Wildflower Wednesday: Harebell

Wildflower Wednesday is a monthly appreciation of wildflowers hosted by Gail of Clay and Limestone on the fourth Wednesday of every month. (Admittedly, as I write this it is actually Tuesday night, but I don’t think I will have time for blogging tomorrow.) This month I want to recognize Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia L.), a bellflower native to North America and an excellent choice for the front of the border in a dry, sunny spot.

Harebell, Lanceleaf Coreopsis
Harebell with Lanceleaf Coreopsis

Campanula means little bell, and all members of the genus have bell-shaped flowers. According to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, the common name is believed to come from an association of this plant with witches, who in certain circles are believed to turn themselves into hares. Look, if you can’t believe Ladybird Johnson, who can you believe? It is definitely not called harebell because hares like to eat it. As far as I have seen, this flower is pretty much left alone by rabbits. (Rabbits are the same as hares, aren’t they?)

Harebell has small but profuse dangling blue flowers from June through September. If blooming stops or the plant gets too untidy, it should be cut back. It may have a second flush of blooms later in fall. Bees like the flowers, and reportedly hummingbirds do as well, though I have never seen this.

Harebell, Campanula rotundifolia
Harebell Closeup

This is a plant that is content in dry, thin soils. It also does fine in more fertile soils with medium moisture. Harebell likes full sun, but tolerates some shade.

As noted earlier, this is a good candidate for the front of the border, growing about one foot tall with a bushy habit. Harebell forms a clump, but does not run and I have not noticed any tendency to self-sow. In the right conditions it is a very easy plant.

Consider Harebell as an alternative to the Carpathian bellflower (Campanula carpatica), an excellent plant from Europe but far more common in American gardens.

44 Comments on “Wildflower Wednesday: Harebell

  1. Beautiful shots of a graceful, classy bloomer. The color of Campanula is one of my favorites, and it complements the golden yellow of the Coreopsis. Great choice for Wildflower Wednesday.

    • You’re right. I bet there are some good books out there that include the stories of some of the more interesting common names.

  2. We have a hard time with these in this area and I’ve wondered for years if it wasn’t our very acid soil that makes them so reluctant to thrive. They live for a year or two and then just fade away, without ever really taking hold.

  3. A very pretty flower!
    Interesting information, too!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  4. Another post with good information :-). Thank You. How many different flowers do you have? It’s so pretty.

  5. They are beautiful and can be grown as ornamentals. Some ornamentals in commerce once were weeds too.

  6. I have these, the previous owners planted them in cement bricks that surround the fir trees…and they do so well. It’s really amazing when you think of it.


  7. Thank you. I always love to see what you’ve planted because you always introduce things I’ve overlooked. Love the color..I’m so into blue in the garden these days…and I think we have this one in these parts too.

  8. I’m not sure why I don’t use this Campanula but I do love the combo with the coreopsis, a main stay in my garden and in my designs. I’ll have to add this harebell to my plant list, those dainty purple flowers will work well with many plants.

    • I love lots of Campanulas, especially the Peach Leaf Bellflower. I have not had great success with the Carpathian Bellflower, though it is a great plant.

  9. What a delicate little flower, both in colour and in shape. Very pretty paired with the yellow flower in your 2nd photo.

  10. You, my friend, are one
    great reason to celebrate
    this Easter season.
    Wishing you an Easter that’s
    as special as can be.

  11. Interestingly C. Rotundifolia is known around the world as Harebell, yet is known here in the UK as the Scottish Bluebell.
    Our folklore surrounding this plant is of fairies and witches. The witches are said to drink the Milk which then turns them into hares. Another common name over here for it is Milk Herb!
    A northern hemisphere native I had in my old garden but sadly doesn’t do well in the garden is now have.

  12. checked out wildflowers of Ontario – listed as Very photographic – how can I resist? Don’t think I’ve ever seen one growing in the wild though. Would be a lovely weave with your coreopsis.

    • Oh, why bother to resist? Go ahead and get some, and if you’re getting some, you might as well get a lot – it’ll look better that way.

  13. How interesting that you are writing about Campanula rotundifolia!
    I come from Norway and there this plant is called bluebell (or the Norwegian name for bluebell which is blåklokke), it is native to Norway and it grows everywhere, both wild and in people’s gardens. There are three variety depending on how far north it grows, C. rotundifolia ssp. rotundifolia, C. rotundifolia ssp. groenlandica and C. rotundifolia ssp. Gieseckiana.

    When I moved to Britain I saw mentioned bluebells everywhere, but they looked nothing like I was used to seeing. It took a while to understand that the British bluebell is a completely different plant, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, and to add to the confusion there is also the Spanish bluebell here, Hyacinthoides hispanica. As Angie is saying, the Norwegian bluebell is also called the Scottish bluebell in Scotland.
    I’d love to have one in my garden but I don’t think it would like the London climate 🙂

  14. I’ll have to tell my mother about this one, it might work in her planned wild flower meadow. Thanks!

  15. Interesting post! And now I wonder if this may be a good plant for the sunnier part of my woodland garden. I love the color, and the folklore associated with it would be a fun topic of conversation for visitors to my garden!

  16. What a pretty flower for Wildflower Wednesday and it grows well in dry thin soils! I have a spot for this one! Now I must order it. gail

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