Campanula is a large genus with about 300 species, all native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. There are annual, biennial and perennial types within the genus. Carpathian Bellflower, Carpathian Harebell, or Tussock Bellflower (Campanula carpatica) is one of the low growing, perennial species that originates from the Carpathian Mountains of southeastern Europe. One of the best selections of this species is the ‘Clips’ series. There are a number of variations on the basic ‘Blue Clips’ with its blue-purple flowers. ‘Deep Blue Clips’ offers a slightly darker shade of violet-blue, while ‘Light Blue Clips’ is paler. ‘White Clips’ is a pure white version that tends to be slower growing and a bit more compact. They are all hardy to zone 3.
The plant forms a neat mound of light green foliage about a foot wide and 6-8 inches tall. Unlike some Campanulas, this species is not an aggressive runner; it remains as a compact clump for many years. The small, smooth-textured, heart shaped, slightly toothed leaves emerge in spring, and by mid-summer upturned, cup- or bell-shaped flowers 1-2 inches wide are produced on thin, wiry stems held up above the leaves. They bloom for several weeks, producing numerous flowers on each plant. A sparse re-bloom sometimes continues throughout the summer to early fall in cool summer climates.
Grow C. carpatica in full sun to partial shade in fertile, well-drained soil, spacing plants 12-14 inches apart. The plants do best with cool roots, so mulch and provide adequate moisture during dry weather. This plant works well in the front of the border and is also at home in the rock garden. It can be used as a groundcover in the mixed perennial border or even in containers. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and can be used as cut flowers. Deadhead to promote additional flowering.
‘Blue Clips’ has few pests, but slugs can damage tender new foliage, and fungal pathogens occasionally attack the leaves.
Propagate Carpathian bellflower by dividing the clumps in spring or early summer. The species can also be grown from seed (direct sown outdoors in fall or after last frost, or started indoors before last frost) but the named varieties many not come true from seed.
– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison
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