How to Grow Shortia Plants

Guide to Growing Oconee bell, Fringe-bell, and Acony bell

Shortia are creeping hardy perennials that have evergreen rounded leaves.

They bloom in the spring time carrying pink tubular shaped flowers.

Their creeping nature makes Shortia an ideal plant for use in rock gardens.

Some of the common names for the pant include Fringe bell, Oconee Bell, and Nippon bells.

Shortia galacifolia
Shortia galacifolia (Oconee Bells) by Zen.

Shortia Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Oconee bell, Fringe-bell, Acony bell, Fringed galax.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 6 inches (15 cm). Matt forming.
  • Native: Mountainous regions of Asia and the Appalachian Mountains in Northern America.
  • Growing Region: Zones 4 to 8.
  • Flowers: Spring.
  • Flower Details: Fringed pink. Solitary, or on short racemes. Tubular.
  • Foliage: Evergreen. Alternate. Rounded.

  • Sow Outside: Tiny seeds that often germinate in their capsules. Very difficult to grow from seed. Sow on the Surface. Fresh seed. Late summer.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: one to two months. Put seeds on the top of a moist growing medium, place in a freezer bag, then stratify by refrigeration for three weeks. Maintain at ~63°F (17°C). Transplant outdoors following the last frost. Space at 10 inches (25 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Partial to full shade. Acidic soil. Moist organic soil, enhance with leaf mold. Provide mulch to keep soil cool. Regular watering during dry periods. Propagate: from cuttings at the start of summer or by dividing at the start of spring (though it is best not to disturb the plants once established).
  • Family: Diapensiaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Galax, Schizocodon.
  • Miscellaneous: The northern American species Shortia galacifolia (Oconee bell) was thought to have become extinct from glacier activities but was rediscovered growing at low elevations in the mountains of North Carolina in the 19th century, and is now a commonly available. Asian species used to be classified as a spate genus, Schizocodon, as they have more winged seeds.

How to grow Shortia

When growing fringe bells and other members of the Shortia genus from seeds, it is easiest to sow them outdoors from spring towards the end of summer.

Sow the seeds on the soil surface. Space at about 30 cm (1 foot) apart. Locate in a shaded or partially shady part of the garden.

Shade is important as fringe Bells require a cool soil, additionally the soil should be acidic, and moist.

If starting Shortia plants indoors, then they should be imbibed by placing the seeds (within soil) in a black bag, then placing in the fridge for three weeks.

Seeds should then be sown out at a temperature of 15 to 18 Celsius (59 to 64°F). They normally take about one or two months to germinate.

Seedlings should be transplanted following the last frost of spring.

Caring for Shortia

These plants are not the easiest to look after. Shortia requires a cool soil, so supply a leaf mold mulch. Water the plants in the growing season to keep the soil moist.

Although they can be propagated by division it is best not to disturb Shortia plants, so if you require more plants take from cuttings in the summer.

Common Questions

How many members does the Shortia genus have?

The Shortia genus is made up of approximately 6 species, notable for their attractive, evergreen foliage and delicate white flowers.

Do members of Shortia make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Shortia species can make charming additions to shade or woodland gardens due to their delicate flowers and ornamental leaves.

Which Shortia species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Shortia galacifolia (Oconee Bells) is a popular choice for gardeners due to its rare beauty and delicate, bell-shaped flowers.

Are members of the Shortia plant genus fragrant?

The flowers of Shortia are not known for their fragrance, but their beauty makes them desirable nonetheless.

What is the perfect location to grow Shortia?

Shortia species prefer shady locations with well-drained, acidic soil rich in organic matter.

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

Currently, Shortia is not considered invasive in the USA. It's always wise to consult local regulations for the most accurate information.

How do I remove Shortia plants from my garden?

For removing Shortia, carefully dig up the plants, ensuring all roots are removed to prevent regrowth.


The Shortia plant genus contains perennial plants native to eastern North America and eastern Asia. They are valued for their attractive, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in spring, and their glossy, evergreen leaves.

To grow Shortia, plant seeds or divisions in autumn or spring. They prefer shady to partially shady locations and well-drained, humus-rich soil. Regular watering is required, particularly during dry periods, but overwatering should be avoided to prevent root rot.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Shortia plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides useful for florists: How to grow Cyclamen persicum and Kalanchoe blossfeldiana plants.