Smooth molucella, or Irish bells (Molucella laevis) - a rather rare, but very decorative and unpretentious annual plant of the Yaroslavl family (Lamiaceae). This unusual flower came to us from Syria.
Molucella is a branchy plant up to 65–70 cm high. Its shoots are almost entirely covered with whorls of rather large sessile light green bracts, very similar to bells, inside which are small, almost invisible, white flowers. In some places, between the bracts, small leaves on rather long petioles are visible.
These bells are collected in dense spike-shaped inflorescences. If you look closely at the molucella flower, then really - here is a green bell, but white bells. The plant begins to cultivate, barely reaching a height of 20 cm. Flowering is very long, lasts from early July to autumn. The whole plant has a peculiar, strong, rather pleasant smell.
The alien beauty of the molucella is guarded by thorns, completely invisible to the eyes, but any physical contact is sensitive. So admire the flower, but don't touch it.
For growing molucella, sunny or slightly shaded areas are allocated. Any well-drained soil, on which water does not stagnate, is suitable for this. Better yet, the plant will grow in loose and fertile soil. Molucella does not tolerate fresh manure, and with an excess of organic matter in the soil, it can be strongly affected by fungal diseases.
Plant care is usual - watering in dry weather, feeding with complex fertilizers once every two weeks. Only in this case, the plants grow quickly and bloom luxuriously. The stem of the crop is tough and firm, but due to the winds, the plant needs a garter.
Cutting of flowers is carried out during the period of full flowering, but before the lower cups turn yellow. Faded plants in August are removed from the flower bed and placed in compost.
Reproduction of molucella is seed, mainly by seedling. Seeds are sown in early April, covering them with sand with a layer of 0.5 cm. Seedlings will appear in 10-25 days. Both crops and seedlings should be kept at a temperature of 16-18 degrees. The lighting of the seedlings should be good, but shade from direct sunlight. Young plants are planted in the ground at a distance of 30–35 cm, and if there is a threat of frost, they are covered.
Due to the fact that molucella seeds germinate very, very unevenly even in the most favorable conditions, it is much easier to purchase ready-made seedlings in the store.
Molucella is used both for decoration of plots and for cutting. On the site, it is planted in small groups in mixborders or near the lawn, where it serves as an excellent green background for other crops. Against the background of dense greenery of other flowers, molucella at first seems to be invisible. But time passes, and nondescript plants are stretched into giant candles-ears. It grows well in the balcony drawer too.
But its main application is to cut summer bouquets as an original addition to the usual garden flowers. Molucella looks like an emerald candle, therefore, due to its unusual appearance, it is also one of the best plants for composing winter compositions. in the dried state, the flower cups retain their green color.
Harvesting molucella as a dried flower has its own characteristics - you have to wait for all the cups to open in the inflorescence and pull out the plant with its roots. In a cool, ventilated, shaded room, hang it with its roots up. The place must be dark because in the light, the plants begin to turn yellow. After drying it is necessary to remove the shriveled leaves and cut the roots."Ural gardener" No. 28-2012