Do Campanula Come Back Every Year? How to Get Bellflowers to Return

Campanulas are a diverse group of plants, including small, creeping species and towering perennials. All have beautiful, usually blue, flowers and most are attractive to pollinators.

Campanulas are part of the Campanulaceae family, which also includes lobelias, isotomas and platycodon. Many of them can handle some shade, which makes them good for dark spots or small gardens that are overlooked by walls and fences.

In gardens, you may have seen small, spreading campanulas like Campanula poscharskyana and Campanula portenschlagiana. These plants like to grow in the cracks of walls and paving stones.

Campanula, commonly known as bellflower, are some of the most popular perennials for gardens. With their cheerful bell-shaped flowers in shades of blue, purple, white and pink, they add a cottage garden charm to borders, rock gardens, and containers. But one frequent question gardeners have is: do campanulas come back every year?

The good news is that with proper care, most campanula varieties will return for many years of beauty. Here’s what you need to know about getting bellflowers to come back year after year:

Are Campanulas Perennials?

Most campanulas are hardy herbaceous perennials meaning the plants go dormant in winter then re-sprout from their root system each spring. However some species are short-lived perennials that may only live 2 to 3 years. There are also a few annual and biennial types.

Some of the perennial campanula species include:

  • Bellflower (Campanula rotundifolia)
  • Carpathian bellflower (Campanula carpatica)
  • Peachleaf bellflower (Campanula persicifolia)
  • Clustered bellflower (Campanula glomerata)

While biennials like Canterbury bells (Campanula medium) and annuals like tutti-frutti bellflower (Campanula fragilis) must be replanted each year from seed.

When cared for properly most perennial campanulas have a long lifespan of 5 or more years before their vigor starts to decline. Avoiding conditions that stress the plants helps promote longevity.

How to Get Campanulas to Return Year After Year

Here are some tips to ensure your campanulas return reliably

Provide the Right Site Conditions

  • Most prefer full sun to part shade. Give sun lovers like peachleaf bellflower at least 6 hours of direct sun.

  • Good drainage is key. Wet soils in winter cause crown rot. Amend soil with compost to improve drainage.

  • Some tolerate poor, acidic soils. But most thrive in moderately fertile soil with a pH of 6-8. Avoid over-fertilizing.

  • Give shelter from strong winds which can break stems.

Mulch Them

  • Apply 2-3 inches of shredded bark, leaves or straw around plants each fall. This insulates roots from temperature extremes.

  • Mulching in summer helps retain moisture and keep roots cool. Just keep it a few inches away from the crown.

Water Consistently

  • Give 1-2 inches of water per week during the first year to establish deep roots.

  • Avoid drought once established. Water thoroughly if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.

Deadhead and Prune

  • Deadheading spent blooms encourages more flowers. Cut back to just above a leaf.

  • Shearing plants by 1/3 to 1/2 after flowering maintains a compact shape.

  • Remove damaged foliage and trim dead stems in early spring.

Watch for Pests

  • Aphids, spider mites, thrips, slugs, and snails can damage plants and spread disease if not controlled.

  • Treat with horticultural soaps, neem oil or remove pests by hand if infestations are minor.

Divide When Overcrowded

  • Mature clumps that get overcrowded stop blooming well. Lift and divide root balls every 3-4 years.

  • Replant the healthiest younger sections and discard the center. This revitalizes plants.

Why Might Campanulas Fail to Return?

Sometimes bellflowers underperform or die out during winter for various reasons:

  • Excessive moisture rots roots and crowns. Improve drainage before replanting.

  • Damage from late frosts if planted too early in spring. Wait until after the last frost date.

  • Harsh winter climates may kill the crown. Mulch for insulation or grow in protected microclimates.

  • Drought stress weakens plants going into winter dormancy. Water thoroughly before ground freezes.

  • Failure to mulch leading to frost heaving that disturbs roots.

  • Rapid spring growth when fertilized too early leaves plants prone to disease.

  • Overcrowding leads to fewer blooms and weakened plants. Divide roots regularly.

  • Diseases like crown rot, botrytis, powdery mildew which are exacerbated by wet conditions. Allow for air circulation.

