Gardening: Know your campanula before planting

The genius campanula commonly known as bellflower encompasses a large selection of perennials, biennials and annuals. Some varieties are garden friendly, others need controlled and then there are the ones that should only be used in places where nothing else grows such as dry slopes or deep shade. Of the last group, campanula rapunculoides, commonly known as creeping bellflower or Rocky Mountain bluebell is on the Alberta’s noxious weed list. This hardy plant has escaped from homesteads throughout Alberta and is making its way into pastures and fields. The plant is also commonly found in older yards. It spreads by rhizomes and withstands drought conditions.

Bellflowers are easily identified by the shape of their flower tubular, bell or star shaped. The most common flower color is blue but dependent on the variety campanulas are available in white pink, and different shades of purple.

Growth habits are, upright, hanging or clumps. It depends on the variety or sometimes even the cultivar if the roots spread quickly by rhizomes or stay in a localized area.

Clips, blue or white, campanula carpatica, is a popular variety that is hardy to Central Alberta. The plant grows in clumps that need to be split every three of five years depending on the soil conditions and the amount of sunlight it receives. If the clump is allowed to grow too large the flowers slump to the edges leaving a bare spot in the middle. Clips will thrive in full sun to partial shade. Place the plant near the front of the border as it is relatively short. In wet years, slugs can be a problem.

Older varieties of clustered bellflower campanula glomerate is commonly found in older neighbourhoods where it has been given or creeped between yards.

The plant is great to fill in large areas or places with poor soil but only named varieties that are purchased from a reputable seller should be used in a flowerbed.

Named varieties have been chosen as they do not have aggressive roots and will stay in small clumps. The plants are available in white or purple and reach a height of 12 -14 inches (30 – 35 cm).

Peach-leafed bellflower campanula persicifolia spreads through shallow roots that spread outward making a larger clump but can be easily controlled.

Take time to deadhead as seeds are viable and can lead to a large number of plants.

The plant itself consists of low growing leaves coming from a central point.

Strands of flowers start appearing in early July and continue can continue into August depending on the weather and plant location. Look for this plant in blue, white and with single or double flowers.

Harebells, campanula rotundifolia, are native to Alberta. Do not dig these in the wild to move into a flowerbed as the plants do not adapt to the richer garden soil and less plant competition. Purchase varieties on the market that have been selected for domestic use. Harebells have very slender stems that hold one or two bells aloft. Their roots will spread outwards but they will grow well in clumps adding a blue clump to the garden for a couple of weeks. Deadheading is necessary as the plants come easily from seed.

Canterbury bells are a biannual which means that it becomes established the first year and blooms the second. Expect the flowers, white, pink or blue to start blooming in the spring and continue into the summer. The height of plant depends on the variety but it will range between 24 to 36 inches (60-90 cm). The large flowers and stunning display make waiting a year worthwhile. Place the plants in a location where they will be covered with snow during the coldest months. Exposed plants are prone to winterkill.

There are a few varieties of campanula that can be a problem but for the most part, the add color and shape to the garden. Know the plant before adding it to the garden.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at

Just Posted

Council raises concerns about cannabis smoke and health

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

Red Deer woman hopes stolen guitar will be returned

Stolen guitar belong to her late mother

Penhold climber’s death a reminder of the dangers of scrambling

He never returned from his Mount Smuts attempt on Aug. 12.

Children, elderly at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

VANCOUVER — Thick smoke blanketing British Columbia communities far from any flames… Continue reading

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Scheer going to India to ‘repair’ relationship after ‘disastrous’ Trudeau trip

OTTAWA — Six months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy prowess… Continue reading

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month