Calibrachoa make excellent container plants. Pictured: Superbells® Pomegrante Punch™. Photo by: Proven Winners.

Few annuals are as versatile in the garden as Calibrachoa. These popular color accents bloom continuously from planting until frost, and with a cascading habit, are ideally suited for containers, hanging baskets or raised beds. This petunia look-alike, a member of the nightshade family is a relative newcomer, first becoming available to home gardeners in the 1990s under the name Million Bells®. While they are a short-lived evergreen perennial subshrub in the scrub and open grasslands of their native Peru, Brazil, and Chile, they are commonly grown as annuals in the U.S.

Breeding breakthroughs have resulted in a wider range of colors, bigger flowers, and increased vigor. The diversity of hues and patterns makes them invaluable by themselves, or when combined with other plants. Check out the Proven Winners® line of Superbells® to discover your favorites.

On this page: The Basics | Planting | Care | Choosing the Right Calibrachoa | Pictures | Landscaping Tips | Companion Plants

CALIBRACHOA BASICS

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 12-24 inches wide, 6-12 inches tall, and trailing stems up to 30 inches long.

Exposure:

Calibrachoa bloom best with at least six hours of sun, though they can tolerate partial shade.

Bloom time:

Planting until frost.

Color and characteristics:

Plants have compact oval green leaves, which are somewhat sticky, and one-inch flowers that look similar to petunias. Blooms include solid and bicolors, stripes, patterns, and doubles. With a rainbow of colors to choose from, including coral, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, purple, burgundy, lavender, and crème, there’s something for everyone. They are prolific bloomers with flowers that are self-cleaning, requiring no deadheading.

Also known as:

Many gardeners use Million Bells® as the common name for Calibrachoa, without realizing that this is a trademarked name under which they first arrived on the U.S. market. Others call them mini-petunias or trailing petunias, which can be misleading since they aren’t truly petunias.

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS

When to plant:

Plant outside in mid-late spring after all danger of frost is past.

Where to plant:

Grow them in containers or hanging baskets, by themselves or in combination with other plants. Make sure your containers have drainage holes. They can be planted in bedding displays providing soil is well amended, with good drainage, but perform best in pots.

How to plant:

Place potting mix in a hanging basket or container. Remove purchased plants from the pots they were sold in (usually 4-inch or quart size) and gently tease the roots out if plants are pot-bound. Place 6-12 inches apart and firm soil around the base. Water well to thoroughly wet the plant and settle the soil around it.

CALIBRACHOA CARE

How To Successfully Grow Superbells

Pruning and deadheading:

Unlike most petunias, Calibrachoa are self-cleaning and require no deadheading. Pinch back tips occasionally to encourage branching, which will produce more flowers. To rejuvenate plants mid-season, cut branches to half their length and fertilize to stimulate new growth.

Soil:

For containers and hanging baskets, use a quality all-purpose potting mix that drains well. For bedding displays, soil should be well amended and drain quickly.

Amendments & fertilizer:

Calibrachoa are heavy feeders; nutrients are quickly leached from the soil by frequent watering. Fertilize regularly for prolific, continuous bloom. Use a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks as recommended, or add a slow-release granular fertilizer to the soil at planting time, replenishing according to instructions.

Watering:

Proper watering is essential. During hot weather, containers can dry out quickly, so they should be checked every few days or even daily. The frequency of watering will vary according to temperature, humidity, type of potting mix, and container size. Stick your finger two inches down into the soil; if it feels dry, then it’s time to water. Overwatering can result in disease problems.

Diseases and pests:

Overwatering can lead to root rot or an infection from one of the Phytophthora species, which can kill plants. If plants are wilted after watering, this can be a sign of root rot. Heat stress can make plants susceptible to spider mites, and aphids.

Deer resistance:

Calibrachoa do not seem particularly tasteful to deer; however, they are not classified as deer resistant.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CALIBRACHOA

With so many choices of flower colors and forms, it can be daunting to pick the best varieties for your garden. Here are a few tips:

For containers:

Choose flower colors that will complement the pot, home exterior or overall garden scheme.

For hanging baskets:

Combine varieties in opposite hues, such as purple and orange, or blue and yellow, to create visual tension and interest.

For bedding displays:

Group the same color in masses for greater impact. Select a palette of hues that will play off each other, such as red, orange and yellow, or blue, lavender and pink. The sum of the colors together will be greater than each individual hue.

