Plants

Million bells

Calibrachoa-Hybriden

Eva Monning Eva Monning

Million bells look like pretty mini petunias and confidently conquer planting baskets and balcony boxes. We have tips for planting and care.

Growth type
  • one year old
Growth height (from)
from 40.00cm to 60.00cm
Growth width (from)
from 20.00cm to 30.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • sweeping
  • overhanging
Flower color
  • purple
  • blue
  • yellow
  • orange
  • red
  • pink
  • white
  • multicolored
Flowering time (month)
  • May to October
Flower shape
  • Uniflorous
  • small
  • Funnel
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • elliptiques
Light
  • sunny to scattered light
Soil type
  • gravelly to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • fresh to moderately humid
ph value
  • weakly acidic to acidic
Lime compatibility
  • sensitive to lime
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
Use
  • Flowerbeds
  • Grave planting
  • Planters
Garden style
  • Flower garden
  • Roof Garden
  • patio
  • Pot garden

Origin

Million bells do not have a natural origin, they are an entirely cultivated plant. The pretty balcony flowers, form their own genus (Calibrachoa) in the Solanaceae family. Due to their close relationship to petunias, they were previously treated as one genus, but this has now been revised. The rise in popularity of the mini petunias, which began in the 90s, was so rapid, that specialists worried they would outrank the large-flowered petunia. Instead, today they flower peacefully next to one another - in ever emerging new colors.

Growth

Similar to their big sister, petunias, Million bells have a sweeping, herby growth. When hanging, shoots can grow up to 20 inches long. Nonetheless, the plant has compact inner growth, so that it develops into a closed flower mat. Depending on the variety, plants grow 16 to 24 inches tall and up to 12 inches wide.

Million bells Trixi ‘Pink Petticoat’

It’s all about the mix: Million bells Trixi ‘Pink Petticoat’ in lavender, old rose and pink

Leaves

Million bell leaves are dark green with an elliptical shape. The foliage and stalks are slightly sticky.

Flowers

The countless tiny flowers of the Million bells are cup shaped and extremely colorful. The color selection of the extremely flowery million bells get larger each year. In addition to the classic pink, red and yellow tones, white and lemon-yellow varieties as well as vibrant orange ensure a furor and spread Mediterranean flair. The latest varieties with two-tone flowers, color blends and designs are also a big hit and provide exciting combination possibilities in pots, hanging baskets and flower boxes. Million bells bloom with uninterrupted, rich fullness until the fall.

‘Lemon Slice' and ‘Cherry Star'

The flowers of the Million bell variety ‘Lemon Slice’ have a yellow star on a white background (left), the ‘Cherry Star’ variety, on the other hand, has a red star on a yellow background (right)

Fruit

After flowering the fructescences develop in the form of small, green seed capsules which turn a brown color while maturing.

Location

These ornaments are best placed in sunny locations for rich blooms. Spots which receive sunlight all day are perfect, although they shouldn’t get too hot. If the location is dry with poor air circulation, the plants will be susceptible to pests. The keen commitment of breeders means that, unlike petunias, million bells today are largely rain and wind resistant.

Substrate

Million bells' roots value slightly acidic soil with a pH value of 5.5. Apart from this, the substrate should also be loose and permeable.

Watering

Million bells should be watered with soft rain water in order to prevent increasing the acidic milieu of the planting soil. Million bells do not tolerate waterlogging, therefore, it is important to water evenly but not too much and to ensure the plant container has good drainage.

Fertilizing

Million bells have high nutrient requirements. Fertilize either with long-term fertilizer or add liquid fertilizer to their water each week. In both cases, you should only use special petunia fertilizer - this is perfectly designed for the requirements of these tiny flowering miracles.

Further care

Slight pruning every three to four weeks stimulates the mini-petunia to continually branch out and develop more flower buds. Unlike the classic petunias, Million bells do not need to be pruned. The tiny flowers dry out in such a way when they have finished blooming, that they are hardly noticeable. They are also rapidly overgrown by lots of new flowers, which open daily.

Overwintering

Million bells are annual and are not winter-hardy, so you can simply restock them each year in the spring with the most beautiful new varieties.

