Friday, January 1, 2010

Bells Of Ireland

Botanical name: Moluccella laevis (Mint Family)
Other name: Molucca balmis, Shellflower, Shell flower

Bells of Ireland is a summer flowering annual, native to Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus. Attractive and unusual bedding plant producing rich olive green bells delightful for use for real flower arranging with their highlighted tones and various shades of green. It is cultivated for its spikes of flowers. The tiny white flowers are surrounded by apple green calyces which are persisent. The rounded leaves are pale green. A member of the mint family, the blooming stems can be cut and used in fresh or dried flower arrangements.

How to grow
sow seed indoors in April. Cover seed lightly. Germinate at temperatures of 55 - 64º F (13 - 18º C). Do not cover with soil, as the seeds need light to germinate. Germination will normally occur within 20-35 days. Harden seedlings off and plant outdoors after last frost. Light: Full sun to partial shade. Soil: Neutral, moist, well-drained.

For cut flowers, cut stem ends and dip briefly into boiling water, and transfer to warm water in a vase. If you want to collect seed for sowing the following year, let flower stalks remain on the plant and collect seed when the seeds turn a dark color and fall out easily.

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