Campanula Trachelium, One Of The Many Species Of Bellflower
Campanula trachelium is one of nearly 300 different species of Campanula, most commonly known as bellflowers. The 300 or so species are made up primarily of perennials, but there are also biennials and annuals in the mix. Hardy in most of the USDA growing zones, the different species feature bell shaped or star-shaped flowers in a variety of colors mainly shades of blue, purple, lavender, pink and white. Most of the Campanula species feature a rosette of basal leaves from which a number of blossom-carrying stems appear. There are both tall and dwarf varieties with plant heights varying from the giant sizes, such as Campanula pyramidalis, better known as the Chimney Bellflower, which can reach a height of 10', to the dwarf varieties, such as Campanula muralis, the Dalmatian Bellflower, which is less than a foot high.
Culture - Campanula trachelium also has its interesting title, the "Bats-In-The-Belfry" Bellflower. According to some observers of the flower, the stamens inside the flowers look bats hanging in side a church steeple. It is also known as the Nettle Leafed Bellflower because of the nettle-like, bristly, characteristics of the leaves. The leaves were in the past to believed to have some medicinal value, and supposedly were used in the treatment of throat infections, hence the name trachelium, which means "neck-like". However there is no scientific evidence to support claims that the leaves have any beneficial effects on the throat, or any other part of the body. Chalk that one up to superstition and folklore. Blossom colors vary for this species, with some plants having clusters of flowers with a mid-blue hue, while others may be white or lilac.
The bell-shaped flowers have long hairs along their edges which make them appear like another group, the bearded bellflowers. This plant normally blooms in mid summer but in some locations will bloom as late as late fall. With its green leaves and red stems, campanula trachelium is indeed a colorful specimen. This perennial species does particularly well in partial shade. It typically attains a height of between 2 and 3 feet, and when planted in borders or beds, the plants should be set out 9 to 12 inches apart. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 though 9 and will do well in soil that varies from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. Once the stems have begun to die back they should be cut back to ground level. If cut back early, the plant will sometimes yield a second bloom.
Propagation - The Bats-In-The-Belfry bellflower is usually grown from seeds, but can be propagated by division as well. The seeds can be collected from the seed pods but the pods should be left to dry on the stems first. One problem with this method is that, if seed pods are allowed to remain on the stems, this species will re seed itself quite freely and new plants could begin sprouting in areas of the garden where not particularly wanted. On the other hand, though the plant is a perennial, it is not considered to be particularly long lived, so allowing it to re seed itself can have some virtues.
This particular species of bellflower has its origins in Denmark and in the United Kingdom, but has spread throughout Europe and also has naturalized in much of eastern Canada as well as New England and the Great Lakes states.
Whether you choose Campanula trachelium or another variety from among the 300 species of bellflower, these flowers make an attractive addition to any garden, and are particularly well suited for an old-fashioned or English garden. This species is quite often grown as a border perennial. The dwarf varieties of the Campanula family make fine choices for a rock garden, and can even be placed in hanging baskets together with a few trailing plants, giving a very nice effect.