of bloom. They serve well to keep deer, rabbits, and other garden pests away for your garden, making them practical as well as lovely. They grow best in zones 5-8.

10. Clustered Bellflower

As the name implies, these flowers grow in small clusters of flowers that have bell-shaped blooms. They grow 6-24 inches in height. They prefer to grow in moist soil and will spread out quickly over a short period of time. They bloom in the late spring and will last only into early summer. However, they are truly stunning and worth planting them for the short period they do bloom.


Flowers That Look Like Bells

foxglove image by david purday from

There is something truly enchanting about bell-shaped flowers. It’s a treat to watch bees crawl in and out of them gathering pollen, and it’s always a pleasant surprise to stumble upon such a plant at the edge of a wooded area. There are tall and short versions of these flowers.

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

lily of the valley image by Olena Turovtseva from

Lily of the valley was introduced to American by European settlers. It has since become naturalized, thriving in shady, damp soils, often in areas where the ground has been disturbed. Two tall, bright green leaves surround a single stalk – called a raceme – of the same color that is adorned with small, white, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers have a very pleasant fragrance and lily of the valley is grown commercially for the perfume industry.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Foxglove image by Jeffrey Banke from

Foxglove grows in the wild in the acid soils of the forest floor and in mountain grasslands. Foxglove is a biennial that grows up to 4 feet tall and attracts bees, as well as butterflies and hummingbirds. These plants will thrive at the shady edge of a garden and will only do well in full sun if the soil is very moist. According to Plants for a Future, one foxglove plant can produce up to 2 million seeds.

Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis)

Bells of Ireland originated in Western Asia, Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus. The green, bell-shaped part looks like a flower, but is actually the calyx, or the leaves, in the center of which sits a small white flower. These plants do well in cool, damp areas, such as the Pacific Northwest; they will not thrive in heat and humidity. It does very well as a container plant, and according to Rainy Side Gardeners, the flowers are a symbol of good luck.

Christmas Bells

Another name for Christmas bells is Chinese lantern lily. The plant is adorned with small yellow, orange or cream-colored flowers that resemble small lanterns or bells. The flowers hang from delicate green stems. This plant will climb if provided support.

Cathedral Bells

Cathedral bells are also known as cup and saucer vine. It is a fast-growing annual vine that can reach heights of 10 to 25 feet tall and will spread as wide if used as a groundcover. According to Cornell University, the flowers are green when they open then gradually change color, turning purple or white. Cathedral bells bloom all summer into fall.

Canterbury Bells

Canterbury bells might be pink, rose, lavender, white or blue. The bell-shaped flowers curl up at the edges and possess a calyx of the same color as the flower. This flower is tall and popular in cottage gardens, according to Rainy Side Gardeners. It makes a bold statement as a mass planting, and is also well placed as a border plant or in a cutting garden.

Convallaria majalis

The first time I encountered lily of the valley, I smelled it before I saw it.

I was hiking near a forested swamp and was caught off guard by something that smelled pleasant. But aren’t swamps places for fetid odors and that delicate, lingering stench of standing water? I wondered what it could be.

I followed my sniffer and spotted a large patch of green-leaved plants with stalks of hanging white flowers. It took half a moment to identify what I was seeing because absorbing plant and animal ID guides was a favorite pastime when I was growing up.

These white flowers left an impression on me, and I knew they had to go in my family’s garden. It took some shopping (this was before smartphones and the “Everybody Gets a Website” age), but we acquired some and planted them. Beautiful, fragrant flowers, here I come!

Flash forward a couple of years and that little patch dedicated to lily of the valley grew into a huge swath of nearly uncontrollable green. It took a few seasons of dedicated removal, but we did finally curb the lily of the valley, and added some plastic barriers to prevent it from spreading more in the future.

It’s a beautiful plant with a delightful and aromatic scent, but adding it to the garden without the right preparation can lead to major headaches in the future. Let’s get into what lily of the valley is all about, and how to add it to your yard and garden with minimal future fuss.

What is Lily of the Valley?

Botanically known as Convallaria majalis, lily of the valley grows naturally throughout the northern hemisphere in Europe, Asia, and North America. Also known as May bells, May lily, muguet, Mary’s tears, and Our Lady’s tears, the plant is highly scented flowering herbaceous perennial that normally grows in woodland and forested settings and in cooler, temperate regions.

C. majalis is a perennial plant. Two basal leaves grow from the ground and have a lovely flower stalk that pops from between, and it is adorned with up to 15 tiny, fragrant, bell-shaped flowers.

In cooler climates, the leaves can stay year-round, but they tend to shrivel and disappear during hot weather.

Lily of the valley is related to asparagus and grows through stolons and rhizomes, spreading out into huge colonies. This eagerness to spread is why it becomes so difficult to tame in the garden, unless properly restricted.

