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Molucella, or Irish bells, can give the garden an uniqueness and originality. Their exotic appearance, non-standard shade attract attention and serve as an interesting background for the usual garden flowers. Although the plant has been known for a long time, it is very rare to find it in private gardens.
- Molucella blooms for a very long time
Description and characteristics
Molucella, or Irish bells, belongs to the Lamiaceae family, where there are both annual and perennial species. In floriculture, only one is used - a smooth, herbaceous annual molucella. His homeland is the Mediterranean.
The plant is a bush up to 1 m high with a large number of shoots. They have rounded toothed leaves on long petioles. Small white flowers are in stipules, their aroma is pronounced, sweetish. Mollucella bloom begins in mid-summer and lasts until September. Seeds are tetrahedral, gray in color, ripen in early October. Germination is maintained for three years.
The plant is thermophilic, easily tolerates drought, capable of growing in the shade and in the sun.
It is believed that molucella was popular in Britain during the Victorian era and, according to the British, brought good luck. It is for this reason that it has been called the Good News Irish Bells. The cultivation of a cultural decorative species belongs not to the British, but to the Belgians.
Types of molucella
The genus of molucella includes annuals and short-lived perennials:
- Moluccella aucheri.
- Moluccella fedtschenkoana.
- Moluccella bucharica.
- Moluccella otostegioides Prain.
- Moluccella laevisё.
- Moluccella olgae.
- Moluccella sogdiana.
- Moluccella spinosa.
Only one of them, smooth molucella (Moluccella laevis), is grown as an ornamental species.
In horticulture, several varieties of smooth molucella are used, which differ in size, flowering time and external characteristics. The agrotechnology of their cultivation is identical, so that when caring for plants, you can act according to a single algorithm.
The most popular annual variety of molucella. Differs in unpretentiousness and weak susceptibility to sudden drops in temperature.
Another name for molucella is Moluoka lemon balm
The stem of the "Izumrud" molucella reaches a height of 90 cm, strongly branches. Its white, small, spikelet-shaped inflorescences are found inside green funnel-shaped bowls. From mid-summer to September, the flowering of a spectacular plant continues, which is used for cutting, creating landscape compositions.
The average height of the shoots of the Enigma molucella is 80 cm. The flowers are bell-shaped, tightly attached to the stem. For the cultivation of ornamental plants, the seedling method is used.
After drying, "Enigma" retains its green color for up to 5 years
The Enigma variety is cold-resistant, but during frosts the plant must be covered. Molucella is demanding on heat and moisture, can grow in the shade. It is used in mixborders and to create bouquets of dried flowers.
The variety of annual molucella "Green" has a small growth - up to 60 cm. Shoots are erect, with spike-shaped inflorescences. In the funnel-shaped bowls there are small white molucella flowers with a slightly perceptible aroma. The variety is undemanding to the composition of the soil and illumination.
If the stem of the green molucella branches strongly, you need to install a support
Despite the name, the "Modest" molucella looks unusual and impressive. The sepal of the plant is light green, bell-shaped. Inside it are spike-shaped white inflorescences. The leaves of the molucella are rounded, with denticles along the edges.
The gradual drying of flowers from the bottom of the shoot is one of the shortcomings of "Modest", leading to a loss of decorativeness
The erect stem of the Santa variety has green bracts and white fragrant buds. Shoot height - 70 cm. Long flowering - from June to autumn.
To create dry bouquets, the "Santa" molucella is harvested in the morning, during the period of full opening of the cups
Growing molucella from seeds
There are two ways to grow Irish bells - by seedlings and by sowing seeds in the ground. To obtain healthy, well-developed plants, it is necessary to adhere to the terms, rules of planting and caring for molucella.
Seed sowing dates
In southern regions with warm mild climates, Irish bells are sown directly into the ground in early April. In other regions, seedlings are sown in boxes at the end of March. The first shoots appear after two weeks. During this period, one should not hesitate with the thinning of plants. It is necessary to remove excess seedlings so that the distance between adjacent specimens is at least 25 cm.
In nature, Irish bells reproduce by self-seeding.
Site and soil requirements
When sowing Irish bells on seedlings, a container with soil mixture is prepared in advance. It should be filled with nutritious soil (peat, humus, turf soil in equal proportions), and covered with a thin layer of sand on top. The soil is warmed up, moistened and then the seeds are sown.
In the open field, a sunny place is chosen for Irish bells. Slight shading of the area is acceptable. Molucella prefers loose soils without stagnant moisture, with good air permeability. It can grow on poor soil, but it develops better on fertile soil. With an excess of organic fertilizers, especially fresh manure, there is a high probability of the occurrence of fungal pathologies in the Irish bell.
Irish bells can be sown before winter, in October
Sowing seeds and aftercare
Sowing can be carried out in boxes and any containers. After filling them with soil mixture, seeds of Irish bells, similar to buckwheat, are distributed over the surface of the moistened sand. They should be 2.5-3 cm apart. The seeds are slightly pressed into the sand, sprinkled with a layer of soil, no more than 5 mm thick and moistened from above with a sprayer.
