Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevis)


Bells of Ireland are a flowering annual, producing stems 40-60cm long. Modified leaves shaped like a trumpet occur in rosettes up the stem with small insignificant flowers occurring inside them. Other leaves can be found around the stems and these are usually removed before sale of the flowers. Once cut the stems last 2 and sometimes 3 weeks, making them ideal for flower bunches. The strong shape of them also makes them very appealing.

Although they can be grown outside in many parts of New Zealand growing them inside in the southern regions is recommended as cool summers can mean they do not mature in time. It is also easier to keep them growing straight in a protected environment. Drip tape should also be used for irrigation as overhead watering results in water collecting inside the 'trumpets' and they tend to fall over with the weight.

Growing Bells of Ireland

Propagation: From seed as they are an annual
Yields/ha: Can pick 20 stems + per m2
Time of flowering: Summer
Crop protection: Need protection from the wind to keep them upright
Soil type: Friable free draining
Fertilisers: General fertilisers acceptable.
Weed control: Need weed control especially near establishment
Pest/Diseases: Some mite problems in greenhouses. Easily controlled
Harvesting: Cut the stems from the plant into water. Leaves must be plucked before sale. Bunching in fives is also recomended.
Marketing: Good local market returns of 50-80c per stem. Also some export potential to places like the Pacific Islands.