Dalmatian bellflowers (Campanula portenschlagiana) are low-growing herbaceous perennials that are often used as edging plants in borders, to spill over stone retaining walls, or to fill in gaps between stepping stones. Like other members of the very large Campanula genus, dalmatian bellflowers have dark green rounded leaves and purple or blue cup- or bell-shaped flowers. This vigorous plant usually blooms from late spring nearly into fall. In many climates, the irregularly-toothed leaves are virtually evergreen, because new leaves are constantly replacing old as the mature leaves fade and turn brown.
|Common Name||Dalmatian bellflower, Adria bellflower, wall bellflower|
|Botanical Name||Campanula portenschlagiana (formerly known as C. muralis)|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||3-6 in. tall, 6-12 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained soil|
|Soil pH||Neutral, alkaline|
|Flower Color||Violet, blue|
|Hardiness Zones||4-8 (USDA)|
Dalmation Bellflower Care
Because Dalmation bellflower has weak stems and an ability to spread via rhizomes, the most natural use of this perennial is as a groundcover. Alternatively, you can train them to grow upward, using a peony ring or similar support structure. Dalmatian bellflowers should be planted in average well-drained soil that remains consistently damp but not soggy. They generally like full sun, but in warmer climates, they will perform better if given some shade. In ideal conditions, this plant will spread fairly quickly, both by extending its rhizomatous roots and by self-seeding.
This plant thrives in full sun to partial shade; the hotter the climate, the more it will appreciate some shade. This species tolerates more shade than most other Campanula plants.
This plant prefers moist but well-drained soil but does fairly well in average soil types without much organic material.
Dalmatian bellflowers have typical needs for water. About one inch of water per week, in the form of rainfall or irrigation, will keep them blooming. Once well established, Dalmatian bellflowers can tolerate short periods of drought.
Temperature and Humidity
These plants perform poorly in climates with hot, humid conditions where night temperatures remain above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They do well wherever conditions are cooler than this in USDA cold hardiness zones 4 to 8.
This is a hardy plant that doesn't require much feeding. A spring application of organic fertilizer or a layer of compost will provide all necessary nutrients. For the amount of fertilizer to use, follow the product label instructions.
Types of Dalmation Bellflower
- Campanula portenschlagiana 'Aurea': One of the most popular cultivars, commonly called golden dalmatian bellflower; attractive golden spring foliage that gradually acquires green tones as the growing season progresses.
- C. portenschlagiana ‘Birch’s Hybrid’: A more upright plant with true blue flowers, with tinges of purple at the margins.
- C. portenschlagiana ‘Resholdt's Variety’: A slightly larger variety, growing to 12 inches high, with lilac blooms.
- Campanula poscharskyana: A different but similar species to C. portenschlagiana, it grows to 12 inches in height; the common name is Serbian bellflower.
- C. carpatica: Another similar species, a mound-forming bellflower that grows 12 inches tall and is available in white cultivars; not a creeping spreader but can be frequently divided and replanted to cover large areas of ground. Common names include Carpathian bellflower and tussock bellflower.
Dalmation bellflowers are herbaceous plants that do not need pruning in the way that trees and woody shrubs do, but pruning or trimming the plants can help promote flowering in summer. Cutting back the dead foliage in fall gets the plant ready for the cold winter ahead.
If your bellflower's blooming tapers off as the summer progresses, shear the plants to encourage additional flowering. Regular deadheading of spent flowers during the growing season will also help prolong the bloom period.
Propagating Dalmatian Bellflowers
Dalmatian bellflowers will readily self-seed, and the offspring plants can be carefully dug up and transplanted to other locations. It is also quite easy to propagate bellflowers by dividing them:
- Cut away a portion of the plant clump at the perimeter, making sure to get both foliage and a section of roots.
- Transplant the section immediately to a new location at the same depth as it was growing previously. Make sure the roots are fully buried.
- Water regularly until established and new growth emerges.
How to Grow Dalmation Bellflower From Seed
Dalmation bellflowers are good candidates to grow from seed to get a head start on the season. Plant the seeds in flats or pots filled with seed-starting mix. Press the seeds into the soil without covering them. Provide light to promote germination, and maintain a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit for two to four weeks. Transplant the seedlings into larger containers or plant them outdoors with approximately 6- to 12-inch spacing. Before planting them outdoors, be sure to harden off the seedlings.
To prepare the plants for winter, wait until the first frost or two has killed the foliage, then cut back the plants to the ground. Cover the soil around the plants with an inch or two of compost, then add a layer of straw or mulch material to keep out weed seeds. Remove the mulch in spring.
If you're not too concerned about winter garden tidiness, consider leaving the foliage intact to protect overwintering insects and small animals.
Dalmation bellflowers are sturdy plants that have few serious insect pests or diseases, but slugs and snails often enjoy feasting on the leaves. Remove them by hand when you see them or use another proven method to trap them.
How long does Dalmation bellflower bloom?
The first flush of blooms usually lasts for a week or so. To get a second crop of blossoms, deadhead the bellflowers after the spring bloom and look for more colorful blooms in the fall.
Can Dalmation bellflower grow indoors?
Though it can be started as seedlings indoors, this plant needs outdoor space to spread rhizomes and thrive.
What are good companion plants to Dalmation bellflower?
To beautify your garden borders even more, consider adding daylily, cranesbill, coral bells, or cornflower along with Dalmation bellflower.