Garden News Blog

Native Virginia Bluebells Blooming

What could be more lovely than a clear sunny spring day, the fresh green shoots of plants juxtaposed against a powder-blue sky? The flowers of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are as if tiny pieces of that sky came floating down to earth, giving us a fleeting glimpse of the heavens. Emerging from the earth with precocious energy, the foliage is at first tinged with deep purple margins, eventually giving way to soft arching flower stems that bear those ethereal bells of rapture. The flower buds fade quickly from pink when closed to azure blue when open. This species is robust and easy to cultivate in moist, rich woodland soils. It prefers the cooler temperatures of spring and goes yellow and dormant rapidly once the heat of summer arrives.

Uli Lorimer is curator of BBG's Native Flora Garden. He has had a lifelong interest in native plants and holds an honors degree from the University of Delaware in landscape horticulture.

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Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica ) buds and blossom. Photo by Uli Lorimer.