Canterbury Bells

Canterbury bells, is an annual or biennial flowering plant of the genus Campanula, belonging to the family Campanulaceae. The name for Canterbury bells comes from campanula meaning "little bells," an accurate term, since the flowers are bell-shaped. Common names include Bell Flower, Saint Thomas Bell, Mercury Violets, Mariettes, Lady’s Nightcap, Gingerbread Bells, Fair-In-Sight, Coventry Rapes, Coventry Bells, and Cup and Saucer. The botanical name of canterbury bells are Campanula medium. In floriography, it represents gratitude, or faith and constancy. Campanula medium originates in southern Europe. It is naturalized in most of European countries and in North America and it is widely cultivated for its beautiful flowers. It grows on stony, rocky and bushy slopes, at an altitude of 0–1,500 metres (0–4,921 ft) above sea level.

This biennial herbaceous plant forms rosettes of leaves in the first year, stems and flowers in the second one. The stem is erect, robust, reddish-brown and bristly hairy. The basal leaves are stalked and lanceolate to elliptical and 12–15 cm (5–6 in) long with serrated leaf edge. The upper leaves are smaller, lanceolate and sessile, almost embracing the stem. The flowers are arranged in a racemose inflorescence of extremely long-lasting blooms. These attractive bell-shaped flowers are short-stalked, large and hermaphroditic, with different shades of violet-blue or rarely white. The corolla has five fused petals with lightly bent lobes (known as a coronate flower type). The flowering period extends from May to July in the Northern Hemisphere. The flowers are either self-fertilized or pollinated by insects such as bees and butterflies. The seeds ripen from August to September and are dispersed by gravity alone.

Table of Contents


20 - 48 inches

Width-Circumference (Avg)

12 - 18 inches

Approximate pH

6.0 - 8.0

Types of Canterbury Bells

  • ‘Champion Pink’: This pink flowering variety can grow up to 65 cm tall and likes damp conditions

  • ‘Caerulea’: The ‘Caerulea’ variety likes full sun; its blue flowers are double with a second ring of petals; this makes it an absolute eye-catcher in your own garden

  • ‘White double’: This variety is also double; its white flowers appear from May and persist into August

  • ‘Blue Cups’: The flowers on the up to 75 cm high inflorescences of this variety shine in deep blue

  • ‘Bells of Holland’: Can grow up to 18 inches tall; pink, purple, or white flowers

  • ‘Alba’: Can grow up to 24 to 36 inches tall; white flowers

  • Double Melton Bells: 3’ tall plants with double blooms in dark and pale pink, or dark purple.

Growing Canterbury Bells

How to Grow Canterbury Bells From Seeds

  1. Sow the seeds in a tray filled with potting soil in late winter

  2. Sprinkle a light layer of vermiculite over the seeds.

  3. Using a spray bottle of water, mist the vermiculite to keep it evenly moist but not soggy

  4. Maintain a temperature of 65˚ to 70˚ F.

  5. When the seedlings emerge three to four weeks later, place the tray on a sunny windowsill and keep the soil evenly moist

  6. In mid-spring, begin hardening off the seedlings.

  7. Transplant the seedlings into your garden once frost has passed

How to Get Canterbury Bells to Bloom

Canterbury bells bloom bell-shaped, pink, blue, white, or purple flowers in the early spring through midsummer. They produce a sweet fragrance, sometimes thought to smell minty. Deadheading the flowers promotes growth throughout bloom. Attentive care and proper watering practices will help Canterbury bells bloom fully.

Canterbury Bells Care

Canterbury bells are easy to plant and care for. They grow best in full sunlight in moist soil, and cool climates and nutrient-rich fertilizer will ensure a healthy bloom. As a biennial, Canterbury bells take two years to bloom, after which they will die, so many gardeners choose to plant new seeds yearly. Usually, Canterbury bells are grown in flower beds, which are best suited for the second row in a bed of three rows, staggered according to height.

While infestations and disease aren't common, the plant can be affected by various insects and fungal diseases, both of which are treatable when addressed early. You should overwinter Canterbury bells indoors during their first winter to prepare them for later frosts.


Canterbury bells flower best when exposed to four to six hours of full sun daily. They can grow in partial sun, but full sun is ideal.


Canterbury bells require well-drained but moist soil. The soil should be loamy or sandy, and a wide range of pH levels is acceptable, from neutral to alkaline. Still, near-neutral is ideal.


You should water your Canterbury bells regularly during the growing season, but be sure not to overwater. They will die in drought or flood, so maintaining good moisture retention is essential.

Temperature and Humidity

Canterbury bells do best in cool climates. If you live in an especially hot area, provide your plant shade. Cool summer weather is ideal for Canterbury bells, and temperatures over 80°F can harm your plant's health.


Fertilize your Canterbury bells in spring with a nutrient-balanced fertilizer. Low nitrogen 5-10-5 NPK fertilizer is recommended. Hose the soil after fertilizing, so the fertilizer reaches the plant's roots. You can mix compost into the ground to increase fertility and improve soil drainage.


To prune Canterbury bells, remove dead foliage as soon as possible, and cut or pinch flowers as they fade. If you notice your plant becoming too large, you can prune excess flowers, even if they appear healthy. You should lightly prune Canterbury bells throughout the summer.

Potting and Repotting

You can plant Canterbury bells in regular potting soil without taking many additional measures. However, you may add some sand to the mixture. Choose a pot, tub, or container with drainage holes to ensure the plant doesn't become overly wet. Repotting is best done in early spring, and given the height of the plant, staking is helpful for extra support.


It's best to grow Canterbury bells indoors for their first year to be well-prepared for winter. You can do so by using a thick layer of mulch and planting in the spring. Water very lightly during frosts.

Pests and Plant Diseases

Common pests and diseases affecting Canterbury bells include aphids, mites, slugs, and snails. The plant can also develop root rot, powdery mildew, and rust. Fungal diseases, such as rust, become visible as lesions on the leaves and then as open pustules that can spread to surrounding flowers. Pruning and good air circulation can help protect your Canterbury bells from disease.

Common Problems With Canterbury Bells

While Canterbury bells are relatively easy to grow and aren't particularly susceptible to pests, they can still suffer from issues common to all bellflowers. Owners should pay attention to discoloration and overcrowded flowers.


Fungal diseases will cause the leaves of your Canterbury bells to become yellow or brown and are difficult to manage once the spread begins. This can help be prevented by avoiding overwatering.


Canterbury bells produce a large volume of flower spikes, weighing down the stem and causing the plant to collapse. You can help prevent this by staking your plant and pruning as you notice excess growth.


Canterbury bells are ideal for the informal, cottage garden look, where they can be intermixed with a variety of other plants. They're also useful for planting at the center of island beds, where they're viewed from all sides.

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