The nettle-leaved bellflower is frugal, undemanding and enchants with pretty leaf and flower decorations. This is how you plant and care for the nettle-leaved bellflower properly.
Profile of nettle-leaved bellflower:
Scientific name: Campanula trachelium
Plant family: bellflower plants (Campanulaceae)
Other names: Coventry bells, bats-in-the-belfry, nettle-leaf bellflower,Our Lady’s thimbles
Sowing time: autumn
Planting time: spring to autumn
Flowering period: July to August
Location: sunny to partially shady
Soil quality: gravelly to loamy, calcipholous, nutrient rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flower beds, group planting, planters, flower garden, natural garden, potted garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 (-37 °C / -35 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of nettle-leaved bellflower
Plant order, origin and occurrence of nettle-leaved bellflower
The nettle-leaved bellflower is one of more than 300 species belonging to the genus of bellflowers and the family of bellflower plants (Campanulaceae). The botanical name, Campanula trachelium, refers to the hairy stem. The plants grow naturally throughout Europe as well as in North Africa and the Near East in and around the edges of light mixed deciduous forests, preferably in beech and hornbeam forests, but also on fallow land.
Characteristics of nettle-leaved bellflower
The nettle-leaved bellflower grows as a herbaceous, perennial, but rather short-lived semi-rosette plant and is absolutely hardy. In spring, the sharp-edged stems, covered with stiff hairs, push their way out of the ground. Depending on the location, the plant grows to a height of 40 centimeters to one meter (16 to 40 in). From late autumn onwards, the shoots retreat above ground. The plant forms a cluster with a diameter of around 40 centimeters (16 in).
The heart-shaped leaves are double-sawn at the edge and also hairy. At first glance, they look very similar to nettles, which is indicated by their name. On the stem they sit alternately, the lower, larger, 2 cm wide leaves are sessile, the smaller and narrower upper leaves are unsessile. The nettle-leaved bellflower is deciduous.
In July and August, blue flower clusters of four to ten individual flowers open at the end of the shoots. Each flower forms a calyx of five intergrown petals that grow to a length of 25 to 45 millimeters (1 to 1.8 in). The edge of the flower is lightly ciliated. When still budding, the pollen is “deposited” on the stylus. As soon as the flowers open, the stylus hairs retract and release the pollen. Especially eager visitors and pollinators are bees of all kinds and bumblebees. Self-pollination is also possible due to the special arrangement of stigmatic lobe and stylus. Another special feature: The blue flowers of Campanula trachelium immediately turn red when a drop of acid is applied.
After withering, nodding, hairy pore capsules form from the pollinated flowers, but the protruding sepals remain. So the capsules can be spread by animals. Furthermore, the very light seeds are scattered by the wind. The nettle-leaved bellflower eagerly seeds itself – if it likes its location and the conditions for the emergence of the seed are right, because they need light and cold to germinate.
Nettle-leaved bellflower – cultivation and care
A sunny to partially shady but still bright place is preferred by the perennial. Although it grows in deep shade, its shoots then become soft and tend to fall over.
Campanula trachelium is quite tolerant regarding the soil: it is fine with both gravel and clay soil as long as it is calcareous. In addition, the plant tolerates both wet and dry soils.
The nettle-leaved bellflower is offered as a potted plant and can then be planted from spring to autumn. A distance of about 35 centimeters (14 in) from neighboring plants is ideal.
Care / Watering / Fertilization
Nettle-leaved bellflowers are very easy to care for. If you want to prevent self-sowing, cut off withered plants before seeds are formed. Some compost and/or horn shavings should be mixed in the soil as a fertilizer in spring.
Since Campanula trachelium usually seeds itself very abundantly, you can simply take these young plants and plant them somewhere else. Also the splitting of the clusters – best in spring – is easy and successful.
Diseases and pests
Nettle-leaved bellflowers can be attacked by a specific rust fungus which, from a certain stage on, carries out a host change from pines to bellflowers.
The Nettle-leaved bellflower is very hardy down to -37 °C / -35 °F. There are no special maesures for wintering necessary
Use in the garden
The wild shrub fits into any natural garden, whether in an exposed sun bed or on the partially shady edge of a hedge or grove. And planted in a wide box or a larger tub, it is an enrichment for balcony and terrace. These perennials are ideal as planting partners: goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus), lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), knotted crane’s-bill (Geranium nodosum), columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris), Siberian bugloss(Brunnera macrophylla) or Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum). The nettle-leaved bellflower can also be beautifully combined with other forest perennials such as great masterwort (Astrantia major), hollowroot (Corydalis cava), stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), spring vetchling (Lathyrus vernus) or Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum).
On the market there is a white-flowered form, called ‘Alba’ or ‘forma alba’, and the purple-blue and double flowered selection ‘Bernice’, about 60 centimeters (24 in) high.