  • Lack of sun for varieties needing full sun to thrive. Move to a sunnier spot.

With attentive care, most campanula varieties will reliably return year after year. Getting bellflowers to come back thicker and bloom more profusely depends on situating them properly and tending to their needs through the seasons. Do this, and they’ll reward you with their cheerful flowers summer after summer!

Popular Campanula Varieties That Come Back Yearly

Here are some of the best campanulas for perennial gardens that you can count on to return each year:

  • Bellflower (‘Champion Series’) – Vigorous with large blue or white upward facing bells. Grows 12-15 inches tall.

  • Carpathian Bellflower (C. carpatica) – Dense mounds to 6 inches tall with purple, white or blue blooms.

  • Dalmatian Bellflower (C. portenschlagiana) – Trails nicely with purple flowers. Grows 3-6 inches tall.

  • Peachleaf Bellflower (C. persicifolia) – Long blooming with cup-shaped flowers on 18-24 inch stems.

  • Clustered Bellflower (C. glomerata) – Dense violet-blue clusters on 20 inch stems.

  • Serbian Bellflower (C. poscharskyana) – Trailing perennial with blue star-shaped blooms. Grows 4-6 inches tall.

  • Bellflower (C. rotundifolia) – Mat-forming bellflower with slender stems and blue bells. Grows 6-12 inches tall.

So if you’re looking for reliable return performance, focus on the perennial campanula species and cultivars rather than biennials or annuals. With proper site selection and care, you’ll be rewarded with years of beauty from these cottage garden favorites.

More Campanula Growing Tips

Here are a few more tips to get the most out of campanulas in your garden:

  • Start new plants from seed in early spring indoors. Move outside after hardening off.

  • Take stem cuttings in summer to propagate bellflowers. Remove lower leaves, dip in rooting hormone and plant in potting mix. Keep moist until rooted.

  • Allow self-seeding varieties to reseed for new, free plants each year. Thin out extra seedlings.

  • Plant in containers, rock gardens, stone walls, and crevice gardens. Trailing types cascade beautifully.

  • Deadhead to prolong blooms. But leave last flowers to go to seed for self-sowing.

  • Mix with other cottage garden perennials like coral bells, lady’s mantle, catmint, yarrow and sage.

In the right spot, campanulas will give you loads of gorgeous, bell-shaped blossoms year after year with minimal care required. Follow these tips and you’ll have lovely bellflowers as returning garden guests for many seasons to come.

Advice on buying campanulas

  • Campanulas come in a wide range of heights and widths, so be sure you buy the right one for the spot you want to grow it.
  • Always choose plants from a reputable supplier
  • Before planting, check plants for signs of pests and diseases

How to grow campanulas

If you garden in alkaline soil, this is good news: most campanulas grow naturally in chalky grasslands and along the edges of woods. Campanulas require moist but well-drained soil – they tend to suffer in winter wet. Some thrive in sun while others tolerate shade.

Deadhead spent blooms to prolong flowering. Taller species can be cut back in autumn.

More on growing campanulas:

Read on for our pick of the best campanulas to grow.

do campanula come back every year

Campanula rotundifolia is a creeping perennial plant that does best in dry, nutrient-poor soils. In the UK, this means chalky grasslands. It flowers from around midsummer to early autumn and is often visited by pollinating insects. Grow in sun or partial shade.

Height x Spread: 30cm x 30cm

do campanula come back every year

Campanula portenschlagiana is a low-maintenance perennial campanula that grows well in sunny or partly shaded, well-drained garden spots. It forms a mat and doesn’t need much care. It looks particularly attractive growing in rock gardens or cascading over garden walls.

H x S: 15cm x 50cm

do campanula come back every year

The campanula glomerata plant looks great in cottage gardens or herbaceous borders because it has clusters of brightly colored flowers that add a splash of color. You can also pick from a range of beautiful cultivars with pink or white flowers. Grow in moist, free-draining soil in full sun or partial shade.

H x S: 50cm x 60cm

do campanula come back every year

Campanula latifolia, which is commonly known as the “giant bellflower,” is a beautiful plant that grows to a height of 1 m and looks great in partially shaded borders with ferns and other woodland perennials. Pictured is the variety ‘Alba’, which has white flowers, rather than the usual mid-purple flowers.

