Bluebells are British flowering plants with attractive blue, bell-shaped flowers. There are two different types of bluebells. They are genetically unrelated and need radically different growing conditions. The flowers are superficially similar. The two types are Scottish bluebells and English bluebells.
Scottish bluebells are also called Scottish harebells or just harebells. They are campanulas and flower in late summer. See Campanula rotundifolia. They grow wild throughout Britain but are called bluebells in Scotland. Campanula rotundifolia grows best in full sun. They are hardy and easy to grow preferring a chalky or alkaline soil that is well drained. They may spread too vigorously.
English bluebells are bulbous plants of the hyacinth family (Hyacinthoides non-scripta). See Common Bluebell. English bluebells grow wild in woodlands and flower around May. British bluebell woods in flower are seen as beautiful and uniquely English or British. English bluebells grow only in shade.
Spanish bluebells and hybrids
The Spanish bluebell, (Hyacinthoides hispanica) can grow in the sun. It hybridized freely with English native bluebells. Growing bluebells is easy. A gardener simply plants the bulbs in a shady spot, preferably damp shade, lets them grow and enjoys the flowers. Bluebells seed freely. Self seeded bluebells flower in their third year. Spanish bluebells and hybrid bluebells can seed into sunny borders and flower there.