A Beautiful Standard

Many countries in Europe are awfully fond of lily of the valley. It’s a traditional (and expensive) bridal bouquet flower for weddings, including the bouquet used in the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

It’s the birth flower of the month of May, the time of year when lily of the valley is most often in full display. C. majalis is also the floral emblem of Yugoslavia, and is Finland’s national flower.

In Christian mythology, lily of the valley is said to have sprung from the ground where the Virgin Mary’s tears fell during the crucifixion. Alternatively, the plant is said to have sprung from the ground when Eve weeped for being kicked out of the Garden of Eden.

The attention to Christian mythology is what earns the plant its nickname, “Mary’s tears.” It also spawned a popular gospel tune by Willie Nelson. It isn’t my style, but hey, maybe you’ll enjoy it!

Beautiful But Poisonous

C. majalis is incredibly toxic. Seriously, every part of the plant is poisonous.

If you’ve got it in the yard or see it in the field, make sure children and animals abstain from eating the red berries, or chomping on the leaves or flowers.

The plant possesses nearly 40 different cardiac glycosides, an organic compound used to treat congestive heart issues. However, in anything but accurate and meticulously measured amounts, these toxins can prove to be deadly.

Lily of the valley produces a very rare amino acid as well, but this also contributes to the toxicity of the plant.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so wash your hands after handling C. majalis to avoid accidental contamination.


The plant generally spreads by forming large colonies through rhizomes (underground root-like stems) from which it produces upright spiky shoots (often called “pips”) at the end of the stolons during the summer.

The pips grow to into 6–12 inch stems and produce one or two 4–10 inch upright dark-green, spear-like leaves. All of the upright stems remain connected underground with other shoots and form large colonies if left unchecked.

Lily of the valley can also spread itself by producing orange-red berries with several seeds each.

However, the plant is self-sterile meaning that it requires multiple individual plants for pollination that aren’t connected by a rhizome/stolon structure. If a mass of Lily of the Valley is based from one single plant forming a colony, they’ll never grow berries.

Bloom Type

Lily of the valley produces strands (raceme) of five to fifteen small, bell-shaped flowers form as strands on top of a single stem above the leaves. Each bloom consists of six white (most common) or pink tepals. The flowers are extremely fragrant and are used in perfumes and potpourri.

As previously mentioned, these flowers can produce red berries with seeds if conditions are right.

Bloom Time

Lily of the valley typically flowers in early to mid spring for three or four weeks – which is significantly longer than most other spring perennials. In colder climates their bloom time may start later and extend into early summer.

This fragrant woodland perennial can also be used as a houseplant and be forced into blooming anytime of the year.

Growing Conditions

C. majalis is at its best in areas with a cool winter, although it will grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 2-9.

I spotted my first lily of the valley adjacent to a low, wet, and swampy patch in the forest. In the years since then I’ve encountered C. majalis in similar locations, and its preferred habitat tends to include a few key features:

  • Shaded from the sun, often growing around the base of trees
  • Rich, slightly acidic soil (pH 6-6.5), like the kind you’ll get from the forest floor
  • Moist and well drained soil
  • Space to spread out and grow

When we plant lily of the valley in our yards, it’s our goal to duplicate these conditions as best we can.

Planting for Success

This is one of those garden additions that grows like wild, but only when the right conditions are met. I’ve got a patch of it growing in my front yard underneath a yew hedge that is very unhappy, so believe me when I tell you: you want to make C. majalis happy.

Luckily, it’s easy to take care of that. Here are some things to keep in mind:


Lily of the valley really digs its time in the shade. I think it does the best when it gets some morning light, maybe a few hours worth, and gets to kick back in the cool shade from about 10 a.m. onward.

Although it can handle more sun, in exchange, it needs much more water to perform. And in conditions that are too sunny, it simply won’t bloom.

As the season carries on and we are bombarded with summer sun, expect to see your C. majalis wilting, getting crispy, and looking otherwise unpleasant. This is a natural and expected phase for the plant.

Simply cut back and remove the leaves once they’re more crispy than green to clean up the area.


This plant is a fan of plenty of water and good drainage. Most of the wild lily of the valley I’ve encountered was growing on a slope where it received plenty of water runoff, but didn’t sit in stagnant pools.

If your location for lily of the valley is in a sunny locale, it’ll need plenty of extra water.

This was, I think, the primary failing of my own chunk of C. majalis. The front yard outside of my house is very dry and seemingly impossible to keep wet with a hose. I started using a soaker hose near the high point of summer and it worked well; just keep in mind that the longer your run of hose is, the weaker the pressure is going to be.

Swan Miracle Gro 25-Foot Soaker System

Try to keep your hose length at 25 feet or so. I purchased this product, available from Amazon, and have no complaints. I run a length of 20 foot hose from the spigot to the soaker hose and it works wonderfully.

Mulch aids in watering, but we’ll touch on that in the next section.



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Product photos via Swan, Bonide, and Burpee. Uncredited photos: .

About Matt Suwak

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.

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