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MERTENSIA virginica

Image of Mertensia virginica

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Boraginaceae

Botanical Name

MERTENSIA virginica

Plant Common Name

Virginia Bluebells

General Description

The ephemeral Virginia bluebells is one of those "must have" spring-blooming wildflowers in the woodland garden. A clump-forming perennial with pink flower buds that open to dainty, sky blue flowers, it hails from eastern North America.

Emerging in early spring, the upright, branching stems yield soft, oval, bright-green to slightly blue-green leaves. At the tips of the stems clusters of pink buds appear and open to tubular, flared blossoms that range in color from sky blue to blue-violet, and, rarely, white. Flowering begins by mid-spring and ends soon thereafter. The leaves and stems disappear by midsummer.

Grow Virginia bluebells in average, fertile, moist soils in dappled shade. More sun is acceptable if midday shade is provided. The clumps will slowly spread, in chorus with seedlings, creating a nice drift of plants. Use it as a springtime groundcover in a woodland or under border shrubs, keeping in mind that summer annuals or other perennials are needed to fill the void once the bluebells die away. The cultivar 'Alba' is a white-flowered Virginia bluebells.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    16"-22" / 40.6cm - 55.9cm

  • Width

    12"-18" / 30.5cm - 45.7cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Sky Blue, Blue Violet

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Groundcover, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes