Real World Gardener Bells of Ireland in Talking Flowers

June 6th, 2019


Bells of Ireland: Molucella laevis:

Native to Syria and Turkey and not as Carol Linnaeus thought, native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia.

  • Is it grown for the foliage or the flowers?

Not actually a flower, but instead are amplified calyxes that grow into a flowering plant. Calyxes (or bells) are leaves or sepals that develop into a protective house for the quite small and slightly fragrant, white or pink flowers.

The prominent part is actually the calyx.

Best grown in light sandy soil, the molucella plant also requires a good, openly sunny spot. Flower right through spring, summer and into autumn, Bells of Ireland offer interest.

Can grow to 1 metre tall.


  • Mercedes says that "slip on the heels" if you want to use the stems in a flower arrangement. That means of course that you need to cut the bottom of the stem on a diagonal.
  • Easily grown from seed but cold stratification will help with germination.

How to cold stratify

You can expose them to cold by sowing them outdoors in the Autumn, or by refrigerating them for a week before starting them indoors.

  • Don't just place the seed packet in the refrigerator.
  • Sandwich seeds between moist coffee filters or paper towels in the refrigerator, followed by planting in soil. 
  • Experts say this moist stratification results in a higher germination rate than simply exposing dry seeds to cold temperatures.

I'm talking with floral therapist, Mercedes Sarmini, of

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