Campanulastrum americanum, American Bellflower


Is American Bellflower, no known botanically as Campanulastrum americanum, the closest we have to a cottage garden plant? Could be! There's many wonderful things about this generally biennial wildflower. If you seed it, you forget it, and then, a couple of years later -there it is, shooting up above the other species. It doesn't have a truly bell-shaped flower, it's more star-shaped. Beautiful blue-purple blooms on a tall single stalk, flowering from the bottom up, which suggests its bloom season coincides with the advancing summer growth of other woodland species. That's right, woodland species. American Bellflower will grow easily with a part day of sun, but enjoys shaded, cooler ground to get its start -perfect to grow among other species. Again, not a perennial, so plant it, allow it to self-seed and be surprised as to where it shows up again in two years. If you never want to be without, plant it two years in a row!

In 2023, I had a ton of American Bellflower that decided to shoot up on the shady side of our small greenhouse -that's where the photo, above, was taken. Sometimes I find it growing on slowly rotting oak logs in a partly sunny location, other times it grows with the Sweet Joe Pye Weed on our drain field. If you have open woods (you know, dappled sun), savanna, or a woodland edge or just an open, airy, not densely-shaded garden, plant it! It takes up no space at all and you won't be disappointed.

Blooms: blue-purple, June into July

Height: 2 to 6 feet

Conditions: pt sun to dappled shade, moist-medium to medium soils 

American Bellflower in morning sun under trees, MN Landscape Arboretum