ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cottage Garden Favorites: Bells of Ireland

Updated on January 19, 2017
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.


My first childhood garden featured green zinnias. For years, I thought that they were the only green flowers. Then I discovered Bells of Ireland, also known as Shell Flowers.


In spite of their name, Bells of Ireland are native to western Asia (Turkey and Syria). They have been growing in European gardens since the 16th century. Their green color prompted the reference to Ireland in the name which then led to them symbolizing luck in the language of flowers. The "bells" are actually green calyxes which surround their tiny white flowers.


Bells of Ireland are grown as annuals in all growing zones. Because of their origins, they grow best in areas with hot, dry summers. They do not do as well in humid areas. Give them full sun for the flower stalks to achieve their full height of 3 feet. They will be shorter in light shade. Plant them in a sheltered area where the wind cannot blow over the flower stalks. Alternatively, you can stake them. They bloom from mid-summer until the first frost.

The plant itself is about 12 inches high and 12 inches wide and not terribly attractive. Bells of Ireland work well planted in the rear of your garden where the flower stalks lend height, while their foliage will be screened by your other flowers.

Unlike most annuals, Bells of Ireland are not deadheaded. They do not rebloom once their flowers are removed. You leave the flowers on the plants so that they produce seed or you can harvest the flower stalks and use them fresh or dried in arrangements and craft projects.


Bells of Ireland are easy to grow from seed, but you must be patient. The seeds can take a month or more to germinate. You can speed that up by cold stratifying them. Put your seed packet in your refrigerator for 5 days prior to sowing them in your garden after your last frost. Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil. Don't cover them, they need light to germinate.

For earlier flowers, start your seeds indoors two months before your last frost. Surface sow as you would outdoors and be mindful of the length of time it will take them to germinate.

Other Uses

Bells of Ireland are frequently used in bridal bouquets, St. Patrick's Day flower arrangements and in dried arrangements. They are often grown in cutting gardens. The flowers will last up to two weeks in a vase. Alternatively, you can dry them by hanging them upside down in a cool, dry area where they will turn a light tan color.

© 2014 Caren White


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Bac, cold stratifying works for a number of plants, fooling them into thinking that winter has come and gone. People in the southern US use it on their spring flowering bulbs since their winters are not cold enough.

    • bac2basics profile image


      4 years ago from Spain

      These would serve the purpose as a good backdrop to a more showy plant. Nice tip about the cold stratifying.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      I've always been fascinated by green flowers. Thanks for reading.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Lovely! I love that there are green flowers. How interesting that they are native to Asia but named after Ireland for obvious reasons.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      You're so welcome. I'm glad that you can finally put a name to these wonderful flowers. Thank you for reading.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I love these and had no idea what they were called. Very interesting; than you. ^+


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)