10 Popular Campanula Species

A Range of Colors, Sizes, Degrees of Hardiness

'Bavaria blue' campanula flowers with lavender star-shaped petals and leaves

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Bellflowers (Campanula) are native to the Northern Hemisphere. While a few cultivars have golden leaves and are valued as much for their foliage as for their flowers, most are grown for their floral displays. They are generally low-maintenance (once situated in a suitable location), as long as you avoid one of the types that spread aggressively.

Available in shades of blue, lilac, pink, purple, and white, the flowers are cup-shaped, star-shaped, or bell-shaped, depending on the species and whether or not they are fully open. They are planted in spring, and bloom time is often from late spring until nearly into autumn. While the flowers are not typically large, the plants in this genus are showy due to the abundance of their blooms. There is a Campanula well-suited to the needs of almost any Northern gardener since the genus offers a range of sizes and growth habits: There are tall bellflowers great for border plantings, but also bellflowers that stay short and function well as ground covers, edging plants, or rock garden plants, and other varieties in between. Bellflower generally performs best in well-drained soils of a neutral pH and with an average amount of moisture. Give bellflower full sun in the North but partial shade in the South.

There are over 500 species in the Campanula genus. Some are annual or biennial; the well-known Canterbury bells (Campanula medium), for example, is a biennial. To help you decide which works best for your garden, here are 10 perennial types that are particularly popular, both for their beauty and functionality.

  • 01 of 10

    Dalmatian Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)

    Campanula portenschlagiana flower closeup.

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Because it stays relatively short, this type of Campanula makes a good edging plant along a walkway. It spreads via underground rhizomes, so it is an effective ground cover. When planted in less than ideal growing conditions, such as soil with poor drainage, it can be short-lived. The flowers are purplish or bluish and open from a bell to a star-shape at full bloom. Grow the 'Aurea' cultivar for golden foliage. The common name is a reference to the region where the plant is native, which was formerly called "Dalmatia."

  • 02 of 10

    Bluebell, or "Harebell" (Campanula rotundifolia)

    Several flowers of Campanula rotundifolia.

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    The ground-level foliage of this popular type of Campanula takes the shape of a rosette. In fact, the species name rotundifolia refers to its rounded basal leaves. But the overall plant is upright and can reach 20 inches tall or more. Its light blue flowers are bell-shaped and nod to the ground.

    • Native Area: across much of the Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 6
    • Height: 1 to 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 03 of 10

    Creeping, or "Rampion" Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)

    Closeup of Campanula rapunculoides.

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    Although popular, you should avoid planting the rampion bellflower wherever it is considered invasive. Check with your local county extension regarding its status in your area. Its long taproot makes it hard to eradicate. Like Dalmatian bellflower, it spreads via rhizomes, but is a much taller plant. Where it is not considered invasive, it can be admired for its lavender-blue flowers, which grow up one side of the stem. The flowers droop to form the classic bellflower "bell."

    • Native Area: Europe and western Siberia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Height: 2 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 04 of 10

    Peach-Leaved Bellflower (Campanula persicifolia)

    White peach-leaved Campanula.

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    If you want a white bellflower, one option is the peach-leaved bellflower. It grows fast, but the trade-off is that it tends to get leggy. Some gardeners grow it in containers and grow other plants around it to hide its gangly stems. Others grow it in a woodland garden, where its shade tolerance is valued. Yet another popular use for it is in cottage gardens. The flowers are usually lilac or white.

    • Native Area: Europe, Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Height: up to 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Spotted Bellflower (Campanula punctata)

    Spotted bellflower in pink.

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    Options for a pink bellflower include another Siberian native. Spotted bellflower is an upright plant that grows in clumps. The bell-shaped flowers can be either white or pink. The blooms have purple spots inside, thus the common name. It is more sensitive to the heat of summer than many types of Campanula, and thrives only in a narrow range of zones. While heat gives it trouble, this type of Campanula, can spread vigorously and may be too aggressive for more structured gardens.

    • Native Area: Siberia and Japan
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Height: 1 to 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 06 of 10

    Carpathian, or "Tussock" Bellflower (Campanula carpatica)

    Several flowers of Carpathian bellflower.

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    Like the Dalmatian bellflower, this one gets its common name from its place of origin: the Carpathian Mountains. Its cup-shaped flowers most often come in a bluish color. To keep it thriving, provide mulch in summer to keep roots cool; divide clumps in sprin every two years or so to revitalize it; deadhead to promote reblooming; and remove lower leaves that brown up as summer progresses.

    • Native Area: Carpathian Mountains of Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: up to 1 foot
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 07 of 10

    Serbian Bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana)

    Closeup of Serbian bellflower.

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    This Serbian native makes a good ground cover due to its short stature. Spread by vigorous runners, this bellflower species works well on banks and slopes and in wild gardens. Its lilac-blue flowers start out bell-shaped but later open to become stars. Its leaves are oval to heart-shaped. As with other bellflowers, watch out for snails and slugs, which will eat the leaves but are easily trapped or repelled.

    • Native Area: Serbia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 6 to 12 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 08 of 10

    Earleaf, or "Fairy Thimble" Bellflower (Campanula cochleariifolia 'Bavaria Blue')

    'Bavaria blue' campanula flowers with lavender star-shaped petals

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Fairy thimble is native to mountainous regions of Europe, from the Pyrenees, through the Alps to the Carpathians. It is more tolerant of alkaline soils than many other types of Campanula. It is also one of the most cold-hardy types. This mat-forming perennial stays short, so it makes a good ground cover, including in rock gardens where the soil will be kept moderately moist. For the species, flowers can be dark blue, lavender, or white. A popular sky-blue cultivar is 'Bavaria Blue.' The species name of cochleariifolia refers to the shape of the tiny basal leaves, which some see as resembling little ears.

    • Native Area: Alpine regions of Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
    • Height: Up to 6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Milky Bellflower (Campanula lactiflora )

    Closeup of milky bellflowers.

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    The "milky" in this bellflower's name refers to the fact that it comes in white, in addition to shades of blue up to violet (lactiflora is Latin for "milky flower"). This is another type of Campanula that dislikes hot weather, so it is not a suitable choice for the South. As one of the taller species it works well in the back row of a perennial bed or grown against a structure. Protect from wind or provide staking to keep this bellflower upright. If you want a shorter cultivar better suited for the middle row of a perennial bed, grow the 'Pouffe' cultivar (1 to 1 1/2 feet tall).

    • Native Area: The Caucasus
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Height: 3 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 10 of 10

    Great (Giant), or "Broad-Leaved" Bellflower (Campanula latifolia)

    Closeup of giant bellflower.

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    Not to be confused with Campanula lactiflora, the species name for Campanula latifolia is Latin for "broad-leaved." This is another one of the tallest types of bellflower, so it works well in the back row of a perennial bed. Not only its height but also its deep purplish-blue flowers make it one of the showier types of Campanula for the garden. But it readily reseeds, a quality that, in some regions, may earn it the "pest" label. Check with your local extension office before planting.

    • Native Area: Europe, the Himalayas, Siberia, western Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

As you begin the search for the best bellflower for your garden, consider your space and location. Do you need a ground cover or an eye catching display of blooms at the back of the flowerbed. You want to consider the plants heat tolerance and how quickly it may spread. In addition to the 10 popular species listed here, there are many more to choose from and, often, there are several varieties in different colors within a single species. Bellflowers offer the added benefit of attracting pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It is is a good choice for almost any garden and with all the options available today, you are sure to find one perfectly suited to your space.