Brighter bells

'Crackling Fire' sizzles
Sharon Cohoon

This new million bells (Calibrachoa) hybrid is similar to the popular 'Terra Cotta' variety in many ways: same long, steady bloom cycle ― from spring to frost ― and same upright, mounding shape. It, too, drops its spent flowers cleanly, eliminating the need to deadhead. And like all million bells, it does not attract the pesky tobacco budworms that plague petunias, its relatives. But unlike 'Terra Cotta', 'Crackling Fire' bears vivid orange flowers (rather than pastel shades), and it produces more of them.

Plant 'Crackling Fire' in containers or near the front of a flower bed. Don't crowd this vigorous hybrid: All those flowers above come from a single 4-inch plant. Treat this tender perennial as an annual. Give it fertile soil and a sunny location. Fertilize container-grown plants every two weeks, in-ground plants monthly.