How to Grow and Care Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa plants, also fondly known as “million bells,” have earned a special place in the hearts of garden enthusiasts worldwide. Resembling vibrant, miniature petunias, these plants boast distinctive bell-like flowers, adding a delightful splash of color to any garden setting. Their trailing habit and wide range of hues, from bright pink flowers to energizing orange ones, breathe life into any garden and can turn a drab landscape into a living, breathing piece of art. Originating from South America, these robust plants have adapted to an array of climates and can thrive in a variety of USDA hardiness zones, making them an incredibly versatile addition to your horticultural pursuits.

Calibrachoa Varieties

The world of calibrachoa hybrids offers gardeners an eclectic mix of varieties to choose from. Also recognized as trailing petunias or mini petunias, these plants cater to a broad spectrum of aesthetic preferences and growing conditions. Some calibrachoa hybrid varieties are celebrated for their double flowers, a captivating spectacle where each bloom houses another within, creating a riveting display of lushness and abundance.

Ideal Conditions for Growing Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa plants, fondly known as Million Bells, are vibrant, robust plants that thrive under specific conditions. These radiant beauties prefer full sun locations, receiving at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. However, showcasing their impressive adaptability, calibrachoa can also tolerate partial shade and even very light shade. Despite their ability to adjust to different light conditions, remember that these plants will always produce more flowers when exposed to too much shade than full sun.

When it comes to soil requirements, well-draining soil is a must for these plants. A soil that retains too much water can lead to root rot, a common problem seen in calibrachoa plants. A balanced blend of garden soil, compost, and either perlite or vermiculite is recommended to create an ideal soil structure that supports healthy growth and promotes adequate drainage.

Calibrachoa flourishes in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, where the climate is favorable for their growth. That said, these resilient plants can also survive and grow in a broader range of zones, provided the necessary care is provided.

Through their prolific bloomers’ remarkable flexibility to various light conditions and soil types, calibrachoa truly shines as versatile additions to any garden. With the right balance of sunlight, well-drained soil, and optimal hardiness zone, your calibrachoa can bloom with all its might, adding a burst of color and charm to your green space.

How to Plant Calibrachoa

When it comes to planting calibrachoa, careful attention to the root ball paves the way for successful growth. This involves gently teasing the roots before planting, which encourages the faster establishment of the plant in its new setting. You’ll want to choose a location that bathes your plant in at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, ensuring your calibrachoa grows robustly and yields a more abundant bloom. The ideal time to plant young calibrachoa plants is in early summer, once any risk of frost has passed, to give your young plants the best chance at thriving.

Calibrachoa in Container Gardens and Hanging Baskets

calibrachoa hanging baskets

Due to their trailing stems and habit, calibrachoa is a match made in heaven for container gardens and hanging baskets. The vibrant color and profuse blooms of calibrachoa can transform your window boxes, container gardens, and hanging baskets into enchanting displays of natural splendor. Their cascading foliage and bright orange flowers can create a striking visual appeal that’s hard to ignore, enhancing the aesthetic value of any space they occupy.

Calibrachoa Care

Caring for calibrachoa plants, while not overly complex, does require some understanding of their specific needs. With the right balance of light, water, fertilization, and appropriate pruning, you can enjoy a flourishing display of these vibrant “Million Bells” in your garden or containers.

Watering

Watering is a critical aspect of calibrachoa care. These plants prefer a consistent watering schedule that allows the soil to dry slightly between each watering. This means waiting until the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch before adding more water. However, while calibrachoa is somewhat drought-tolerant, it should never be left to dry out completely.

Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common problem that often results from waterlogged soil. Therefore, whether you’re planting your calibrachoa in the ground or in containers, ensuring well-drained soil is paramount to prevent this issue. If growing in containers or hanging baskets, make sure there are ample drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

Light

Calibrachoa are sun-loving plants that thrive under bright, direct sunlight. Ideally, they should receive at least six hours of full sun each day. This exposure to sunlight encourages prolific blooming, allowing the plants to produce more of their charming, bell-like flowers.

While they can tolerate partial shade and even very light shade, calibrachoa that doesn’t get enough light will yield fewer blooms. Thus, whether you’re growing them in garden beds, container gardens, or hanging baskets, positioning them in a spot with ample sunlight will help them reach their full blooming potential.

Humidity

Native to South America, calibrachoa is relatively tolerant of varying humidity levels. They are well-suited to typical garden conditions and can withstand the varying humidity levels that come with different seasons and climates. Despite their tolerance, it’s essential to note that maintaining well-draining soil is even more important in areas with high humidity to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

Fertilizing

Proper feeding is key to keeping your calibrachoa looking their best. These plants benefit from regular applications of a water-soluble fertilizer, which should be applied every other week during the growing season. This feeding schedule provides the nutrients necessary for continual blooming and healthy growth.

