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 cm to 60 cm
- Growth width (from)
- from 20 cm to 30 cm
- Growth characteristics
- Flower color
- Flowering time (month)
- May to October
- Flower shape
- Leaf color
- page format
- 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
- rich in humus
- Decorative or utility value
- Flower Decoration
- Grave planting
- Garden style
- Flower garden
- Roof Garden
- Pot garden
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.
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 bell leaves are dark green with an elliptical shape. The foliage and stalks are slightly sticky.
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.
After flowering the fructescences develop in the form of small, green seed capsules which turn a brown color while maturing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.