CALIBRACHOA VARIETIES

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Photo: Proven Winners

Superbells® Lemon Slice® Buy now from Proven Winners
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 12-24 inches wide, 6-12 inches tall, and branches trailing up to 24 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Yellow with white stripes

The striking pinwheel pattern of the bright yellow blooms makes this a stunning container accent. Combine with yellow coleus for upright structure, and trailing bacopa for contrasting texture.

Photo: Proven Winners

Superbells® Grape Punch™ Buy now from Proven Winners
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 12-24 inches wide, 6-12 inches tall, and branches trailing up to 24 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Purple with deep burgundy throat and yellow eye

The royal color will pop when combined with complementary colors of orange or yellow. Try Grape Punch with an orange African daisy for height and contrast, and a blue verbena for a sophisticated touch.

Photo: Proven Winners

Superbells® Cherry Star Buy now from Proven Winners
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 12-24 inches wide, 6-12 inches tall, and branches trailing up to 24 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Cherry red with yellow star

For a vibrant color basket, combine with pink Superbells® and yellow nemesia.

Photo: Proven Winners

Superbells® Holy Moly!® Buy now from Proven Winners
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 12-24 inches wide, 6-12 inches tall, and branches trailing up to 30 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Yellow with cherry-pink mottling

This striking bicolor goes well with many other colors. Combine with red Superbells® and black sweet potato vine for a dusky tropical feel.

Photo: Proven Winners

Superbells® Morning Star™ Buy now from Proven Winners
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 12-24 inches wide, 6-12 inches tall, and branches trailing up to 30 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Pale pink with yellow star-shaped throat edged with burgundy.

This eye-catching tricolor goes with many other colors. Combine with a light purple dead nettle and a deep purple sweet potato vine for a sophisticated look.

Photo: Proven Winners

Superbells® Holy Smokes!® Buy now from Proven Winners
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 12-24 inches wide, 6-12 inches tall, and branches trailing up to 24 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Splashes of purple accentuated with bright yellow on a creme base.

This eye-catching variety goes well in a range of color schemes, leaving you captivated all season long. Plant with purple Persian shield and white bacopa for a winning combination.

Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Cabaret® Deep Blue
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 10-12 inches wide and 6-10 inches tall.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Blue-purple with yellow center

Though there hasn't been a true blue breakthrough in breeding, this blue-purple variety comes close. Combining well with many colors, this blue stands out when paired with trailing chartreuse sweet potato vine and neon orange begonia.

Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

MiniFamous® 'Uno Double Red'
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 10-15 inches tall and wide.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Deep red.

Use this velvety double rose-shaped flower in hot or subdued color themes. Combine with blue salvia for upright structure and yellow bidens for an eye-popping primary color scheme.

Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Cabaret® Lavender
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 10-12 inches wide and 6-10 inches tall.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Lavender with soft yellow center

Pastel hues are just what’s needed to cool off the garden during hot summer months. This lavender flower combines well with other soft colors. Plant with silver wormwood and pink fan flower (Scaevola) for a subdued look.

Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Can-Can® Orange
Calibrachoa hybrid

Zones:

Annual up to Zone 8; perennial in Zones 9-11.

Height/Spread:

Sprawling habit, with plants reaching 10-15 inches tall and wide.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Deep orange

Warm tones of orange add cheerfulness to any garden. Pair with complementary hues of purple or blue for a pop of contrast. For extra sizzle, combine with purple fountain grass, purple Superbells® and cinammon coral bells.

LANDSCAPING TIPS

One of the most versatile annuals, Calibrachoa can be incorporated into any landscape. Here’s how:

  • Place one or two tall ceramic pots near your home’s entrance and fill with colorful Superbells® as a cheerful way to greet visitors.
  • Adorn arbors and pergolas with hanging baskets brimming with your favorite colors.
  • Plant window boxes that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight with colors that complement your home’s exterior.
  • Shepherd’s hooks are a great way to add hanging baskets for instant color by a patio, deck or poolside. Hooks are easily moved around for a fresh look.
  • Place a hanging basket outside your kitchen window to enjoy a burst of color whenever you’re cooking or doing dishes. This will attract hummingbirds and butterflies up close where you can most appreciate them.

COMPANION PLANTS

Calibrachoa combine well with many other annuals. Get creative and make your own custom containers using the principle of “thriller, filler, and spiller.”

  • Combine them with taller plants such as angelonia, coleus, African daisy, purple fountain grass, zonal geranium, or Persian shield.
  • Add fillers such as coral bells, lantana, marigold, or sedges.
  • Companion trailers include sweet potato vine, fan flower (Scaevola), verbena, bidens, bacopa, or nemesia.

RELATED:
How to Create a Container Planting
Colorful Plant Combinations for Containers
Container CPR: Know the Vitals for Container Success

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