The Q&A Archives: Wilting Bells of Ireland

Question: I started my Bells of Ireland in the house in March and transplanted them outside in May/June. They did very well through mid-August. Now they are white/brown and dying! What can I do to extend their blooming time? Will they come back next year without any special care?

Answer: Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis) is a lovely plant! However, it is an annual meaning it grows and blooms and dies all in one season, so sadly it sounds like yours are about finished for the season. The only way I know of to extend their blooming is to keep cutting the flowers, either for fresh bouquets or for drying, or simply by removing spent ones. This will push the plant to continue to bloom in an effort to reproduce itself by setting seed. However, even with regular "dead heading" the plant will eventually exhaust itself. If you allow the plant to set seed (by laving faded flowers on until the seed is ripened) and self sow, it may come back next year from seed all by itself but your best bet would be to start new ones again next year.

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