Everything You Need to Know about Bluebell Flowers

Bluebell

Bluebell flowers are appealing, and they grow in many places around the world. They grow along pathways, in gardens, glens, and grazing meadows. These perennial flowers are often tucked away in carpeting woodlands and shady forest areas. They poke their heads out during spring, often between April and May. According to Den Garden, if the weather conditions are right, these flowers can bloom through the summer months. Shaped like little bells, these flowers are eye-catching, enchanting and their colors range from sky blue to deep indigo, white, and pink. They can make people believe in magic and fairies, and it is not surprising that countless folklore tales surround bluebells, many of them involving dark fairy magic. Some of the other names used to refer to these flowers include:

  • Campanula
  • Harebell
  • Ring-o-bells
  • Wood bells
  • Bush tucker

According to Gardening Know-how, bluebells make excellent companions to ferns, hostas, and other woodland native plants. They grow perfectly when allowed to naturalize in woodland settings or shade gardens. The following are things you may not have known about bluebells flowers, but should.

Taxonomy

Scientifically, the Bluebell under the Asparagaceae family, Scilloideae sub-family, and the Hyacinthoides genus. Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist first defined the Hyacinthoides non-scripta in a work called Species Plantarum that was published in 1753. Linnaeus designated it non-scripta, meaning unrecorded or unlettered to differentiate it from the traditional hyacinth. The common Bluebell has had several botanical names over the years. In 1797, a botanist from England argued that the name nutans was better than non-scripta. Therefore, the Bluebell’s botanical name became Hyacinthoides nutans. In 1803, two German botanists transferred this flower to the Scilla genus (Scilla non-scripta). In 1849, another botanist from Germany switched the flower’s genus to Endymion (Endymion non-scripta). Yet, international standards that govern botanical names state that the oldest nomenclature should be used. Therefore, scientists still refer to the common Bluebell as Hyacinthoides non-scripta, although the plant has been noted in botanical records for many years.

Distribution

Bluebell flowers are native to Atlantic Europe, and they grow in Spain, North-Western Portugal, the Netherlands, and the British Isles. They also grow in Western Europe, including all of Ireland, Great Britain, France, Italy, Romania, Germany, and Belgium. The Bluebell also grows in the wild in parts of North America. It grows most abundantly in the British Isles where it blankets forest floors in indigo, creating bluebell woods. Bluebells have arching, dainty stems, and bell-shaped bulbs, and they add life and ethereal beauty to any of the landscapes where they grow. They add a splash of color, glamor, and grace to any garden or yard, and rejuvenate them. Most people love bluebells because of their fresh and soft fragrance that fills the air and gently awakens the senses. You can smell bluebells from afar since their incredible scent saturates the air around them.

Symbolism behind them

According to Petal Republic, bluebells often symbolize gratitude and humility. People also use them to show constant and everlasting affection and love. One of the interesting interpretations of bluebells stems from the Victorian area where people used flowers to express thoughts and feelings to other people. Therefore, they represented humility best due to the way their bell shape seemed to bow down on the flower’s spike. More specifically, purple or lilac bluebells represent gratitude, and pink bluebells convey feelings of everlasting love, blue-colored ones represent constancy and humility, while white bluebells symbolize spirituality and purity.

Bluebells and fairies

For centuries, bluebells have grown in the land of goblins and fairies, and for that reason, they are steeped in mythology. Most tales about these flowers weave dark fairy magic with legends, bluebell woods, bad luck, and curses. There is a belief that bluebell woods are woven intricately with fairy enchantments that mischievous beings use to trap humans. Another belief is that when people hear a bluebell ring, a bad fairy ring will visit them, and they will pass away soon. Others believe that fairies can lead a person astray once they pick a bluebell. In Scotland, bluebells are called harebells because people believed that witches could change themselves into hares and then hide in bluebell fields.

Bluebells in literature and art

Apart from having a place in legends and folklore, these flowers also hold a spotlight in the popular literature and art of Britain. For instance, Emily Bronte wrote a poem titled Bluebell, describing the attractiveness of a bluebell wood, how the flower lacks color in the winter, and how she felt homesick because of the way the flowers appear in spring. The beauty of these flowers has also been an inspiration to many English artists who have captured their allure on canvas. In many paintings, Jack Wiggins, an artist, has preserved the charm of bluebell meadows draped with sunlight, and admirers of his art can look forward to spring’s warmth.

Types of Bluebells

In spite of the overriding beliefs and myths linked to bluebell flowers, they are among the popular and common choices found in meadows and gardens around the world. Some of the well-known kinds of bluebells include:

English/British Bluebell

These bluebells are native to France and England. They are purple to deep-bluish in color, and they have graced and beautified gardens and wooded areas as early as the 1500s. They grow to a height of about twelve inches, and they consist of a straight-sided long bell with petals that are curled up towards the end. It grows in abundance, especially in the spring season. According to Home Stratosphere, it is better to plant these flowers in the fall so that they burst and bloom with color as the spring season kicks in.

