Maryland Native plants for spring: Mertensia virginica – Virginia Bluebells

Apr 4, 2024 | Blog, Native Plant Spotlight

Maryland Native Plants for Spring

Mertensia virginica – Virginia Bluebells

Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebells


Mertensia virginica, also called Virginia bluebells, is easily naturalized in moist, shady areas and works well in wildflower gardens. It is a native wildflower found in moist woodlands and river flood plains in eastern North America.  Mertensia virginica is one of about 40 species in this genus of herbaceous perennials with blue, bell-shaped flowers. This ephemeral perennial plant comes up early in the spring. The emerging foliage is deep purple but quickly turns green as the plant grows. Plants have smooth, oval, blue- to gray-green leaves with prominent veins. The smooth stems are almost succulent but nearly hollow so plants are fragile and will break readily. The erect clumps grow up to 2 feet tall and about a foot wide but die back to the ground by early summer as the plant goes dormant shortly after flowering and setting seed.

Common Name: Virginia bluebells
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Black Walnut
(Information from Missouri Botanical Garden)
Virginia Bluebells flowering

Virginia Bluebells flowering

Mertensia virginica flowers

Mertensia virginica flowers

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