Campanula rotundifolia [kam-PAN-yoo-luh, ro-tun-dih-FOH-lee-uh] is an herbaceous perennial belonging to the family Campanulaceae.
The plant’s genus name Campanula is derived from the Latin word campana, which means bell.
The specific epithet is also Latin and means rounded leaves referring to the rounded basal leaves of the plant.
You may also hear this native of the temperate northern hemisphere referred to as Harebell or simply as Bluebell.
These plants grow naturally in many of the northernmost parts of North America, Asia, and Europe and are found in Alpine areas, rocky slopes, grasslands and meadows and along the sandy shores.
These pretty blue wildflowers also grow in Scotland and are sometimes referred to as scotch Bluebell or bluebells of Scotland.
Other common names include Bellflower and Witches Thimble.
Campanula Rotundifolia Care
Size & Growth
This plant has an upright rosette-forming growth habit.
It can grow to be about 20” inches tall and may spread to 12” inches.
Leaves are small and rounded growing in a basal rosette from which long stalks emerge.
These wiry stalks also present leaves in an alternating pattern. These leaves are linear and may be 1” – 3” inches long.
The basal leaves die back before the flowers appear.
Flowering & Fragrance
The pretty blue flowers put on a brilliant show at bloom time from June to September.
As the name indicates, the flowers are bell-shaped and may be about half an inch long.
Blooms may appear in small clusters or singly at the tips of the stems. They are very attractive to pollinators.
Light & Temperature
Canterbury Bells are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 6. They are happiest in areas having a cool summer climate.
They cannot do well in areas of extreme heat and will not thrive in the deep South (below USDA hardiness zone 6).
These pretty blue flowers do well in part shade to full sun.
Watering & Feeding
Bluebells are easy to grow and have medium moisture requirements.
In areas where natural rainfall is scarce, you must provide regular, consistent moisture.
As with all wildflowers, it’s best to water slowly, deeply and infrequently.
Fertilize Harebells using an all-purpose fertilizer once early in the springtime and again toward mid-summer.
Look for an NPK ratio of 5-10-10. Be sure to water thoroughly when you fertilize.
Soil & Transplanting
Well draining soil is necessary to prevent problems such as root rot.
Plant from seed rather than attempting to transplant or divide these plants.
Grooming & Maintenance
Flowers should be deadheaded to encourage new blossoms.
To propagate, sow seeds directly into the garden later in the springtime.
Plants will establish themselves during the first year and will return to bloom during the second year.
Although individual plants may have a short life, they do self-seed in the best conditions and will return year after year.
These plants also propagate themselves through creeping root spread.
It’s also possible to propagate by cuttings.
Harebell Campanula Pest or Disease Problems
These hardy native plants have very few diseases and insect problems under normal growing conditions.
If the soil is kept too moist, you may have problems with aphids, snails, and slugs.
Is This Bluebell Bellflower Toxic Or Poisonous?
California Poison Control System reports the plants belonging to the species, Campanula are non-toxic.
These plants are deer resistant.
Is The Rotundifolia Invasive?
Campanula rotundifolia is often confused with its cousin Campanula rapunculoides (a.k.a. Creeping Bellflower), which is invasive.
The difference is Harebell is native to the United States, but Creeping Bellflower is not. It is European.
While Harebell does spread with wild abandon in the areas where it belongs, it does not become invasive in areas where it does not belong.
Invasive Creeping Bellflower is another matter entirely.
Suggested Campanula Rotundifolia Uses
Bluebells make an ideal flower for naturalizing in many parts of the United States.
They do well in shaded areas of the rock garden and are very pretty in mass plantings in woodland areas.
When used in this manner, they will naturalize easily and successfully.
Add harebell to your butterfly or pollinator garden for easy, carefree color.