Dictionary of Flowers: Calibrachoa (Million Bells)

Lovely apricot Calibrachoa (Million Bells). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Serres Fortier and Flickr
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Lovely apricot Calibrachoa (Million Bells). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Serres Fortier and Flickr

  • Calibrachoa
  • Common name: million bells, superbells
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Category: annual, perennial in frost-free zones
  • Height: 6" to 10"
  • Width: 12"to 24" 
  • Sun
  • Blooms: late spring to early fall
  • Attracts: hummingbirds
  • Growth habit: trailing. Used as a spiller in containers
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, moist, free draining. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, groundcover, edge of border, rockery
  • Diseases: viral diseases, root diseases, chlorosis
  • Pests: aphids, fungus gnats, leafminers, thrips and whitefly

Calibrachoa is an annual that has recently become popular. It produces one inch blooms that resemble small petunias, tubular, with a contrasting color eye and sometimes veining.

Double flowered varieties are now also available.

Million bells bloom profusely in just about every color, from white to darkest purple. Unlike petunias, the foliage isn't sticky. Leaves are bright green, small and dense.

It is a popular choice for container combinations, as they are lower maintenance plants than petunias. They spill over the edge of the container and bloom continuously during late spring until frost. 

In warm, frost free zones it acts as an evergreen perennial.

Calibrachoa likes average to fertile soil, watered regularly when grown in containers. The growing medium needs to be moist, but not soggy. A container with adequate drainage and good quality potting soil will help. If planting on the ground, amend the soil with compost and peat moss to improve drainage.

They prefer a sunny position, though partial shade will work as well. The more sun, the better and more abundant the bloom.

Like petunia, calibrachoa is a heavy feeder. Feed every other week with a bloom booster formula. 

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

If they start getting leggy late in the season, trim them, removing about a quarter of the length of the plant.

Trimming if necessary should be all the maintenance million bells require, as they are self-cleaning and there is no need to deadhead them.

Million bells are available as starter plants at nurseries during the spring and summer. They can't be grown from seed.

Most available plants are patented, so they can't be reproduced because of the Plant Patent Act. Non patented varieties can be propagated by tip cuttings.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Calibrachoa can suffer from chlorosis. If the leaves start yellowing, treat with a foliar spray with iron. Improper drainage will cause root rot.

Keep moist by watering regularly but don't allow the soil to get soggy. Pests can be eliminated with insecticidal soap.

Popular varieties:

  • Calibrachoa hybrid 'Superbells' series - many colors available. Single and double bloom varieties.
  • Calibrachoa hybrid 'Callie' series
  • Calibrachoa hybrid 'Can Can' series - flowers remain open at night
  • Calibrachoa hybrid 'Minifamous Compact' series - mounding shape that spills over the edge of the container
  • Calibrachoa hybrid "Minifamous Double' series - double blooms, semi trailing habit

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Calibrachoa (Million Bells) to the Dictionary of Flowers

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