Members of the Moluccella plant genus are hardy or half hardy annuals that reach from 45 to 90 cm 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.
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.
Miscellaneous: Considered to be a plant that brings good luck.
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; they normally take about one to five weeks to germinate. Seedlings should be transplanted outside after the last frost of spring, about 30cm apart.
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.