Molucella Laevis is a foliage plant shaped like beautiful small green bells. It’s usually referred to as Bells of Ireland but is native to Turkey and Syria.
This plant is excellent for cutting and drying. Its stems are usually used in bouquets adding a fresh and vibrant feel.
It is also quite a productive plant with masses of stems used for cutting since it is one of the simplest foliage plants you’ll grow.
These pretty bells are only available in one color, green.
The color green of its stalk and its leaves is presumably where the Bells of Ireland got their name.
The flowers are often confused with leaves. However, you can see the tiny flowers within the center, nicely sitting surrounded by the leaves.
These small white flowers provide a nice contrast as they sit comfortably nestled yet stand out in spots to add that burst of color to the otherwise green plant.
|Scientific Name||Moluccella Laevis|
|Common Names||Molucca balmis, Shellflower, Shell flower, Bells-of-Ireland, Bells of Ireland, Lady-in-the-bathtub|
|Indoor or Outdoor Plant?||Outdoor plant|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Water||A medium or moderate amount of water|
|Size||2.00 to 3.00 feet|
|Soil Type||Well-drained but moist soil|
|Soil pH||6.5–7.5 (neutral)|
|Flower||Papery green bells|
|Growing Difficulty Level||Moderate|
Moluccella Laevis Appearance and Characteristics
The vibrant green of this plant is instantly noticeable, and so are its stalks and leaves.
The Moluccella laevis produces a mid-summer to fall bloom of eye-catching flower prickles that bloom into fragrant tiny white flowers.
These little flowery ornaments are enclosed by the big, attractive, bell-shaped, green calyces.
These calyces are covered from top to bottom with each flower spike.
The blooms are visible mid-summer, while the calyces remain in good form until late summer, slowly fading into a lovely beige shade.
Gradually, the calyces become papery, and the seeds appear.
This plant grows to 2-3’ tall. The stems branch out and are covered in oval-shaped, round-toothed leaves that are light green.
You may find some tiny stem thorns, too.
If you like dried flowers, you should cut the flower stems before the seed ripens and hang the stems in bunches in dry places with good air circulation.
Moluccella Laevis Growing Guide
The Molucella laevis only needs good drainage, moist, well-drained soil, and plenty of sunlight to flourish.
The ideal climatic conditions are late summer and early autumn.
Since they are usually grown from the seeds on the plant, they sprout before late fall or early winter.
This perennial herb can grow up to 3 feet tall, with the vines often twisted around each other.
So support the vines separately with sticks or stakes so that you get the most flowers.
Since this is mainly a summer plant, you can plant it in the spring months to withstand the summer heat.
Once transplanted, you should reduce watering. In case it wilts, it will only recover in 5 or more days.
Suppose the soil is saturated; wait for the excess water to drain before you add more.
You can fertilize this plant once a week as it usually produces flowers after about six weeks, and this process can last for six months.
This multipurpose plant thrives wonderfully in both sun and partial shade.
Since the blooms are highly phototrophic, they bend towards any source of light.
So you must store them upright and away from any sort of side-light to keep them growing evenly.
If you keep them in a vase, water them well and regularly trim all the aerial parts at once without damaging them. The sunlight helps the bright-colored foliage.
However, when placed in direct sunlight, the leaves do not look or grow as big and showy as they usually would.
The Bells of Ireland should be planted in well-draining soil even if the quality is on the poorer side.
Loose and aerated soil rich in organic matter or even good all-purpose potting soil are perfect for growth.
The same goes for growing them outside.
If you need more room to grow the plant, use a large pot for more manageable growth.
Light and porous soil are best for its development, while the potting soil should contain well-decomposed organic matter.
You could add fertilizers like compost or manure or even a commercial dry or liquid fertilizer.
Doing this every month results in some beautiful and glossy-looking flowers.
Molasses and sugar also make for good organic fertilizer, as they aid in growth and combat wilting.
Do avoid fertilizing them frequently.
Overfeeding can result in rapid growth and lousy plant quality.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant grows best in arid conditions.
If you live in temperatures below zero, you cannot plant them outside in the fall.
Such harsh conditions will only damage your plant.
For best results, plant them closer to two months before the first frost.
This will give them enough time to establish their roots and to grow a bit.
Potting and Repotting
When using pots, go for containers for easy mobility, especially when shifting them indoors in the winter.
Always use sticks for an upright position to avoid stem bending.
Check the pots for extra foliage at the bottom of the stem and remove it when necessary.
They are more likely to turn yellow quickly after harvesting.
Always make sure to remove any leaves that are below the waterline of your vase.
Cutting the stems underwater with a sharp knife keeps the air pockets from forming in the hollow stems.
Propagating and Pruning
This plant needs a specific microenvironment for its seeds to germinate. They do not spread rapidly by rhizome growth.
To propagate good growth, you need to maintain them well and make sure they are diligently looked after.
Prune the plant regularly by removing spent blossoms as soon as they fade.
Remove any dead leaves or any shoots that arch towards the ground, as they attract pests.
The good thing is that the early summer shoots extend to the ground and replenish the root system.
So you must snip the top half off.
The shoot’s energy is now directed to the roots and prevents any problems in flower production.
They also must be they are harvested throughout the growing season.
Use gloves when pruning or designing, as the stems are covered in tiny thorns that may irritate your skin.
Advantages of Growing Moluccella Laevis
This plant thrives in an environment that has a lot of trees and cool temperatures. So partial shade and plenty of moisture make for a very healthy plant.
If you go for the bell-type of varieties, then gardens with no shade are equally ideal. The fuzzy look is a welcome alternative to other traditional landscape flowers.
They grow in almost any soil condition, which is another benefit. A sunny, well-drained, and sheltered spot results in some good growth.
The duration is usually around 90 to 100 days from seed to flower.
Another great advantage is that this border plant can survive for months as a cut flower. With a supply of freshwater, they can last for 7 to 10 days.
Every time you change the water, you must re-cut 12mm from the base as this extends the life of the blooms. To avoid bacterial growth, remove extra foliage.
For fresh arrangements, you should harvest the flower heads when they are at their peak of blooming.
It can be challenging to use with an oasis foam since the stem is hollow, so you can insert a wired stake into the hollow stem.
When dried, these flowers turn into rustic-colored dry flowers. This usually happens at the end of the summer.
These flowers can remain in full bloom with good ventilation and spice up wedding venues, bouquet arrangements, etc. with their simple and elegant look.
Moluccella Laevis Pests, Diseases, and Problems
This plant needs constant attention as it can wither and wilt or stay soggy depending on the sunlight and water they receive.
It is susceptible to diseases such as fusarium wilt, rust, downy mildew, and whiteflies.
The fusarium wilt turns the leaves a yellowy/brown color, indicating a lack of water.
During the fall, rust which is a leaf infection appears in bright orange, so make sure to chop them off.
The downy mildew occurs in wet weather, causing the leaves to develop a white or gray fungus-like substance on them.
Whiteflies are tiny white insects that stick to the undersides of the leaves and destroy the plant quickly.
Moluccella Laevis Seeds
It is always best to use high-quality seeds for better results.
They are available on Amazon, so you just need to click on the following links.
Bells of Ireland/Shell Flower Seeds
Here are some frequently asked questions on the Moluccella laevis:
Is the Moluccella laevis animal resistant?
Yes, it is especially with animals such as deer and rabbits.
Can the Moluccella laevis be grown in a container?
Yes. Preferably in a larger container for flourishing growth.
Do the seeds self-sow?
Yes, especially if you have planted them in a garden. Once the flowers are dried up, the seeds fall to the ground and germinate
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