July 11, 2019

Plant Files: Moluccella Laevis (Bells of Ireland)

It's time to spotlight another favorite plant!
This is only the 2nd year I've grown this one, but it's a winner.

Scientific Name: Moluccella laevis (it took me 3 tries to spell it!)
Common Names: Bells of Ireland, shell flower
I have taken to just calling it Bells...because I'm cool like that.

June 29, 2019

Cold Hardiness: Annual, but it reseeds!
Sprinkle it on the ground in the fall, or let the ripe seedpods fall to the ground and by early spring you'll have baby Bells! 

It can grow to be 18" wide and 2-3' tall under good conditions.
The plants can handle poor soil and drought.
They take full sun, but don't mind part shade, especially morning shade.

Wildlife: Bees love it! 

Floral Design: This is why I grew it in the first place.
It's super useful in floral design. It can be used as filler, as a spike or line element, or even in a stand-alone arrangement. The bright green color blends with anything.
It has amazing vase life, lasting 3-4 weeks.

The scent is interesting. It's sort of a mix between green apple and mint. At least, that's what I smell. Some people say it's straight-up cat pee. In any case, it's a light scent that won't overpower other flowers in the arrangement.

I also love it because you can cut it at just about any stage. If you cut the main shoot out of the middle, the side shoots will continue to develop; so each plant provides several useful stems.

It dries to a beautiful ivory color--though the bells become quite fragile at that point.

A note of caution: Each set of bells has a matching set of spines directly underneath it.
This time of year--earlier in the season--they are soft.
By the end of the summer, they stiffen up and can give break off under your skin. At the very least, they give a painful poke. Last summer I had a couple that hurt for weeks. No joke.
So come August, I'll be wearing gloves to harvest and prep these beauties. 

Just Bells.

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