Million bells hybrid ‘Carnival’

The Million bells hybrid ‘Carnival’ has three colors and bears red, yellow and purple colored flowers on a single plant

Utilization

Million bells are suitable for hanging baskets, balcony boxes and planting combinations in larger tubs. Million bells are also suitable in the garden as groundcover insunny locations due to their highly resilient nature. As Million bells are strong growers they require strong-growing planting partners. Their big sister, the petunia, as well as verbena are excellent matches. The Sweet potato (Ipomoea) is an appropriate structure plant. Million bells are also excellent as luxurious, colorful under-planting for standards.

Variety is the million bells’ trump card. The two-tone varieties are particularly appealing. So, for example, a white-red variety such as ‘Calita Hip Hop' can effectively set the scene with white verbena or low, white flowering baby’s breath. Or you could opt for dark stripes on the flowers with a dark, ornamental foliage plant such as the sweet potato ‘Purple' or the dark red African purple fountain grass ‘Rubrum' (Pennisetum setaceum). But even alone or mixed up together, million bells and petunias with their explosion of flowers are a fantastic sight.

Million bells in a hanging basket

Million bells are the perfect continuous bloomers for hanging baskets

Varieties

The multi-colored varieties of the Celebration series are the most well known. But the ‘Crackling Fire’ variety is also a classic among balcony plants. It has vibrant orange flowers with fine, yellow strips and sweeping, luxuriant growth. It does not tolerate waterlogging. The ‘Calita Orange’ million bells have lavish and powerfully bright flowers. The pre-packaged mixture of the varieties ‘Carneval’, ‘Magic Colors’ and ‘Petticoat’ have a multi-colored look. Breeders have also now successfully crossed petunias and million bells. The results are strong-growing, ‘Supercal’ varieties, such as ‘Neon Rose’, with medium-sized flowers and non-sticky foliage. And there are also double-flowered Million bells: The vibrant, pink-colored flowers of the ‘MiniFamous Double Pink’ and the blue ‘MiniFamous Double Blue’ varieties are like miniature works of art. The unusual variety ‘Chamaeleon Double Pink Yellow', changes its flower color and forms flowing color gradients from yellow to pink.

Million bells ‘Calita Double’

The double-flowered blossoms of the ‘Calita Double’ variety are beautiful

Propagation

If you want to make your Million bells carpet even bigger, you can easily propagate the plants in spring using or in the fall through seed sowing. Cuttings take root best in slightly moist petunia soil. Seeds can be collected from the deadhead flowers in the fall, as soon as the small capsules change color from green to brown. Store the seed capsules in a warm, dry place over the winter. As soon as they are ripe, the capsules open and the seeds can be shaken out. The seeds are re-sown from January. For this, place the million bells seeds in permeable petunia soil and lightly cover them. Then keep the soil moist and protect the sowing shell from drying out with plastic wrap. After a few weeks, the seedlings can be pricked out and left to grow in propagation pots until May. As soon as the night frosts are over, the tiny Million bells can be brought outside. If you grow million bells yourself, you can create individual, colorful variety combinations by mixing the cuttings.

Diseases and Pests

Million bells are sometimes infested by aphids and white flies. Both pests are best combatted with their natural enemies - ladybug larvae and parasitic wasps. In the event of waterlogging, the leaves turn yellow and root rot becomes a threat. If you water with tap water, you may enrich the soil with too much calcium, then the leaves will turn lighter as the roots cannot absorb sufficient iron. Acute iron deficiency (chlorosis) can be resolved using iron fertilizers from a specialist store. Special, iron rich petunia fertilizer mixed into the water once a week, prevents deficiency as it keeps the acidity levels in the soil low.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Million bells?

Million bells are annual balcony flowers which are extremely popular due to their many tiny flowers.

How long to million bells flower?

Million bells flower from May until October. If you want them to be even bushier with more flowers, you should trim them back every 3 to 4 weeks. Pruning is not necessary.

What works well with Million bells?

Million bells are wonderful in combination with petunias, verbena and sweet potatoes. Purple fountain grass is also a great planting partner.

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