Botanical name: Calibrachoa x hybrida
Other names: magic bells, Calibrachoa, Million Bells, mini petunia
Use: balcony and bedding plant, traffic light plant, annual ground cover, for planting in cemeteries, underplanting of potted plants such as stems
Origin: South America
Flower colours: pink, pink, purple, blue, orange, yellow, white, two-tone
Flowering period: April to October
Special features: Calibrachoa grow overhanging and are therefore ideal for balcony boxes, hanging baskets and for bowls, large pots and troughs. With its countless flowers and little maintenance, the annual plant brings a lot of color to the terrace, balcony and garden.
The magic bells from South America belong to the nightshade family. The growth and flower shape suggest a relationship with petunias. Botanically, the Calibrachoa, also known as Million Bells, are a separate genus. The warmth-loving balcony plants should not be planted out on the balcony, terrace, garden or cemetery until mid-May. It is easy to care for and all varieties reliably delight with tireless blooms well into autumn. Even without large flowers, the group has managed to become a favorite for balconies and terraces within a very short time. Just the multitude of flowers and the interesting colorsspeak for themselves! This also explains why Calibrachoa, like petunias, is one of the most popular ornamental plants for the summer.
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In which location does the magic bell feel most comfortable?
Calibrachoa tolerate a warm location with full sun, but can also be planted out in partial shade. If the place is too shady, the enchanting summer flowers only grow sparsely and do not bloom as profusely. A place that is protected from strong winds is also ideal, as the flowers and shoots break easily.
How do I plant my magic bells in the garden?
Repotting of the flowers is necessary for a rich abundance of flowers. The volume of soil in the culture pot is too small to supply the plants for months. Immediately after purchase, plant the Million Bells in a larger container with high-quality potting soil (pH 5.5 to 6) and sufficient slow-release fertilizer. This will give the Calibrachoa the best start. Look for a sunny location with a high humus content and good drainage.
Our gardening tip: At least 2 to 3 liters of soil are required for each balcony plant. With less volume, the maintenance effort increases significantly and the magic bells cannot develop optimally. The guideline is to plan no more than 4 to 5 plants per running meter, otherwise the magic bells Calibrachoa will quickly compete with each other and care will be more difficult.
How do I care for my magic bells in summer?
Caring for the mini petunia essentially consists of an even supply of water, fertilization and the administration of Vital Iron. The plants branch very well on their own and produce many funnel-shaped buds. A cut is not necessary, but can be done to regulate long shoots. There is also no need to clean the withered flowers, because in this genus the dead bells are simply overgrown by new bells. The small flowers seldom form seeds and without major care measures the flowering plants are permanently attractive.
How do I water my magic bells correctly?
The Calibrachoa are easy-care seasonal plants. Nevertheless, it is important that regular watering takes place. Immediately after planting, the water requirement is still low. Once the flower has established itself and temperatures are rising, regular daily watering may be necessary. It is important that Calibrachoa never dry out completely, but that there is also no stagnant moisture. How often you have to water depends largely on the temperatures, precipitation and the volume of soil. Calcareous water or rainwater is beneficial for Petunia and all types of Calibrachoa, as iron absorption is better guaranteed in soft water.
Our gardening tip: The best time to water is in the morning. This way, the Million Bells will have enough water for the day and won’t suffer in the midday heat. Water storage boxes help minimize the labor involved in watering. It is important that the substrate dries a little before watering again.
How do I fertilize my magic bells correctly?
With optimal nutrition, Million Bells grow and flower from May to October. Use long-term balcony flower fertilizer when planting the balcony plants. This gives the flowers a good start and you know they are well looked after with the slow-acting depot fertilizer for the first few weeks on the balcony. 4 to 6 weeks after planting, it is recommended to fertilize weekly with flower fertilizer with guano or flowering plant fertilizer. All varieties of petunia are plants with high iron requirements. An iron deficiency can first be recognized by the brightening of the youngest leaves. To avoid chlorotic brightening, you should regularly supply the magic bells with Bio Eisen-Vital from June onwards.
Which pests and diseases can the magic bell get?
With the right site conditions and optimal care, nightshade plants — such as Petunia — form many flowers and grow tirelessly into autumn. Pests or diseases can still occur:
The leaves show signs of being eaten and only leaf stalks are left if the infestation is severe. Check regularly for snail infestation and collect the slugs. Preventive treatments with herbal cures prevent an infestation. Petunia are also popular with snails and need to be protected.
Especially in phases with less light and less growth, the Million Bells are more susceptible to aphid infestation. Rinse the plants thoroughly with water at the first infestation. This measure usually helps.
The small white pests are a problem, especially in wind-protected, warm locations. The small insects are located on the underside of the leaves and yellow spots form on the leaves due to their sucking activity. The yellow leaves dry up and fall off. At the first infestation, remove the affected leaves and dispose of them with household waste. With yellow panels you can fight the whitefly on the balcony plants with low infestation. The use of parasitic wasps, a natural enemy of the whitefly, can also help to minimize the unwanted pests.
Plants hang limp despite sufficient water supply. This wilting is often the result of waterlogging. Keep plants drier and provide drainage if possible.
Lightened leaves are often a result of a lack of fertilizer. If the leaf veins are still green but the rest of the leaf is chlorotic, it is a sign of iron deficiency. Only regular treatment with a special iron fertilizer helps here.
A white, easy-to-wipe coating can be seen on the upper side of the leaf, which can even lead to the leaf dropping. Especially in very dry weather, infestation occurs on the foliage. Balanced fertilization and an even water supply are essential for prevention. Plants once affected are difficult to save.
Are you looking for more information about pests and diseases or do you have questions about a plant problem? Our plant doctors will be happy to help you – in person and online!
FAQ — Frequently Asked Questions about Magic Bells
Why isn’t my Million Bells blooming?
A lack of or sparse flowering can be the result of a shady location or too low temperatures. Change the location and new flowers will form.
Which plants are suitable for the combination?
- All balcony plants that prefer the sun are ideal.
The plants should have similar water requirements.
Examples of combinations are: Surfinia petunias, geraniums (Pelargonium), bidens, verbena, magic snow, vanilla flower, Lantana, sweet potato, hussar’s button, blue daisy, loyal to men, purslane and much more
How does the genus reproduce?
All petunia species can be easily propagated by cuttings. The best time for this is late summer. Use sharp scissors to cut the top cuttings from healthy plants only and place in seed trays or a seed tray with a clear cover. After 3 to 4 weeks the first roots have formed and the young plants can be repotted in pots with potting soil. Some varieties can also be propagated by seed. This method is a bit more time consuming than cuttings. The seed is very fine, but germinates reliably. Large-flowered species and hybrids can only be propagated by offshoots.
Can magic bells be overwintered?
Calibrachoa hybrids can hibernate brightly at temperatures around 10 °C during the cold season. In most cases, the plants no longer develop as luxuriantly in the second year and buying a new one makes more sense. Mini petunia is not winter-hardy, but with proper care it will please all summer until the first frosts.