Blue bells are closely related to the hyacinth family and are one of many spring bulbs. Like other hyacinths, blue bells produce flower stalks in spring that are adorned with many small flowers. Blue bell flowers stand apart because they open in a bell shape that droops from the stalk, unlike the tightly packed clusters of other hyacinth varieties, such as the grape hyacinth. Blue bells have the same planting and care requirements as other spring bulbs, so combine them with daffodils, tulips and other bulb plants if desired.
Plant blue bells in well-drained beds that receive at least six hours of sunlight. Plant blue bells in fall six to eight weeks before the first expected frost, when you are planting other spring bulbs.
Water blue bells thoroughly after planting, moistening the soil to a 6-inch depth. Continue to water once a week until the ground begins to freeze.
Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of straw mulch over the bed after the first fall frost. This mulch helps prevent damage to the bulbs that occurs during the freezing and thawing cycle of winter.
Replace the straw mulch in spring when the first shoots begin to appear. Apply a 2-inch layer of shredded bark or wood chips over the bed to retain the moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth.
Fertilise blue bells with a bulb fertiliser when they first begin growing in spring. Apply approximately 5 tbsp of bulb fertiliser or 6-12-6 analysis fertiliser per each 10 square feet of bed. Work the fertiliser into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil with a hand cultivator, but take care not to damage the bulbs.
Resume watering as needed in spring, maintaining the moisture in the top 6 inches of soil. In general, water when there is less than 1 inch of rainfall in a given week. Spring beds often require less watering due to natural precipitation.
Cut off the flower stalks once the blue bells finish flowering, usually in late spring or early summer. Leave the foliage in place until it begins to yellow and die back on its own, then shear it off at soil level. The foliage replenishes the nutrients in the bulbs after flowering, so it must be left in place until it dies naturally if you want the blue bells to bloom the next year.
Blue bells rarely require dividing, but you can divide them after the foliage dies back if you want to move the bulbs or spread them over a larger area.
Tips and warnings
- Blue bells rarely require dividing, but you can divide them after the foliage dies back if you want to move the bulbs or spread them over a larger area.