Scientific: Phacelia campanularia
Common: California bluebell, Arizona bluebell, desert bluebells, desert bells
Family: Hydrophyllaceae
Origin: Upland areas of the Mojave (Joshua tree country) and Sonoran Deserts of California.

Pronounciation: Fa-CEL-ee-a cam-pan-u-LAR-ee-a

Hardiness zones
USDA 9-10

Landscape Use: Wildflower gardens, rock gardens, winter color accent.

Form & Character: Upright and spreading, tender, calm yet mysterious.

Growth Habit: Cool season annual, 8 to 24 inches tall.

Foliage/Texture: Ellipsoid leaves with serrate margins, sometimes tinged purple with silver streaking; medium texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers are deep blue with fused petals, bell shaped, fruit inconspicuous, seed small black.

Seasonal Color: Late winter to spring flowering accent. Flowers last about 4 weeks usually around the month of March.

Temperature: Best from 32o to 80oF.

Light: Full sun in winter

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Treat desert bluebells as a winter native wildflower and irrigate only if winter rains fail.

Pruning: None. Allow plants to completely set seed and die before removal. Upon removal, treat roughly to distribute seed.

Propagation: Sow seed, 3 lbs per acre, in fall at 1/16 inch depth. Optimum soil temperature for germination is between 60 and 70oF, usually in late November to December in Phoenix. If plants are allowed to senesce and seed to disperse in late spring, then plants will re-emerge the next late fall and winter when soils are made moist.

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Desert bluebells is a wonderful blue flowering accent plant that complements all the warm-colored wildflowers for winter wildflower gardens in the Desert Southwest. Culture of California desert bluebells in landscapes is the same as E. californica (california poppy).

Special note: Desert blue bells can produce a vesicular dermatitis resembling poison ivy or oak, especially amongst people that are sensitive to poison ivy or oak. Walking amongst these beautiful desert annuals plants and/or handling the plants when they are flowering or fruiting produces a dermatitis of the lower limbs and on the hands. How do I know? I am one of those "sensitive" ones who has broken out with the "itch".....and believe me it is intense and lasts for about a week. The key is in knowing that the dermal irritant (toxin) resides in their viscid glandular hairs which are most numerous on the flower and fruiting stalks.