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Bluebells are a plant from the asparagus family. They are perennial, which means they live for more than two years. However, they can self-seed and spread easily, though it might take five to seven years for flowers to appear.

Like most flowering plants, bluebells are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. Bluebells have nodding tubular flowers with six tepals (which is where the outer part cannot easily be classified as a petal or a sepal) rather than petals, that appear in late spring. They only bloom for about two weeks.

English bluebells have narrow leaves and purple (rarely white) flowers that grow on only one side of the drooping stem with strongly recurved tepals. They are being bullied out by Spanish bluebells (wider leaves and usually light blue or pink flowers growing all around the upright stem with splayed tepals) and even more so by the hybrid bluebell (blue, white or pink flowers growing all around the slightly drooping stem with bell-shaped tepals). If you prefer the Spanish or hybrid bluebells, make sure to only plant them in your garden where they can't escape into the wild!


Bluebells grow in temperate climates, in the ground or in containers.

What does it need?

They like sun but can also grow well in partial shade in all types of soil, but need good drainage as they rot if kept too wet. Although they can be dead-headed after flowering, the rest of the plant should be left to die back naturally - they use their leaves to store up food reserves for the future. If you are near English bluebells, be careful not to trample the leaves!

What needs it?

Bluebells flower earlier than many other plants, helping to sustain butterflies, bees and hoverflies who all feed on their nectar.

Bluebells can spread fast and provide good ground cover. This helps to cover the soil, stop sunlight penetrating through, and block weeds from taking root.

The whole plant is toxic so they are little used in modern medicine. However, their bulbs contain chemicals that increase urination and help to stop bleeding so research on how they could potentially help fight cancer is ongoing.

Fun fact!

Their bulbs contain muselage and inulin - in the past, this was used as a glue for fixing feathers and arrows, for bookbinding, and to stiffen the ruff collars worn by the Elizabethans.

See a video here, and learn more here!

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