The top of the container is covered with glass or foil. To create optimal conditions, it is necessary to maintain an air temperature of about 15 ⁰С and diffuse lighting.
Periodically, the greenhouse must be ventilated and the soil must be moistened. After 1.5-2 weeks, the first seedlings of Irish bells should appear. They can be uneven and take a very long time to emerge (up to 4 weeks).
After emergence, the sprouts begin to develop rapidly. In the two-leaf stage, they need to be cut into separate pots (peat, plastic containers).
2 weeks before planting in open ground, it is necessary to harden the seedlings of Irish bells. To this end, you should often ventilate the room, take out containers with seedlings to a loggia, balcony or outside.
Important! At first, young plants must be shaded so that they do not get burned.
Irish bells are native to India, North Africa and the Mediterranean.
Landing in open ground
The hardened seedlings of Irish bells are planted in the garden at a time when the threat of return frost disappears.
The soil is dug up, holes are made according to the size of the root system, taking into account the earthen coma 40 cm apart. Irish bells are planted by transshipment or with a small clod of earth. Plants are watered and lightly shaded if the location is sunny.
Important! The shelter is removed after the plant has taken root.
The main requirement for watering molucella is regularity. If precipitation in the form of rain periodically falls, you should not specially moisten the soil near the plants. When the drought and heat are prolonged, abundant irrigation is carried out at least once every 2 days.
Irish bells respond quickly to fertilization. They begin to grow well, delight with lush flowering. The use of mineral complex fertilizers and organic matter is recommended. To obtain abundant flowering, top dressing is applied under the bushes twice a month.
Fresh manure as a top dressing is detrimental to molucella
In order for the molucella to remain decorative throughout the season, wilted inflorescences must be removed. Yellowed foliage and damaged shoots are also cut out.
Sowing in the ground
If the sowing of the Irish bell is carried out in open ground, a number of sequential operations must be performed:
- Shallow grooves are made in the prepared soil.
- Moisturize them.
- Spread out the seeds with an interval of 2 cm.
- Fall asleep with a small layer of soil.
Important! After the emergence of seedlings, they are thinned out several times, leaving in the end result 40 cm between the plants.
Further care for Irish bells is the same as for those obtained through seedlings.
Flowers create spectacular wedding bouquets
Diseases and pests
Irish bells have good immunity, get sick and are very rarely attacked by pests. Planting in a damp area, waterlogging as a result of improper watering or rainy weather can lead to root rot. Fungicides and the creation of favorable conditions for plants help to correct the situation.
When and how to collect seeds
Irish bluebell seeds are harvested as they mature. It is necessary to carefully monitor this process so that they do not crumble.
After collection, the seed is dried, placed in paper bags and stored in a dark, dry, cool place. Under proper conditions, germination is maintained for more than 3 years.
Preparing for winter
At the end of autumn, after the first frost, the bushes of annual species of Irish bells are removed from the site. Perennial molucella are cut to hemp, spud, covered with foliage or covered with spruce branches.
Molucella in landscape design
The original Irish bells are widely used by landscape designers and ordinary gardeners to give the site originality and uniqueness. The classic option is placement on flower beds, mixborders, in the form of tapeworms and borders. Since the height of the molucella bush is above average, most often the plant is placed in the background, using it as a background for other decorative flowers.
With the help of Irish bells, you can create a flower bed that looks noble and sophisticated. It is decorated in white and green colors. This option will appeal to those who are tired of brightness and variegation. You can place a flower bed in one of the corners of the garden, highlighting it favorably against the general background. A trio made up of snapdragon with white inflorescences of amaranth and molucella looks spectacular. The Irish bell goes well with delphiniums.
Irish bells are best staggered
Mixed plantings have recently been used much more often than flower beds, on which flowers are arranged in a clear geometric order. Irish bells are planted in the background, creating an original backdrop against which the red flowers look most impressive. Tobacco in greenish shades, burgundy lilies, primroses and coleus with raspberry foliage can be good companions for molucella.
For lovers of exotic style, Irish bells are a real find. It is recommended to plant them so that they look like candles, and arrange the rest of the bright flowers in tiers, resembling the jungle.
The long flowering of molucella, its decorative effect and high growth make it possible to use the plant in order to hide the unsightly places of the plots, part of the fence or building. Hops, marigolds, fern, lemongrass, lupine, nasturtium successfully emphasize the uniqueness of Irish bells.
Single plantings of molucella on lawns, near reservoirs, in pots and containers look beautiful. They look good as curbs and hedges. On rich soils, their height, the size of the flowers and the volume of the bush surprise others.
Important! Irish bells are suitable for cut and dry bouquets.
Irish bells are loved by flower growers for their unusual decorativeness and the ability to implement the most unexpected design ideas. A rare shade of green foliage and a beautiful bloom of molucella are used to create spectacular bouquets. It is not difficult to grow bells, it is important to follow the rules of sowing and caring for the plant.