What do you think about Ladybells (Adenophora confusa)?

aachenelf z5 MplsJune 29, 2008

I was a bit hesitant about adding this to my garden some years back, but thought it might be worth the risk. I've always loved coming across these around abandoned buildings or in waste areas along alleys. They just looked like such survivors and are so pretty in a casual sort of way.

Anyway, I've really come to like it and it hasn't turned into the thug I thought it might. After about 4 years in the garden, the clump has gotten larger, but it hasn't spread wildly throughout. Nothing seems to munch it either.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This, or something confusingly similar in the campanula family, has been a thug for me 150 miles north of you. When I started yanking it out years ago, it had formed a thick border along the entire length of my lilac hedge and everywhere in the disturbed garden areas in my yard. The spike of bell shaped flowers has a certain charm, and it does seem a vestige of a garden that is no more; but it wants to take over. I have to yank them as I see them and before they flower and set seed. Last year I turned the corner on them and I seem to be winning - only one lawn & leaf bagful this season.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 5:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I've been pulling them since 1965 and haven't won the battle yet, if you leave the tiniest piece of root uuuggghhh!!!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 6:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

These were the worse mistake I ever made in plants. I've had them since 97 and have been trying to get rid of them since 2000. They spread not only by seed, but by runners. Like the others said, you leave a piece and it'll grow. I've used Roundup, but they are still popping up inside of my other clumps of flowers. I haven't let them flower since 2000. They do spread the most in sunnier areas. In shadier areas, there are very few. These are best in large fields.
Good luck with them not taking over.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 11:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Same story here. We just finished mowing down a 5x5 ft patch of them, that we have no idea how they got started there, covered w cardboard and mulch and hope that might take care of them. Keep ripping them out of a few places. Not a well behaved plant at all.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pondwelr(z5 WI)

I had no clue what this plant was, so looked it up in an old (1995) catalog from White Flower Farms. They want $6.95 per plant; 13 years ago! Yikes. It must have some value to someone. I realized that I have seen this as a wildflower or lovely weed.

It sounds perfect for one of those impossible places to garden. Surrounded by pavement and never watered.
The advice read here sure would make me keep it out of a home garden.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yup, I actually paid for it myself some years ago. It was a lovely display for a couple of years, then floppy and not effective (maybe too much shade crept in?). I finally started the round-up cycle on it last fall. Got a few more tiny spurts this spring and i hit it again with roundup. I sure hope I got it all cause I planted something else in its place.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 12:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aachenelf z5 Mpls

I wonder if this is a case where the common name (Ladybells) is used for a lot of plants with similar bell-shaped flowers like some of the wild campanula?

My Adenophora clump has gotten larger over the years, but is certainly not spreading throughout the garden. In fact, it's been very well behaved. I would think after 4 years if were going to take over, it would have at least started to do so.

Here's a pic of the plant taken today.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe what we unfortunates have is the startlingly identical evil twin campanula rapunculoides aka Rampion Bellflower or Creeping Bellflower instead of Campanula Confusa. (And I'd bet some nurseries, catalog outfits and garden centers can't tell the difference in what they're offering you, either.)

Often found along streambeds, old home sites, maybe once widely cultivated, but escaped and naturalized in all but ten states in the contiguous US.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aachenelf z5 Mpls

I was thinking the same thing and I believe that is what came along with a peony division I took from a friends garden. I've managed to keep it from spreading, but for the life of me I can't kill the thing.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I couldn't believe the vehement thoughts that people have
about adenophora! I went outside and checked on mine. We have a 210 foot long border along a white horizontal fence
along the farm drive.(2 openings to the house) It goes from full sun to heavy maple shade, back to sun and back
to shade. At the south sunny end I have a 4 x 5 foot area
of it with a daylilly behind it and a large miscanthus where your baptisia is. It brings color to this hard to
cultivate space. Then there are 4 or 5 areas scattered in the shady part of the border--they are smaller and wispier. In the heavy clay always damp soil under the sugar maples they make beautiful,almost dainty companions to hostas with chartreuse leaves or patterning and currently two clumps of red vision astilbe.

