The Charm of English Bluebells

The Charm of English Bluebells
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The Charm of English BluebellsBluebells are a lovely spring flower that can add color and charm to your garden beds. Today I am profiling the Spanish Bluebell and the English Bluebell. You will find these two interchanged quite a bit online and often are listed as the same plant, but they are different. English bluebells are much shorter, and bloom earlier and they both have their own special features.

English Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, (formerly called Scilla non-scripta, Scilla nutans, or Endymion non-scriptus) grows about 12 inches tall and is a hardy bulb with bluish purple blooms. It has been in European gardens as early as 1500 and is a wonderful bulb for naturalizing.

They do best in full sun or a little shade and a well-drained fertile soil. 25 bulbs will cover about a 3 foot square area and will bloom in April and May. They will have anywhere from 4 to 15 dainty fragrant blooms on each plant! English bluebell is a beloved flower in Britain, where it grows in gardens and in the wild. Each summer you can divide them after the foliage dies back if you wish and replant. This bulb will tolerate wet areas, which many don't.

Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica, (also referred to as Wood Hyacinth) grows to 18 inches, taller than English bluebell and the flowers are powder blue, pink or white. It blooms later too, and will grow in sun or shade. If you live in a hot climate, choose a shady location.

They make a nice transitional flower, after the early spring bulbs, but before the perennials. It's hardy even for Zone 3, and can be grown in warm climates too. Spanish bluebell will tolerate drought much better than English bluebells, which do better in moist areas. Mixing the three color varieties at the edge of a shady area, where they will still receive sun is a nice location. They are also lovely in the middle of a border.

There are wildflowers, or weeds some will call them, that do look similar to the Spanish Bluebells, but these are not the same. I have one variety in my backyard, which grows near the back of the fence. I leave it and enjoy the bluebell shape flowers, though it is a little weedy looking. English and Spanish bluebells will cross, so be sure if one of them is a favorite to plant only that variety, or make sure they are a good distance apart.

Both of these bluebell varieties are charming. I think the English bluebell is more dainty and deeper in color and I love it as an heirloom plant that still grows wild in Britain and Ireland. It's very much the "fairy flower".

Image: Wikimedia.org

 

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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