Spanish Bluebell

This Bluebell is similar to the English Bluebells and originally grows in the Iberian Peninsula. It tends to bloom in open areas and is therefore not usually seen in woodlands. The stems of this Bluebell grow up to three feet tall, and its flowers grow in the form of a cluster that points towards the sky on each stem. Unlike the English Bluebell, this one has straight stalks, which do not curve towards the end but are pointed and straight instead. They grow in a wide range of appealing colors, including blue, white, and pink. The Spanish Bluebell is known as a spring bulb plant and people usually cultivate it as a garden plant. When growing the flowers, it is essential to bear in mind that they grow best in partial sunlight or shade.

Virginia Bluebell

This Bluebell mainly grows in Eastern North America, and it has gray-green rounded leaves and bell-shaped sky-blue flowers. It is a member of the Boraginaceae family, meaning that it is related to similar species like the Forget-Me-Not and the Comfrey. It is also believed to be one of the prettiest spring flowers to grow in a person’s garden because of its attractive light blue to purple color. This flower grows to an average height of eighteen to twenty-four inches and usually bloom during early to mid-spring. They continue to bloom and burst with appealing colors from spring to midsummer since the growing conditions are perfect.

Scottish Bluebell

This type of Bluebell is also referred to as harebells, a name whose roots are well-placed in magic. The reason for this name is that the Scottish Bluebells grow commonly in the meadows surrounded by hares. Several fascinating theories are attached to this name. Scottish bluebells are mainly distributed in the Northern Hemisphere.

Campanula

In Latin, Campanula means little bell, and it is a diverse genus with over five hundred species distributed across the Northern Hemisphere’s subtropical regions and extends further to the mountains of Asia and Africa. Some species include annual, perennial, and biennial plants consisting of various growing habits from six feet tall species that grow in the woodlands to arctic and alpine species growing to a height of about 2 centimeters. They are well-noted for their shape, which can sport various forms similar to a star, bell, saucer, and cup. They are also chosen often for cottage ad rock gardens where the attractive flowers appear to grow into striking borders or flower beds. Campanula flowers are easy to grow, winter hardy and completely cover the ground.

Hybrid Bluebell

This is a hybrid species of bluebells and is a cross between the Spanish Bluebell and the common Bluebell. They are two parental species, which create the hybrid bluebell cross. D. Geerinck, a Belgian botanist is credited with giving these flowers their name in 1997. You can identify hybrid bluebells from other bluebell varieties from their scent, shape, and size. The hybrid species contain more of the characteristics of the Spanish Bluebell, such as broader leaves, a subtle amount of fragrance, very light, drooping flowers all over the stem rather than a single side. This flower has smaller petals, and its tips roll back to a particular degree. In addition, the stem usually remains stiff and upright, but in certain cases, it drops down a little. Its leaves have immediate characteristics of both the common and the Spanish Bluebell.

Uses of Bluebell Flowers

Bluebells are generally considered toxic, but they produce multiple bioactive agents. Some of the bioactive agents in bluebells are almost the same as those being tested to fight HIV and cancer. In history, bluebell bulbs were used in folk medicine to rectify hormonal imbalances and as a styptic and diuretic. However, since bluebells are toxic to animals and humans, it is not advisable to attempt any of the remedies. The plants put off most animals, but it is still possible for them to ingest them accidentally. This might cause severe stomach upset and if the animals ingest a large quantity, it might cause death. Bluebells also secrete sticky sap that was used to bind books and make arrows. Nowadays, the most popular use for these plants is blanketing gardens in blue.

They are beneficial to insects

Insects benefit from bluebells because they flower earlier than most other plants. Hoverflies, bees, woodland butterflies, and other pollinators feed on their sweet nectar. Thus, they are a great addition to any garden, container garden, or wild-growing area.

Where to plant them

Bluebells are ideal for beds, borders, bumblebee or butterfly gardens, cottage gardens, containers, shade gardens, wildflower meadows, and the bases of deciduous trees. After establishing them, they spread easily by themselves. Therefore, it is not advisable to plant them in places where they might spread unrestrained, unless that is your intention. The most suitable bluebells to plant at home are common and Spanish bluebells.

Caring for bluebells

The common bluebell flower grows wild, does not require much care, and is a low-maintenance choice for informal gardens. This flower grows in all kinds of well-draining soil types that range from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH levels. The Bluebell prefers partial shade, which makes it ideal for growing under leafy trees. Bluebell flowers need to be kept slightly moist but not soggy. It would be best if you watered them when the top few inches of soil are dry and then let them drain. Before the new shoots emerge during the spring, apply a well-balanced, basic (10-10-10) fertilizer to the soil.

Suitable gifting occasions

People regard bluebells as wildflowers, meaning that they are not the most attractive flowers in many bouquets. Instead, people incorporate their appealing booms to add texture, some delicateness to mixed floral arrangements, surprising color pops, and seasonal springtime designs. The bouquets which feature bluebells have a whimsical, rustic appeal and appear attractive when tied using a satin ribbon or wrapped in twine. They are usually the first flowers that bloom abundantly during the springtime. Therefore, they are ideal for celebrating any occasion held in the spring season like anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s Day, or Easter. You can gift these flowers to your loved ones or friends to lift their spirits. You may also use them to convey a floral message using the flower language as you gift them.

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