In addition to regular applications of water-soluble fertilizer, you can also use a slow-release fertilizer at the start of the season. This type of fertilizer will provide a steady supply of nutrients over several months, promoting sustained growth and blooming.

Pruning

Pruning is an essential aspect of calibrachoa care that contributes significantly to the overall health and aesthetics of the plant. Regularly removing spent flowers can encourage the plant to produce more blooms, making your calibrachoa even more vibrant and colorful. However, one of the great appeals of calibrachoa is that they’re self-cleaning, meaning deadheading is not necessary for continual blooming.

Despite this, a mid-season trim can be beneficial to keep your plants looking their best. If your calibrachoa starts to become leggy or if growth slows during hot weather, don’t hesitate to give the plant a good trim. Cutting border plants back by a third or even half can stimulate a flush of new growth and can often result in a more compact, bushier plant.

Propagation and Growing Calibrachoa from Cuttings

Calibrachoa offers the convenient option of propagation from cuttings, enabling you to multiply your collection without the need for purchasing more plants. This process is relatively simple and can be quite rewarding as you watch your new plants grow and flourish.

When considering propagation, timing is crucial. The best time for taking calibrachoa cuttings is during the active growing season. This period typically presents the most optimal conditions for rooting and growth. You would want to ensure that the cuttings get ample bright light and are kept under appropriate temperature conditions, as these are key factors that promote successful rooting and subsequent growth.

When taking cuttings from your calibrachoa plants, aim for healthy, vigorous stems. Cut a segment approximately 3-4 inches wide and long and ensure to make a clean cut to avoid damaging the plant tissue. After taking the cutting, it’s vital to keep it moist until it begins to develop roots. This is where your commitment to careful and consistent care comes in. You can keep the cuttings moist by misting them lightly with water daily or every other day, or placing them in a container with a little water until roots start to form.

Additionally, using a rooting hormone can increase your success rate. While not absolutely necessary, it can stimulate root development and lead to stronger, healthier plants. Once your cuttings have rooted, they can be transplanted into pots or the garden, where they will continue to grow into beautiful calibrachoa plants.

Troubleshooting Common Calibrachoa Problems

Despite calibrachoa’s overall resilience, growers might sometimes encounter issues such as root rot and fewer blooms due to excessive shade. While these problems can be discouraging, providing your plants with their ideal growing conditions is a surefire way to avoid these pitfalls. On the bright side, calibrachoa is deer resistant, making them a safer choice if deer are common visitors in your garden.

Companion Plants for Calibrachoa

Petunia flowers

Creating a stunning garden display often involves more than just individual plants; it’s about the synergy created when compatible plants are paired together. Calibrachoa, with its vibrant colors and abundant blooms, pair beautifully with a variety of other plants that share similar growth habits and care requirements.

One excellent partner for calibrachoa is the classic petunia. With their array of color options and similar sun and water needs, petunias can create a visually appealing contrast to the smaller blooms of calibrachoa. Trailing lobelia, another plant with similar needs, can add a softer texture to the mix while adding another layer of color and visual interest.

Geraniums also make wonderful companion plants for calibrachoa. With their rounded growth habit, they can provide a structural contrast to the trailing growth of calibrachoa, creating a dynamic visual composition. Moreover, their shared love for the sun and well-draining soil make them a natural fit.

Combining calibrachoa with these companion plants not only results in a more visually diverse display but also promotes a healthier garden environment. Each plant contributes differently to the soil and the local ecosystem, often benefiting one another by attracting beneficial insects or deterring pests.

Conclusion

Growing calibrachoa provides a rewarding gardening experience full of vibrant colors and abundant blooms. Their aesthetic appeal, particularly as border plants and in hanging baskets, makes them a joy to grow. They’ll continue to bloom continuously, providing you with a spectacular display throughout the growing season. With the right care and attention, your calibrachoa can thrive, painting your garden with a palette of colors that will be the envy of every garden lover.

FAQs

What are calibrachoa plants also known as?

Calibrachoa plants are also known as Million Bells due to their bell-like flowers.

What is the ideal location for planting calibrachoa?

Calibrachoa prefers locations that provide full sun to partial sun. They can tolerate light shade but produce more flowers in full sun.

What type of soil does calibrachoa prefer?

Calibrachoa prefers well-draining soil. A good potting mix or an equal mix of garden soil, compost, and perlite or vermiculite works well.

How often should you water and feed Calibrachoa?

Water calibrachoa when the top inch of soil is dry to touch. Feed them with a water-soluble fertilizer every other week during the growing season.