Virginia Bluebells

Learn about Virginia Bluebells, on this Focus on Flowers.

A Virginia Bluebell plant.

Photo: bgblogging (Flickr)

Virginia bluebells grow well under deciduous trees, because they bloom before the trees leaf out.

Julius Morton Sterling was editor of the Nebraska City News and he was responsible for the first Arbor Day in 1872, when a million trees were planted.  He understood that the prairies needed trees to hold moisture and to serve as windbreaks.

He wrote, “other holidays repose upon the past, Arbor Day proposes for the future.”  Tree planting was also emphasized when the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22nd, 1970.

Mertensia Virginica

Those of us who have trees already established in our gardens enjoy their many benefits, including the hospitable environment they provide for wild flowers in the spring.  Virginia bluebells “Mertensia virginica” grow well under deciduous trees, because they bloom before the trees leaf out.

Since they go dormant after they bloom, woodland settings give them the light they need to bloom and shade while they are resting.  If they are given the right conditions, (fertile, moist, and neutral to slightly acid soil) they will happily self sow and form large colonies.

“Heaven on earth”

Gather the seed pods when they are brown and seal them in an envelope.  Then sow them in the fall ½” deep.  The plants resent being disturbed, so division doesn’t work as well.  Plants are available at garden centers.  These natives have pink buds that open into flowers of the purest sky blue.  When they bloom they create a patch of heaven on earth.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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  • janhider

    I have many bluebells and they self-seed and the new baby plants transplant well.
    This is the best of the woodland plants that I grow. No fuss, no care.
    Jan Floralynn Garden Club, Ohio

  • janhider

    Virginia Bluebells are my favorite, no care, no fuss, perennial in my woodland gardens.
    I let my Bluebells self-seed and when the baby Bluebells are a reasonable size, I transplant
    without loss or wilting. To assure that the transplanted Bluebell is turgid, I water these baby
    plants the day before transplanting. Jan Hider, Floralynn Garden Club, Ohio

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