In many parts of the country and even in other countries, many plants have been trialed and tested by gardeners and horticulturalists alike. However, here in the central Great Plains, many nurseries and gardeners take for granted our own unique growing situation and use plant recommendations that may not belong to us. With extreme temperature changes from winter to summer, late and early freezes, powerful northwest and southern winds, and moisture swings, we live in a difficult area, botanically speaking. Therefore, I prefer to test plants in my own garden before recommending them onward to customers and friends.
All that being said, trials are in place right now for bellflowers. I am in my 3rd year of trialing these shade lovers. After discovering an American native, Campanulastrum americanum in woods, I knew I would want to have more of these and similar species in my garden and to recommend. I have seen creeping bellflower Campanula rapunculoides in my grandmother’s garden in Cloud County, KS ans knew it was a tough, short-blooming perennial creeper. However, there are many species and cultivars of bellflowers to choose from.
Campanula glomerata, clustered bellflower, is where the most exciting cultivars are coming from. This bellflower produces loads of small, semi-upright flowers clustered near the top of the flower stalk, for 2 to 3 months of late spring into early summer. In my own garden, I have ‘Genti Blue’ a deep purple-blue flowering cultivar that has done excellent for me in full sun and part shade, and ‘Genti Twisterbell’ which is supposed to have blue and white flowers on the same plant, but did not flower in 2018, but developed a nice cluster of leaves and grew its root.
Another favorite among gardeners is Campanula punctata or Spotted Bellflower. Spotted bellflower produces large, hanging bells on plants that spread slowly through the shade garden. I have a nice purple one in my walnut trial garden that bloomed nicely in 2018. These work great as a groundcover under trees in part shade.
Still trialing in my garden are Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Waterfall’ (Serbian Bellflower), Campanula carpatica (Carpathian Bellflower), and Campanula persicifolia (Peachleaf bellflower). As my trials progress I will update you on the results of these bellflowers.