Calibrachoa is a lovely and petite annual that adds a burst of color to containers and garden beds. You can enjoy their blooms from early spring until late fall as these hardy little beauties can handle a touch of frost. They resemble a miniature version of some trailing types of petunias with their tender, bell-shaped petals and their brilliant colors. Unlike the petunia though, calibrachoa won’t wilt in the heat. This sun loving annual blooms and blossoms best the more sun it gets.
Calibrachoa, also known as million bells and trailing petunia, is a recent arrival in the U.S. from South America. It grows as an evergreen perennial in its native environment. In United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 9-11, you just might be able to enjoy these flowers every year.
How to Grow and Care for Calibrachoa
Calibrachoa produces very few seeds if any, so they are propagated through tip cuttings. However, since many of the calibrachoa cultivars are patented, you should plan on purchasing your calibrachoa plant just to be safe. Once your plant is home, wait until after the first frost to plant it outdoors. Even though it is a frost tolerant plant, your calibrachoa will appreciate protection from the cold.
Calibrachoa loves well draining, organically rich soil. So, take time to infuse some peat moss or compost into your regular soil before planting your calibrachoa in a bed. If you are preparing containers for calibrachoa, mix a good potting soil with some nice organic soil.
For the most bloom for your buck, plant your calibrachoa in plenty of sun with only a minimal amount of shade. And water this plant regularly. It requires an average amount of water, so check on your plant daily to keep up with how it’s doing. Pay special attention to your container plants since containers dry out quickly in the sun.
Since your calibrachoa is a heavy bloomer, it is also a heavy feeder. After providing your plant with good organic soil to begin with, you should also fertilize your calibrachoa weekly with a controlled release fertilizer for flowers.
Calibrachoa has a reputation for attracting hummingbirds, which is an extra little bonus!
Calibrachoa Pests and Problems
Calibrachoa is generally a healthy plant. However, too much moisture and shade will make it susceptible to root rot, crown rot, and collar rot. Water this plant early in the day and provide plenty of sunshine to keep the thick foliage and the flowers dry – especially in humid areas. If one of your calibrachoa plants succumbs to rot, remove it, and try again next year.
Also, calibrachoa may attract a few pesky bugs like thrips, aphids, and whiteflies. These pests can be treated with sprays made from hot peppers or garlic. Or, just live with the bugs. They rarely do any serious damage to the plant.
Calibrachoa Varieties To Consider
There are only a couple dozen different calibrachoa varieties to choose from. In spite of this small number, there is a wide array of vibrant colors.
Here are a few outstanding cultivars:
‘Mini Famous Double Blue’ is a newer variety. The deep blue flowers of this calibrachoa boast a double layer of petals. And if the bounteous flowers themselves aren’t inspiring enough, this petite plant mounds over with soft looking foliage that provides a beautiful contrast.
‘Superbells Spicy’ is another bounteous beauty. This variety will spill over the sides of a container in warm shades of a desert sunset.
‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ looks as sweet as candy! This bright flower has striped petals of pure white and juicy, lemony yellow. This variety flowers so profusely, it literally appears to more flower than foliage.
Want to learn more about growing Calibrachoa?
Check out these helpful resources:
Toubleshooting Calibrachoa from University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension
Calibrachoa from Missouri Botanical Garden
Creative Commons Flickr photo courtesy of Gertrude K
I had the lemon slice this year that grew and flowered after several light frost in zone 7.
My calibrachoa die out unecpectedly wat is the reason
They need very good drainage. If you grew them in the ground instead of in a pot or raised bed, probably they died from the drainage issue. I never try to grow them in the ground any more. but they’re great in pots! Our soil is clayey, not sandy. I believe they come from an area where the ground is sandy.
Also, you often see pictures of them growing in very crowded conditions in a pot, maybe 3-4 plants in one small pot. That doesn’t work for all summer for me. I think the plants need some air movement, which crowding prevents. And maybe I didn’t know to keep fertilizing them.
I live in North Texas, what type of fertilizer would you recommend and how often?