Italian Bellflower, Star of Bethlehem
Ground covers, Perennials, Flowers
Campanulas are most often recognized by their blue or white flowers (they also come in pink, violet, and lavender). Usually, flower stalks rise above basal leaf rosettes. The perennial species tend to spread from the root; width depends mainly on the vigor of their rootstocks and the time they have been in one spot. Flowers are generally bell shaped, though some are star shaped, cupped, or round and flat. Bloom comes at some time from spring to fall, depending on the species. Native throughout the Northern Hemisphere; those featured here come mostly from southern Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, and northern Asia.
Uses are as varied as the plants. Gemlike miniatures deserve special settings—close-up situations in rock gardens, niches in dry walls, raised beds, or containers. Trailing kinds are ideal for hanging pots or baskets and wall crevices; vigorous, spreading growers serve well as groundcovers. Upright growers are valuable in borders, for cutting, and occasionally in containers.
Campanulas grow best in good, well-drained soil. Most species are easy to grow from seeds sown in spring or early summer. Set transplants out in fall for bloom the following year. Also may be increased by divisions or cuttings. Divide clumps in fall every 3 or 4 years; some may need yearly division. Some species seed freely, and a few have invasive tendencies; may be difficult to remove when entwined with roots of shrubs, trees, or other perennials. For these species, choose sites carefully. Some campanulas are attractive to slugs and snails. Watch for spider mites in hot, dry weather.Campanula isophylla
Trailing or hanging soft stems to 2 ft. long, becoming woody at base. Round or heart shaped, light green, toothed, leaves, 1–1 1/2 in. long and wide. Loose clusters of upward-facing, 1-in.-wide stars in white or light blue, depending on variety. Blooms in late summer, fall (nearly year-round in mildest climates).
Good in hanging baskets, wall pots, top of walls, or rock gardens in filtered shade. Choice groundcover for small areas on slopes in mild-winter climates. Indoor/outdoor plant where winters are cold.
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