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Growing: Bells of Ireland

Botanical Name: Molucella laevis
Life Cycle: annual
Planting Time: early spring after the danger of frost passes
Height: 24" to 36"
Exposure: full sun
Soil: well-drained soil
Bloom Time: summer
Flower: white-veined, green, bell-shaped flowers
Foliage: green
Propagation: seeds, self-sowing
Suggested Use: beds, borders, cut flowers, dried
Growing Hints: Start indoors 8 to 10 weeks before last frost. Keep plants in a cool, bright location. Or since bells-of-Ireland are difficult to transplant, sow seeds outdoors after danger of frost is passed, but while the weather is still cool. Space them 12 to 16 inches apart. Seeds will germinate within 3 to 5 weeks at 50º. Water deeply to encourage root growth. Plants flower for only a few short weeks. To save for drying, cut flowers when fully open and hang upside down to dry.
Interesting Facts: The bell is not actually the flower, but enlarged calyxes (the leaves usually located at the base of flowers). The true tiny fragrant white flowers are located deep within the bells. Named only for their green color, Bells of Ireland are actually native to Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.

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