How to Grow Moluccella Plants

Guide to Growing Bells of Ireland, Shell Flower and Irish Bells

Members of the Moluccella plant genus are hardy or half hardy annuals that reach from 45 to 90 cm (18 to 36 inches) in height.

They are upright and carry minute white flowers that are covered by circular green cones.

Some of the common names for Moluccella include Irish bells, Shellflower, and Bells of Ireland.

Moluccella laevis

Bells of Ireland
Photographs of Moluccella laevis / Bells of Ireland by Greengardenvienna; creative commons.

Moluccella Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Bells of Ireland, Shell Flower, Molucca Balmis, Irish Bells.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual, hardy annual. Half hardy perennial.
Height: 16 to 36 inches (40 to 100 cm).
Native: Mediterranean, West and South Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10.

Flowers: Late spring and summer. In warm areas a second sowing may flower in autumn.
Flower Details: White. Tiny flowers. These are covered by calyces of apple green; cones. These grow on tall spikes.
Foliage: Pale green. Rounded. Sharp thorns.

Sow Outside: Surface. Before last frost and in late summer (chill seeds first as described below). Spacing 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm).
Sow Inside: Mix seeds in a growing medium, place in a freezer bag, keep moist, then stratify by refrigeration for one week. Use peat pots. Germination time: one week to five weeks in the light. Temperature 55 to 60°F (13 to 16°C). Ten weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight or partial shade. Average soils. Supply support. Monthly feed. Regular watering.
Family: Lamiaceae.
Miscellaneous: Considered to be a plant that brings good luck.

How to Grow Irish Bells, Bells of Ireland and other Moluccella Plants kn the Garden

If you plan to grow Irish bells (and other Moluccella) outdoors from seed, then sow them on the soil surface before the last frost of spring.

Irish bells prefer to grow in an ordinary soil, and can grow in either a sunny or partially shaded area of the garden.

If you plan to first grow Irish bells indoors then start about 10 weeks in advance.

The seeds should be imbibed by placing the seeds (within soil) in a black plastic bag, then placing in the fridge for five or six days.

Seeds should then be sown out in peat pots in the light at a temperature of 10 to 15 Celsius (50 to 59°F). They normally take about one to five weeks to germinate.

Seedlings should be transplanted outside after the last frost of spring. Space at about 30 cm (12 inches) apart.

Caring for Moluccella Plants in the Garden

Irish bells are easy to look after; they require frequent watering and a monthly application of fertiliser.

For taller varieties of Moluccella plant it may be necessary to stake them. If you require more Moluccella Plants then they can be propagated by allowing to self seeds, do not take cuttings.

Common Questions

How many members does the Moluccella genus contain?

The Moluccella genus has about 15 species, with Bells of Ireland, being the most well-known.

Do Moluccella members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Moluccella is often grown for its striking green, bell-shaped calyces which make a statement in borders and are fantastic in cut flower arrangements.

Which Moluccella species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Moluccella laevis, the Bells of Ireland, is the most frequently grown species due to its distinctive, long-lasting green flowers.

Are Moluccella plants fragrant?

While Moluccella plants are visually striking, they are not typically noted for their fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Moluccella?

Moluccella prefers full sun or light shade and well-drained soil. It's a great choice for borders or cottage-style gardens.

Is Moluccella invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Moluccella is not considered invasive in the USA. It's a popular annual flower in many gardens.

How do I remove Moluccella plants from my garden?

As an annual, Moluccella can be removed at the end of the season by simply pulling up the plants.


Moluccella, belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is best known for its species Moluccella laevis, commonly called Bells of Ireland. These annual plants are appreciated for their distinctive, bell-shaped calyces that surround tiny white flowers.

Plant Moluccella in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. It's ideal to sow their seeds directly in the garden in early spring. Water them regularly but avoid overwatering. With proper care, they can add a unique architectural element to borders, or be used in fresh or dried flower arrangements.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Moluccella plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Aconite, Lima Beans, and Coleus plants.