Koala bells

Koala bells

Most gardeners seek plants that are attractive, require relatively little attention and bring in beneficial insects. These insects help to deter the harmful ones, whilst playing a significant role as plant pollinators. With house yards becoming smaller in size, herbs and shrubs are in demand. Koala bells (Artanema fimbriatum) is an attractive herb growing to about half a metre tall that is believed to provide food for butterflies, blue-banded native bees, hoverflies and moths. In this role they help to maintain a natural balance in the garden and so reduce the need for harmful chemicals such as insecticides.

Naturally found in wet eucalypt forests and disturbed areas from coastal north Queensland to the Brunswick River in NSW, this plant prefers to grow in semi-shaded areas in a variety of soil types but where moisture levels are maintained. Both the long, soft green leaves with their serrated margins and large, bell-shaped purple/blue flowers provide an attractive display either as a mass planting under trees or clump planted in rockeries, pots or hanging baskets. The period of copious flowering is long – from spring through to autumn. When flowering is completed, the plants can be cut back and a bushier specimen will result. If left, the plants will self-seed and so create an ongoing display.

Artanema fimbriatum
Artanema fimbriatum. Photograph by PPNN Volunteer
Artanema fimbriatum
Artanema fimbriatum. Photograph by PPNN Volunteer
Artanema fimbriatum
Artanema fimbriatum. Photograph by PPNN Volunteer