Anyone who wants a plant in their garden that provides color explosions outdoors in the otherwise dull autumn should fall back on the magnificent bell, Enkianthus campanulatus. With this delicately flowering garden plant, the name says it all in the truest sense of the word. The attractive little tree with its yellowish-red clusters of flowers, which look like lilies of the valley, enchants the eye of the beholder with its large umbels and a fiery red autumn colour.

Main features

Enkianthus campanulatus is native to East Asia and belongs to the heather family. More than 10 species of these profusely flowering, deciduous shrubs can be found along the Himalayas all the way to Japan and China. The light yellow bell-shaped flowers, which grow in umbels and have a diameter of 1 cm, are a distinctive feature. The leaves are oval, toothed and shiny, are 3 to 7 centimeters long, arranged in whorls and are striking in autumn with a yellow-orange to fiery red colour. The twigs and bark are of a smooth, fine texture with a light brown colouring. The deciduous, deciduous shrub also has the following growth characteristics:

  • Tight, upright growth behavior when young,
  • loose growth in old age,
  • growth width: 150 to 250 cm,
  • growth rate: 5 to 15 cm per year,
  • growth height: 200 to 300 centimeters,
  • only reaches full height after about 20 to 30 years,
  • The main branches have tiered side branches.

Ideal site and soil conditions

The magnificent bell makes some demands on its location and should therefore be placed outdoors with care. It loves the brightness and does well in spring and autumn even in full sun. On hot summer days, a semi-shady to shady location is preferred. However, every location should be one thing: sheltered from the wind. To thrive, the garden beauty needs nutrient-rich, humus-rich, loose soil, which can also be slightly acidic. However, it does not tolerate calcareous soils at all. If you cannot provide the magnificent bells with ideal conditions in your garden at home, you have the option of growing the deciduous and frost-hardy plant as a pot or tub plant.

planting time

Since the magnificent bell needs an average of 4 years before it flowers for the first time, it is advisable to use perennial shrubs from specialist shops when planting. These already have an optimal size of 20 to 25 centimeters when they are bought and are considered to be extremely resistant. It is important to take a look at the root ball in advance. In any case, it should be well moistened. This is the only way to ensure that the glorious bell has been kept under ideal conditions and that it will take root and grow well in its new location. If the root ball appears to have dried out, for example due to long transport times, you can place the sapling in a bucket of lukewarm water. Here it can regain sufficient moisture.

Once the ideal outdoor location has been found, you should dig a very generous planting hole and loosen the soil well. The plant is optimally in the ground when the top of the root ball is just below the surface. Now the planting hole is filled with soil again and this is pressed firmly but carefully. Even if the magnificent bell is considered to be very robust, as a typical flat-rooted plant it reacts very sensitively to external influences, especially in the area of ​​the root ball. Once the shrub has been planted, it should be watered immediately.

watering and fertilizing

The Enkianthus campanulatus should be kept sufficiently moist, but must not stand in the wet. Waterlogging can lead to the risk of rotting in the sensitive root area and, in the worst case, cause the plant to die. Here, too, the thumb test is a good guide. If you find that the top layer of soil has dried, you can pour more water with confidence. Already grown, older glorious bell specimens can handle a little drought very well.

Anyone who houses rhododendrons in their garden can adopt the rituals of fertilization 1:1 for the magnificent bell, because the care requirements of both plants are comparable. Fertilization should be done in May using rhododendron fertilizer . In the following month of June, you can fertilize again.


Actually, the glorious bell does not need a specific pruning. However, since it can grow somewhat excessively in height and width, pruning or thinning out can definitely be done to shape the outside. This step should be considered immediately after flowering. During the dormant period in winter, all excess shoots should then be removed.


The magnificent bell not only embellishes the garden area in a special way. It can also be used purely as a pot or container plant and as an absolute eye-catcher it can be skilfully staged on the balcony or terrace. Even if the plant grows relatively slowly, repotting will be necessary after some time. This procedure should be done about every 2 years and very carefully with regard to the sensitive roots. Lime-free soil is used for this purpose.

winter protection

When winter arrives and with it the temperatures drop to below zero, then potted plants should be given a dark but daylight-permeable place at 0 to 5 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, care must be taken that the root ball does not dry out completely during the recovery phase. Glorious bells that overwinter outdoors defy the icy temperatures because they are considered to be extremely hardy. However, if the temperatures drop to extreme minus ranges, they also need suitable winter protection. Covering the plant with a jute sack is ideal. Piling up earth and leaves around the entire trunk area also protects against frost and at the same time has the great side effect that the leaves provide enough nutrients to the magnificent bell as they rot.

pests or diseases

Glorious bells are considered to be robust and resilient and hardly know any external enemies. From time to time it can happen that the leaf veins appear darker and the leaves appear lighter than the leaf surface. This condition is often due to iron deficiency or chlorosis. Both symptoms occur when watering too often or when using hard water. A reduction in the watering process and watering with low-calcium mineral water or some watering treatments with a plant tonic can help here.

Propagation by seeds

If you have gardening skills and experience, you can also grow your own plants. One way of propagation is by seed. Suitable seeds for this are available in specialist garden shops.

The seeds are mixed with fine, dry sand and then placed in potting soil. The process of sowing can be done all year round, but you should prefer spring or late winter. It should be noted that the seeds of the glorious bells germinate in the light and are therefore only scattered on the surface of the earth and gently pressed. Watering the seeds should be more of a wetting process and is best done with an atomizer. At ideal temperatures of 19 to 21 degrees Celsius, constant soil moisture and accommodation in a bright location, germination can take place after just 2 to 4 weeks. The further cultivation is carried out in the 1st and 2nd year at 0 to 5 degrees in the cold house. Only after this period are older specimens allowed to take their place outdoors. At the earliest after the 4th

Propagation by cuttings

Another type of propagation, which is not always successful, is vegetative cuttings. It cuts half-woody cuttings in a size of 15 centimeters. Then you put them either in so-called pricking soil or similar to sowing seeds in a soil-sand mixture. Now the plant pots with the cuttings need a bright, warm location. You should keep them constantly moisturized during the rooting phase.

Propagation by sinkers or offshoots

The most natural and therefore most promising method of propagation is through lowering or offshoots. A shoot of the mother plant is covered with soil for the purpose of root formation, but remains connected to the mother plant. If a small, sloping cut is now made on the underside of the existing shoot, new roots can form within a very short time. Only when the shoot has formed enough roots is it separated from the mother plant that is no longer needed. The ideal period for this gardening activity is autumn to spring.

If this type of propagation is not fast enough for you, you can also use options that accelerate the rooting process. Among other things, the shoot can be turned, notched or curled before lowering or laying down. This process serves to interrupt the supply of carbohydrates and growth substances and ultimately has a positive effect on root formation. Special rooting hormones, which are applied to the base, can also stimulate the formation of the roots. A lack of light, in turn, causes the cell walls to become thinner, which benefits rooting.

Every garden owner will be delighted with the decorative magnificent bell, Enkianthus campanulatus, with its wonderful coloring of the flowers and the blazing autumn colors of the leaves. Especially in so-called themed gardens, this tree brings a kind of Asian flair that captivates you and that you as a viewer can hardly resist. The delicate flower bells can be admired from May to mid-June. The ornamental shrub is by no means a mimosa, it is considered to be extremely hardy and can survive some periods of drought unscathed even at an advanced age. The magnificent bell not only cuts a fine figure outdoors, but is also suitable as a decorative element on the balcony, terrace or conservatory.

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