Italian Bellflower – Campanula isophylla

Italian bellflower, or Campanula comes from Northern Italy where, in its natural state, it grows like a trailing carpet over south-facing rocks. The best campanula for indoor use is C. isophylla. This has pale blue flowers and fresh green leaves. Be careful when handling the stems and leaves: they are very brittle.

It is most suitable for growing in a hanging basket, or in a position where it can trail.

It is fast growing and will soon conceal the sides of the container in which it is grown. It tends to trail or hang, but if you support the trailing stems with a frame or a trellis, or tie them to thin canes, you can encourage a more upright habit.

Colours and varieties There is also a white flowered form ‘Alba’ and another blue form with grey-green slightly hairy leaves called ‘Mayi’.

Recently, other campanulas have been grown as potted plants. C. carpatica has nodding bellflowers in light or dark blue, with a hint of lilac. They are also known as Carpathian bellflowers. C. Poscharskyana has small flowers and is more of a climber, doing well on a frame or trellis.

Display ideasItalian Bellflower - Campanula isophylla

Most are grown as hanging plants, but if you give the trailing stems support with thin canes or stakes, you could use them to cover a narrow window. You could also put them in a saucer on an inverted flower pot. The trailing stems will then hang down and, very soon, conceal the flower pot.

Through The Year

June—September

To ensure good growth and a succession of flowers see that the potting compost is kept moist. Add a standard liquid fertilizer to the water at least twice a month.

Campanulas will tolerate a wide range of temperatures but flowers will last longer if they are kept at cooler temperatures. Single flowers last 3-4 days.

October—January

When flowering stops cut the plant back and let it rest during the winter. Keep in a light place at around 4°-10°C (40°-50°F). The potting compost should be barely moist.

February—May

Around mid-February increase the frequency of watering and gradually raise the temperature to above 15°C (60°F). When the new shoots develop, pinch out a few to use for cuttings. Plant 5-6 in the same pot where they will root after 3 weeks at about 12°C (54°F).

Pests And Diseases

E Leaves turn yellow and shrivel. This is usually due to lack of water, light, or nutrition. Prevention: Keep evenly moist in summer, keep in good light and feed fortnightly.

Long flowerless trailing stems are probably caused by excessive heat. Prevention: Keep out of hot direct sun.

Aphids are occasionally a pest on campanulas.

Prevention: Spray with a suitable insecticide.

PLANT CARE

These delicately flowered trailing plants are easy to care for in summer, but need more care in winter. In summer and autumn remove flowers as they fade. A few months after flowering, cut the stems back 2.5-5cm (1-2in).

  • Potting: You can repot in spring, if you have over-wintered the plant successfully. Plants grown from cuttings taken in February will make good plants to grow on. Pot them in a standard potting compost with a little sand added to improve the drainage.
  • Keep the potting compost evenly moist in summer. If temperatures are very high, water frequently. In winter water sparingly. When flowering, if temperatures are above 18°C (65°F) the flowers wilt quickly. If you increase humidity by misting you will remedy the situation.
  • Feeding: During the growing period and while flowering, feed with liquid plant food every second week.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Keep in bright light throughout the year, but avoid hot summer sun. Campanulas are ‘long day’ plants and need about 15 hours of daylight before flower buds will develop. Supplementary artificial light can induce the plants to bloom a little earlier than August.
  • Temperature: In summer keep it between 15°—18°C (60°-66°F). In winter it needs a temperature between 4°-10°C (40°— 50°F). In February raise the temperature to above 15°C (60°F) to start growth.

Buying Tips

  • Best to buy in early summer for a long blooming period.
  • Choose compact bushy plants with fresh green leaves. Look for plenty of flower buds, and plants just coming into flower.
  • They will last for many years but need special care to survive winters.
  • Trailing stems covered with white or blue bell-shaped flowers, and a busy compact shape, make the Italian Bellflower a good choice for an indoor hanging basket.

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