Bells of Ireland usually arrive as part of a mixed bouquet, and if cared for properly, they'll last between seven and 10 days. When the leaves open, these magnificent green bells reveal a tiny white blossom in the center. A member of the mint family, they are slightly fragrant and add a vivid pop of color to any arrangement.
When your bouquet arrives, place it in a wide container filled with water and cut about an inch off the bottom of the stems. This allows them to absorb fresh water quickly. The stems are hollow, so you want to keep them submerged to avoid air from penetrating and creating bubbles in the waterway. Even when you're changing the water or trimming the stems, turn the flowers upside down, fill them with water and plug the bottom of each stem with a cotton ball or your finger until they're returned to the vase. Because they tend to yellow, remove the leaves from the lower half of the stems and keep the vase free of any loose foliage. The stems have thorns, so handle them with care, or, better yet, use gardening gloves when preparing your arrangement. Add flower food to your vase and arrange your bouquet.
Despite its name, bells of Ireland, also referred as a shell flower, is actually native to Turkey and Syria. Originally dubbed moluccella, they were first thought to have originate in Indonesia's Moluccas Islands. Bells of Ireland were also cultivated in Belgium for their subtle fragrance, which was used in perfumes. They're a beautiful addition to any bouquet, and make a wonderful gift for those embarking on a new adventure - starting a new job, having a baby or buying a house. Because of its Kelly-green hue, bells of Ireland also symbolize money and wealth. And of course, it wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without the bells of Ireland front and center in restaurant bouquets and at parties.
When your bouquet begins to droop, you can remove your bells of Ireland and hang them upside down to dry. They look beautiful as a wall hanging or as part of a wreath.