The groups form rhythmic connection down the long border. I have never had seeding in other gardens on the property.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 4:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

This is a good point, which one do I have? How does one tell the difference between the two? Some of us might be giving a perfectly good perennial a bad name. The one I have pops up all over the place, if you leave one piece of root, it's as hard to get rid of as couch grass, maybe harder. Are there any good photos anywhere that actually show the difference?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 5:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've checked Confusa against C. Rampunculoides with pictures on Dave's Garden, White Flower Farms, web entries, all the images on Google, etc. - cannot tell one from another in the photos - and have thus given up.

My rule of thumb: the bad reappears despite years of pulling; the good stays contained.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I got my a. confusa from a very reliable garden center. I will also remember to pass up c. rampunculoides. :)


    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 2:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aachenelf z5 Mpls

I found this blurb about telling the difference between the two.

About 40 species of hardy, summer-blooming plants native to Eurasia and Japan, similar to Campanula because of their nodding, blue, bell-shaped flowers. For full sun or part shade in average garden soils. Adenophora and Campanula are often confused Here is a simple test for distinguishing the two. Take a flower and gently pull off the petals, leaving the style standing in the center. You will be left holding the base of the flower with a bumpy appendage (the ovary) in the middle and the style sticking straight up out of the center. VERY CAREFULLY peel off the outside of the bumpy appendage, leaving the style standing. If underneath, all you see is a flat base to which the style is attached, then you have a campanula. If, however, you see, after the peeling, another bulb-like appendage surrounding the style, then you have an adenophora. An easy way to rogue out all those imposters!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 5:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well now I'm going to have to let one bloom. Thanks for that info!


    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 4:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I will go and try that test just for fun, but I can tell right now that I have the 'unruly one' as it is just everywhere and still spreading and trying to take over the one side of my yard.....it comes up in the crack of the patio, two feet from the garden.......love those runners!! :)I hate to but may have to resort to some kind of chemical.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 8:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know I have the unruly one also - and would be terrified to let one bloom... lest I forget it and the thousands of seeds explode all over with a light gust of wind.

Wonder if it's my soil, well amended/composted over the years, layers of leaf litter, etc. in the hedgerows - but I can easily pull this menace out with a light tug. At the mature blooming stage, the roots that come up seem to be a somewhat small fibrous cluster no longer connected to the taproot source. A little shovelling will generally bring up the fleshy taproots. I think that's been my problem until recently - plucking out the plant instead of the plant AND its source.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 9:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also have the evil twin and will try to get an id.

Mine has a very distinct feature, that if you tug on a leaf stem it easily pulls apart leaving a sort of sheath - which of course regrows - unlike most plants that break cleanly. Removing clumps with a normal weeder leaves an intact, deep, interconnected root mass, leading me to conclude that this is the vegetable kingdom's equivalent to the Bork and that it may be holding the north American continent together, somewhere way below the surface.

We're discussing these plants on the New England forum, where the same confusion reigns over which plant is which.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I've got one of them, and didn't even know it! I just noticed it growing behind my bench, where it gets almost zero sunlight! I also had some Hosta's there, so always assumed the blossoms belonged to them. Last year I moved the Hostas and put the bench over where they had been. If it hadn't been for this post, I wouldn't have recognized them as Ladybells. Now, to find out which twin I have...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 4:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hope you have the good one - the evil one definitely does not need sunlight to proliferate. I chased down a bunch of them today, in virtual darkness under a group of conifers. Blooming size is easy to deal with, but I'll have to shovel out the first year 'rosettes' (as pulling them simply slicks off the leaves as mentioned above) which will be next season's bloomers.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
atreehugger(Sunset 21)

The problem is the different species - I had Adenophora lilifolia and it is the plant from hell. It was fine for 3 or 4 years in the shade of a large shrub. When the shrub was taken out it exploded and spread. I tried to pull, cut it and sprayed with Round-up. I even sprayed it with stuff to kill brush - it just kept popping up again. Last fall I started to dig it out. Masses of thick taproots everywhere. It still resprouts from every piece of root I missed. So far I have dug over the bed three times - and still it sprouts. I have left the bed fallow, until nothing sprouts for an entire season.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:58PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
liatris bulbs
I just bought bulbs. Can I start them in a pot now...
Mason Bees)
Does anyone here encourage Mason Bees to stick around...
Im looking for rare edible perennials for zone 5
I want things that require vary little work and do...
Are Agapanthus hardy in zone 6
Does anyone have experience growing agapanthus in zone...
PSA: Please set up messaging feature in your profile!
Not sure if you guys are aware you are able to do this....
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™