Posted by Aaron Barton on Mar 4th 2023
Profusely blooming in hues of blues, purples, and pinks, Campanula (kam-PAN-yoo-luh), or bellflower, is a low-growing, salt tolerant, deer and rabbit resistant delight, perfect for adding color to a variety of garden styles including cottage and woodland gardens. Belonging to the bellflower family, Campanulaceae, there are many wonderful Campanula to choose from, not to be confused with the invasive creeping bellflower, Campanula rapunculoides.
Some of the hardiest bellflower cultivars are those of the Carpathian or Tussock bellflower, Campanula carpatica, native to eastern Europe and western Russia including the Carpathian Mountains. A tidy, low mounding perennial with lush green foliage of 8-12” tall and wide, these cultivars bloom from mid-summer until fall, blanketed in abundant solitary cupped blooms in shades of blue, purple, and pink, with five fused petals and a prominent white pistil. Popular varieties include the vivid violet-blue blooms of ‘Pearl Deep Blue,’ as well as the early blooming cultivars, ‘Pristar Deep Blue’ with soft purple blooms, and ‘Pristar White’ with standout large white blooms.
Clustered bellflower, Campanula glomerata, and its cultivars offer an alternative bloom appearance on a slightly taller plant, reaching 12-18” tall and wide at maturity. Native across temperate regions of Europe and Asia and naturalized in North America, clustered bellflower thrives in evenly moist, well-drained soil, intolerant of wet conditions, especially during dormancy. While full sun conditions are optimal, clustered bellflower will tolerate part sun exposure, ideally receiving morning sun and afternoon shade. Blooms rise just above the foliage on stems composed of 15-30 blooms in terminal racemes, or clusters, and in the upper leaf axils around the central blooming stem. Excellent cultivars include the rich blue blooms of ‘Genti Blue’ and bright white of ‘Genti White.’
Minnesota is also home to multiple native species of Campanula, including the biennial tall bellflower, Campanula americana, found in the moist, part or full shade conditions of open woods, meadows, and riverbanks, reaching three to six feet tall at maturity with incredible spires of five-lobed, light blue flowers throughout the summer.