Magic Bells (Calibrachoa) - Seeds and Care
Calibrachoa, too Magic bells, is a popular balcony plant, which, if properly maintained, lives up to its name by forming new flowers even in summer. With her colorful flowers, she knows how to turn every balcony into a flower paradise. Externally, the plant resembles the petunia with which it is also related, but both belong to different genera. Magic bells are available in many colors, so you can stir up your balcony or your patio or garden.
The Calibrachoa genus has long been considered a petunia. Only after the two genera were examined by means of morphological and molecular biological methods, the experts found that both genera are monophyletic, ie have a common ancestral form, and thus the division of the genus is justified in two forms. According to Fregonezi et al, there are a total of 27 species in the inner system.
Difference to Petunia
At first glance, the hobby gardener sees no difference between calibrachoa and petunia. Although the two plants are related to each other, there is still a significant difference.
Petunias grow expansively and have larger flowers. Particularly beautiful are Surfinia petunia, whose shoots develop particularly strong and form powerful tow. Calibrachoa (millionbells), on the other hand, form small flowers that, on the other hand, are able to enchant with their large number. The compact flowers branch well, forming a sea of color.
Especially in young plants, it is difficult to distinguish between petunia and Calibrachoa, because the features mentioned above are not so clear. Nevertheless, there is a clear hint: The flowers of the Petunia are radial, that is, regularly shaped. The funnels are shaped so that you could cut them in different places and always get the same halves. The Calibrachoa, however, has flattened funnels. It would produce equal halves only if cut in a vertical section.
Another clue to distinguish between petunia and calibrachoa is the characteristic odor of the former. Calibrachoa, however, have no scent. Furthermore, petunias have sticky shoots, while at Calibrachoa nothing sticks. But beware: there are crosses between calibrachoa and petunia, which have radial flowers whose shoots do not stick.
The care of Calibrachoa begins with the selection of a suitable location. Magic bells love to bathe in the sun. Consequently, it is advisable that their location is oriented to the south, south-east or south-west. Compared to the petunias, which are rather sensitive comrades, the Calibrachoa also tolerates one or the other rain showers and stronger wind. In these strong weather conditions, the plant folds up its petals until everything is over and the sun is shining.
Apart from the siting, one should also note the following care instructions:
- the selected plant soil should be slightly acidic
- rhododendron or Petunia earth
- plants with weak water, not tap water, pour
- Calibrachoa are thirsty and generally need a lot of water
- in the warm season magic bells pour in the morning and in the evening
- waterlogged plants do not like Calibrachoa varieties
- every month pamper the plant with iron fertilizer
- dispose of old parts of the plant
- regularly cut them with vigorous growth
While relatives (petunias and mini-petunias) have to dispose of daily debris, magic bells do significantly less work. Bloomed bells are partially overgrown with new flowers.
From March to September 2009, the Bavarian State Research Center for Viticulture and Horticulture tested various crop tonic combinations and their influence on the growth, stress tolerance and health of ten Calibrachoa varieties. The investigation makes it clear that the use of plant strengthening agents is worthwhile at the beginning of the growth of the plants. Only orange and yellow Calibrachoa varieties were tested because they are considered to be particularly sensitive. The exact results of the study can be found in this PDF (701 KB).
Like any other plant, harmful images show up as soon as the magic bells do not feel well. These include:
- Mushrooms: Thielaviopsis basicola is a fungal pathogen that destroys the root bark of the plant. This destruction is observed as a brownish discoloration of the root. Through the destroyed roots, the plant grows slower and its leaves turn yellow.
- Withering: Withering, dry flowers are a sign of lack of water or waterlogging. The plant vessel, with its magic bells, must have a drainage hole covered with drainage.
- Chlorosis: If the green leaves turn yellow, even though autumn is not yet approaching, the plant could become jaundiced be. The cause of chlorosis is iron deficiency, which can be compensated with a suitable fertilizer. As a precautionary measure, it is advisable to pour magic bells with soft water. The classic tap water is hard and can damage the plant.
- Aphids: This plague is feared throughout Europe and is not afraid to attack Calibrachoa. The millimeter-sized nipples feed on the juice of the magic bells, causing the flower to die off slowly. The biological secret weapon against aphids is lecithin.
- White flies: These harmless-looking flies are only a few millimeters in size, but can cause great damage if they settle on the underside of the plant and suck out the sap. Whether the plant is affected, can be seen in the small yellow spots on the leaves. Later, they wither and eventually fall off. The natural enemy of the white fly is the parasitic wasp.
- Incompatibility: Magic bells unfortunately do not tolerate the organic fertilizer Optifer, which consists of natural iron chelate. The incompatibility is extremely manifest in the form of leaf necrosis on the leaves and the flowers.
