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Canarina canariensis - Canary Island Bellflower

Canarina canariensis - the Canary Island Bellflower - is a beautiful, rare Campanula relative that you won't find at your local plant nursery.  It comes from the cool cloud forests of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco.  This tuberous plant makes glossy, orangey-red blossoms throughout winter, when most plants lack color.  This is a hard-to-find plant, and mature tubers are rarely seen for sale.  More pictures of this beauty are here.  Freshly-picked seeds are rarely seen for sale.

Canarina canariensis - Canary Island Bellflower

Canarina canariensis forms a big cluster of storage tubers, each about 2-3 inches long.  These help the plant survive during the dry summer dormant period.  In late-summer, long, scrambling shoots appear, with arrow-shaped, jagged-edged leaves.  The shoots are 5 to 9 feet long and meander up through other plants or along the ground.  The beautiful, bell-shaped flowers appear in late autumn or winter.  The 2 inch long blooms have darker veins that give them a pinstriped look.  The blooms are followed by edible, sweet fruit!  The foliage then dies down to the tubers in the spring, until growth resumes in late summer.      

Canarina canariensis - Canary Island Bellflower

The Canary Island Bellflower comes from a cool climate and is happiest between 45 and 75 degrees F (7-24 degrees C) during the growing season.  I don't recommend this plant for areas that regularly get above 75-80 degrees (24-27 C) from October through March (in the Southern hemisphere, April to September) with warm nights.  The plant needs protection from all frost, since freezing temperatures may kill the foliage.  During the summer dormant period, the soil needs to be kept dry (although not bone-dry).  

Canarina canariensis - Canarina canariensis

The plant grows well in a 3-5 gallon (10-20 liter) container.  You may tie the shoots to a trellis or fence, or let them trail along the ground and scramble through bushes.  It prefers filtered sunlight, or morning sun + afternoon shade.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Give it moist, well-draining soil, such as 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite or coarse sand.  Over about 40% humidity is recommended.  In the right conditions, it is an easy, care-free plant.

Canarina canariensis - Canary Island Bellflower

Flower photos by Wouter Hagens and Kai Becker

 

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Germinating the seeds

 

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