Bells of Ireland Flower: Meaning, Symbolism, and Colors

Contrary to its name, this unique-looking flower is native to the Western Asian region around Syria, the Caucasus, and Turkey. The name originates from its bell-shaped floral spikes that populate the entire stem of the pant. But one cannot help but wonder about the bells of Ireland flower meaning. Why Ireland here? It is so because of the lively, emerald green color of the floral spikes which have come to represent the charm of the Emerald Isle (a popular moniker of Ireland) itself. The bell-shaped structures are actually the calyx or protective leafing around tiny, white-colored flowers that are fragrant in nature.

The scientific name of this flower is Moluccella laevis, and it is also known as shellflower. This variety is a summer-flowering annual type and belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) of flowers. The species grows abundantly in moderately cold climate areas. But they also require plentiful sun for their growth.

Bells of Ireland Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The bells of Ireland flower meaning and symbolism are deeply rooted in history and have an intricate connection with culture and tradition. The rich green hue is reminiscent of the Celtic charm of the Emerald Isle and represents Irish charm and good luck. The blossoms also represent abundance of wealth for some. This flower is also the favorite choice for bouquet arrangements on St. Patrick’s Day. Along with shamrock, bells of Ireland is the most widely used floral decoration to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland (St. Patrick) who had brought Christianity to the island nation during the 4th-century. To bring good fortune, the flower’s seeds are sown on the patron saint’s day. Apart from good fortune, the bells of Ireland flower meaning and symbolism also include good health as well as good luck before embarking on a journey.

Various Colors of Bells of Ireland

All varieties of this enchanting flower are characterized by their resplendent emerald green color. Although there are a few cultivars (varieties through selective breeding) that are prevalent today, the most prominent among them is ‘Pixie Bells’. The distinguishing feature of this variety is the shorter and sturdier stem that makes the plant less susceptible to damage during strong winds or rains. This makes it the preferred choice for gardeners over the main variety.

Interesting Facts and Characteristics

Long before green-colored flower plants became fashionable among florists and plant enthusiasts, this endearing plant variety has been popular and widely cultivated since the 16th century. While they are called bells of Ireland in Europe and the U.S, they are known as Canterbury bells in Australia and New Zealand. In Belgium, these lovely flowers are used in the making of fragrant perfumes. Another interesting feature of this plant variety is that they are entirely avoided by deer and rabbits. For this reason, these plants are grown as a protective outer layer around other plant varieties to prevent the latter from being consumed by wildlife.

Carl Linnaeus, the famous Swedish botanist who named the genus for this plant ‘Molucella laevis’, is thought to have mistakenly named it so. He did so because he believed they had originated from the Molucca Islands, an archipelago that is situated east of Indonesia. Because of their thin, lengthy stems, they are rendered top-heavy. And due to this, the plant variety is vulnerable to damage during heavy rains and winds, as they can easily topple over. To get around this vulnerability, gardeners either grow the shorter-stemmed pixie bell variety or grow the normal variety in a sheltered place. They can also be staked (support arrangements) in windy areas to avoid being ruined.

For best cultivation practices, bells of Ireland plant seeds can be sown indoors in a shallow container filled with potting soil. This should be done around 8-10 weeks before the last anticipated frost in the locale. Since the seeds require light for germination, leave them shallowly buried in the soil. To fasten the process of germination, the container can be kept inside a freezer for a period of around two weeks. For best results, the seeds can be placed between moist surfaces like paper towels inside the refrigerator. This practice is known as stratification. The germinated sprouts can be moved outdoors once the nighttime temperature becomes warmer. In warmer climate regions, the seeds can be sown around August.

Bells of Ireland plants are generally disease-resistant but are susceptible to Cercospora leaf blight. Due to this, they may develop yellowish halos on the bells. To prevent the rest of the plant from getting infected, the affected portions must be pruned immediately. The plants are also exposed to pest attacks by aphids. These bugs feed on the underside of the leaves thus effectively concealing the decay from outside view. The rot only becomes visible once the damage has spread extensively, after which it may become difficult to save the plant. To avoid this, periodic observation and scanning are essential. The aphids can be gotten rid of by insecticidal sprays available in the market.

Tiny spider mites can also afflict the plants by sucking out the juices out of the bells. They can in turn fill the bells with toxins which may render the rich green bells dull yellowish. These spider mites too can be eliminated by insecticidal sprays.

Bells of Ireland flowers can be easily dried, and they make a valuable and attractive addition to fresh-cut flower decorations. They also make great decorative foil for wine bottles. This annual plant variety is not suitable to be cultivated in hot and humid climate zones. But they grow well in moderately cold climate zones where abundant sunlight is available.

Best Time to Gift Bells of Ireland Flowers

The bells of Ireland flower meaning and symbolism will rather be incomplete without mentioning the best occasions to gift it to your loved ones. As these wondrous flowers represent charm and good luck, they would make wonderful gifts to newly-wed couples, those starting a new journey, and ones taking up a new job.