H x S: 1m x 60cm

do campanula come back every year

Campanula persicifolia, or “fairy bellflower,” is a traditional cottage garden perennial with flowers that look like bells and are held on thin stems. A sheltered spot is best, in full sun or partial shade and moist, free-draining soil.

H x S: 80m x 40cm

do campanula come back every year

Campanula lactiflora is a particularly floriferous, clump-forming campanula with large heads of clustered flowers in summer. ‘Prichard’s Variety’ (pictured) is a popular variety with pale, violet-blue flowers. Plant it in full sun or partial shade in moist, free-draining soil.

H x S: 1m x 50cm

do campanula come back every year

The trailing bellflower, Campanula poscharskyana, forms a mat like Campanula portenschlagiana and does well in the small spaces between paving tiles, bricks, and stones. The plant is great because it doesn’t need much care and blooms with bright flowers from summer until the end of fall, or even longer in protected urban areas. Grow in full sun or partial shade.

H x S: 15cm x 50cm

do campanula come back every year

Rosa sarastro is a cross between Campanula punctata and Campanula trachelium. It has beautiful midnight-blue flowers on tall stems. Even more dramatic is the variety ‘Pink Octopus’, which has pink, split flowers. Grow Campanula ‘Sarastro’ in full sun or partial shade, in moist, free-draining soil.

H x S: 70cm x 50cm

do campanula come back every year

This tall, straight species is a short-lived perennial that grows best from seed every other year. Campanula pyramidalis thrives in moist, free-draining soil in a sunny or partially shaded spot. A great choice for dramatic cut flowers.

H x S: 1m x 60cm

do campanula come back every year

Alpine campanula species Campanula carpatica is one of the most popular and easy to grow. It has very big, wide, open flowers. Most varieties have white or blue flowers, borne from early to late summer.

H x S: 20cm x 50cm

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Is Campanula perennial or annual?

Campanula portenschlagiana (Serbian Bellflower) is a low-growing, sprawling perennial forming mounds of flaring, star-shaped, pale violet-blue flowers, 1 in. across (2 cm). Blooming freely from late spring to early summer, masses of flowers are borne on spreading stems above a foliage of rounded, mid-green leaves.

Where is the best place to plant Campanula?

You can grow all specialist campanula in well-drained gritty soil, in full sun or light shade.

Does Campanula spread?

Also known as Adriatic bellflower, this unique perennial Campanula is grown for the golden-yellow foliage that provides stunning contrast to the vivid blue flowers. This variety has a compact or spreading habit, making it suitable for edging, mass plantings, containers, rock gardens, or as a ground cover.

Do Campanulas like sun or shade?

Light/Watering: Most varieties will do well in full sun or light shade, the latter vital in the South for all but C. persicifolia and C. pyramidalis. Campanulas prefer evenly moist soils with good drainage and are at their best in climates with cool nights.

Is Campanula a perennial?

Also known as Adriatic bellflower, this unique perennial Campanula is grown for the golden-yellow foliage that provides stunning contrast to the vivid blue flowers. This variety has a compact or spreading habit, making it suitable for edging, mass plantings, containers, rock gardens, or as a ground cover.

Does Campanula grow in winter?

Campanula can be a hardy flowering plant growing well in temperate climates. The herbaceous perennial plants can survive the winters, even in very cold climates. The plants will die back in the late fall and winter, and the new growth reemerges again the following spring. Does Campanula Come Back Every Year?

Can Campanula be grown indoors?

Campanula species are hardy plants grown indoors or in the garden, as it needs cool nights, moist soil, and indirect sunlight. When you treat this lady right, she presents you with gorgeous blooms. You can grow them as perennial plants in warmer regions, but bringing your bellflower plants indoors in freezing temperatures is best.

Can Campanula grow in shade?

Plant Campanula in full or partial shade in Zones 4 to 5; plant in partial shade in Zones 6 to 9. Grow Campanula in humus-rich, moisture-retentive, well-drained soil; will grow in average soil. Campanula can tolerate alkaline soil. Campanula grows best in a soil pH of 5.5 to 7. Plant Campanulas in beds and borders.

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