Hardly any garden lover will show off just a few magic bells in his garden or on his balcony. Once you have this delightful plant closed in the heart, you want to bloom it in even greater numbers.
The multiplication of the magic bells is possible in two ways :
- Cuttings: Late spring is the ideal time to Increase magic bells using cuttings. So the young plants have enough time to train their roots. For propagation you just have to put the ten-centimeter-long cuttings in a nutrient-rich substrate and keep it moist. To allow the shoot to form, reduce the leaves on the cutting by half.
- Sowing: The second way to multiply Calibrachoa is by sowing. For this you have to collect some seeds of the plant in the fall. These are found in green seed capsules under withered flowers. Whether the seeds are ripe for harvest can be seen by being easy to remove. Next, keep the seeds in a warm, dry container. There they linger until the capsules open and the seeds emerge. The seeds then migrate until March into a container that is half filled with sand and petunia soil and has a warm location. Every day you have to spray the seeds with water to create a humid and warm climate and close the container with a lid. Once the germs reach a length of three centimeters, put the lid only slightly. If they grow another two centimeters, they can be planted in individual pots. In the middle of May, they are big enough to replant them in window boxes and Co.
Calibrachoa is an annual plant that ends its life in winter. However, experienced hobby gardeners are able to overwinter the plant. The preparation for the hibernation begins in autumn: At this time, the shoots are cut to a length of five to ten centimeters. In winter, the magic bells must be kept in a warm, sunny place, a heated greenhouse, for example. Even if the plant does not hibernate in comparison to others, it needs less water. Therefore hobby gardeners must reduce the watering accordingly. What magic bells do not need at all is fertilizer.
As spring approaches, Calibrachoa will slowly get used to warmer temperatures. At this time she also receives fertilizer in small doses. By the middle of May it is finally warm enough for the plant to be released back into the wild.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
When and how do you plant magic bells?
Magic bells are planted in spring.
What is a magic bells?
The Magic Bells (Calibrachoa) is a perennial herb that produces countless small bell-shaped flowers. That's why the plant is called Million Bells. Originally from Brazil, it is popular because of its long flowering period. Depending on the variety different blooming colors are possible. The strong and overhanging growth of the magic bells can reach a length of up to 50 centimeters.
Which plants are suitable for the magic bells?
In growth, magic bells are very dominant, so low-growth plants should not be nearby. Suitable partner plants include, for example, snowflake flowers, lantana, verbena, hanging petunia, licorice or bimanweed.
How to cultivate magic bells correctly?
Magic bells require regular watering so that the substrate is always slightly moist. This is especially true on hot summer days. However, it is important that you avoid waterlogging. All in all, magic bells are relatively easy to care for.
When is the heyday of the magic bells?
The magic bells begin to bloom in May. The flowering period often lasts until October, so that plant lovers can enjoy the flowers all summer long. Glitter bells are available in a variety of finishes, including white, pink, blue, yellow, red, orange, or purple flowers.
Where to Buy Seeds of Magic Bells?
The Seed of Magic Bells is available in many hardware stores or garden stores. Alternatively, it can also be ordered on the Internet or taken from the seed pods of an already existing magic bells.
When and how is the cut done by magic bells?
Normally the magic bells do not have to be trimmed at all. This makes sense only with excessive growth. Otherwise it is sufficient to remove the dead and withered inflorescences.
How to properly winter magic bells?
The magic bells is an annual plant, which is why it is not necessary to hibernate. Some experienced gardeners have already managed to overwinter the magic bells in a bright winter habitat at a temperature of 14 degrees Celsius.
How does the multiplication of magic bells work?
Propagation can be either with cuttings or with seeds. For a cuttings propagation, the late spring is ideal. Then the magic bells still have enough time to form strong roots. You cut 10 centimeters long cuttings and put them in a nutrient-rich substrate. Then it has to be kept slightly moist all the time. Ideally, you should halve the leaves on the cuttings. The young shoot, for example, invests its energy better in rooting. Who decides to propagate with seeds, seeds in the first spring months in suitable planters. Then a little soil is sprinkled over the seeds and the pot covered with moist soil. This creates a humid climate. From May on, the young plants can be transplanted to the free pool or into a balcony box.
How often do you need to fertilize magic bells?
It makes sense to fertilize the magic bells once every two weeks. All you need is a commercially available fertilizer. To prevent iron deficiency, you should replace the normal fertilizer with iron fertilizer at regular intervals.
Family: Solanaceae (Solanaceae)
Item Image: © AN NGUYEN / Shutterstock