of the month
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Moluccella laevis (mo-lu-SEL-la LAY-vis, or mol-you-CHELL-a
Bells-of-Ireland, Shellflower, Molucca balm
Bells-of-Ireland are lightly scented flowers that grow 24 to 36
inches tall. They have 1- to 2-inch-long bell-shaped calyces
(the outer leaves that appear at the base of most flowers) that
cling closely to the upper halves of the stems and are arranged
in several whorls of six. The plants’ true flowers, which are
tiny, fragrant and white, are found inside the calyces.
Bells-of-Ireland’s showy calyces are available in apple-green
With proper care, bells-of-Ireland can last from eight to 10
These flowers are available year-round; peak availability is
June through October.
bells-of-Ireland at 36 F to 38 F.
WATER Check water levels
daily, and add flower-food solution as needed. Remove any
damaged or dying foliage or calyces. Recut stems every two to
three days to ensure effective water uptake.
bells-of-Ireland upright to prevent the stems from exhibiting
geotropism (the flowers’ natural tendency to curve upward due to
the force of gravity).
Bells-of-Ireland are not sensitive to ethylene gas.
CONSUMER CARE TIPS Advise
customers to display these flowers in cool locations, out of
direct sunlight and away from heat sources. They should put the
blossoms in the coldest room of the house at night and mist them
for longer enjoyment.
DRYING To dry
bells-of-Ireland, select stems that are fully developed. Air-dry
them by hanging them upside down, or stand them upright in a
solution of glycerine and water. They do wilt, so give them
support for the first day. Dry them in a cool, dark, airy
location. Remove the sparse, prickly, textured leaves from the
stems so the bells become more conspicuous.
CREATING GARLANDS Beautiful
garlands can be created easily by trimming out stem sections and
threading floret sections together. String with other fresh or
dried materials for variety.
QUICK REPAIR If a stem tip
becomes broken during handling, a wire can be inserted into the
hollow stem to repair the damage. Usually, no visible wilting
will occur if the stem has not been severed.
BLOOMS Purchase these
blossoms when the tiny florets inside the calyces appear fresh.
STEMS Inspect the stems for
thickness, sturdiness and any broken tips.
FOLIAGE Watch for any signs
of bruising, mold or discolored foliage.
WHAT'S IN A NAME Despite its
common name “bells-of-Ireland,” the plant isn’t a native of
Ireland. Rather, the name refers to the green color of the
“bells,” or calyces. It hails from the Eastern Mediterranean
region to Northwest India, Asia Minor and the Moluccas (Spice
Islands), from which the genus name is derived. The species name
“laevis” means “smooth,” possibly in reference to the true
FAMILY Bells-of-Ireland are
members of the Labiatae, or Lamiaceae, (mint) family. Common
relatives include Coleus, lavender (Lavandula), mint (Mentha),
Monarda (bee balm), Physostegia (false dragonhead, obedient
plant), rosemary (Rosmarinus) and Salvia (sage).
CAUTION The foliage on
bells-of-Ireland is prickly and can be irritating to the skin.
Remove the leaves to avoid allergic reactions or rashes. The
beautiful green bells also will show better.
Some information provided by:
The Chain of Life Network® ,
Ańo Nuevo Flower Growers Inc., Pescadero, Calif.
Royal Botanical Gardens,
Floral Art Mall,
You may reach “Cut Flower of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.