Lots to love about Calibrachoa

June 16, 2013 lawanda Newspaper Columns

The first thing I love about calibrachoa is the way its name rolls up and down:  Kal-a-bra-KO-ah.  Secondly, its gorgeous!

Calibrachoas look like mini-petunias, or petunias without their tattered petticoats.  Each plants has hundreds of inch-wide flowers giving rise to its common name, “Million Bells.”

It’s an annual plant that comes to us from South America where it grows native in southern Brazil, and across Peru and Chile, in scrub and open grassland areas.

The flowers come in so many colors and combinations of colors that there’s a place for calibrachoa in every landscape. Bloom colors are blue, bright pink, pale pink, purple, red, white, yellow, peach, orange, burgundy, coral, salmon, lavender, magenta, bronze, cream and orange.  Flowers are produced continuously from May until frost and need no deadheading.

Like petunias, calibrachoas are wonderful in containers and hanging baskets, alone or in combination with other plants.  Have you heard that every planted container needs a “thriller,” a “filler,” and a “spiller?”  Calibrachoa fits all three!

Calibrachoa can also be tucked into a rock garden or in the front of a border where it will spill over the edge.

Plants are 3-8 inches tall, and spread 12-48 inches depending on the cultivar.  The plant does best in full sun.  In partial shade it produces fewer flowers, but still looks pretty.

Calibrachos are drought-tolerant plants; too much water will lead to root rot.  Water when the top inch of soil feels dry.  Make sure the container has a drainage hole and that it isn’t sitting in water.

If plants get leggy later in summer, pinch back the long branches, fertilize, wait a couple weeks, and enjoy a new crop of blooms.

Calibrachoas don’t have many pest problems, but look them over carefully before bringing them home from the nursery to make sure you aren’t carrying insects home along with the plants.

Here is just a small sampling of the many calibrachoas available:

  • ‘Cabaret Hot Pink’ has bright pink flowers on 8-inch trailing stems.
  • ‘Can-Can Mocha’ offers creamy flowers with chocolate-purple throats.  It has a mounding habit and grows 15 inches wide and tall.
  • ‘Colorburst Chocolate’ is a compact, mounding selection that boasts burgundy blooms brushed with chocolate brown.
  • ‘Million Bells Terra Cotta’ offers orange flowers streaked with red and gold on stems trailing to 8 inches.
  • ‘Minifamous Double-Blue’ shows off fully double velvety blue flowers on a trailing plant with 10-inch long stems.
  • ‘Minifamous Sun Violet Veins’ bears soft blue flowers with violet-purple netting on vigorous plants that trail 10 inches.
  • ‘Superbells Dreamsicle’ flaunts creamy orange flowers on a plant that trails up to 4 feet.
  • ‘Superbells Yellow’ features large, clear yellow flowers and a low-trailing habit.  It trails to 4 feet.
  • ‘Superbells Peach’ offers salmon-orange blooms with a darker throat.  It trails to 30 inches.
  • ‘Superbells Trailing Lilac Mist’ bears creamy flowers with dark blue veins and has better heat and drought tolerance than other varieties.  It trails to 4 feet.




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