It’s a new month, and a new year. That means that it’s time to look to another beautiful plant for our Species of the Month! This January we’ll be focusing on the beautifully blue Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Physical Traits

This pretty little plant can get to be up to 0.6 metres (2 feet) tall and can spread out to about 0.45 metres (1.5 feet) wide. Mertensia virginica may not take up a terrifically large amount of space in your garden, but it’s just the thing to add a splash of light blue colour to your garden. Because of its low stature, it can often be found covering the woodland floor with a stunning blue flower shortly into the first weeks of spring. Like most spring ephemerals, the plant will show for about a month before it begins to die back to the ground. Because of its showy nature, and early bloom time, many native plant enthusiasts turn to Virginia Bluebells as an entry level wildflower to get people excited about native plants.

The Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) is fairly easy-going (or ‘easy-growing’ as the case may be) as it thrives in partial or full shade, which is perfect for the less sunny months of the year. This species requires a medium amount of water and, when fully developed, will bloom into a beautiful shade of baby blue, just like its name implies. Mertensia virginca tolerates rabbits and black walnut.

Culture

As mentioned above, Virginia Bluebells are easily grown in light to full shade in moist areas with rich, loamy soils. It develops quite quickly during spring after the danger of hard frost has passed. Its foliage will die down by mid-summer

Garden Uses

Best assembled and left undisturbed in moist, shady woodland, wildflower or native plant gardens.

image of: virginia bluebells (mertensia virginica)It is important not to disturb the plant, as once it’s established, you run the risk of losing a season of flowering, or even killing the plant. Once the flower is in bloom though, it’s unique, light blue colour is sure to brighten up your garden. This plant combines well with False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum), Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), or Large-Leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla).

It may be cold outside right now, but the Virginia Bluebells are just the plant to remind us that brighter days are ahead. Since this beautiful plant starts to bloom in early spring (early to mid April), it’s a natural indicator that the weather is about to warm up, and before long gardening season will be in full swing.

Mertensia virginica are a favourite of bees, as well as several other types of pollinators, such as: butterflies, and hummingbirds. So, you can feel good about giving some wildlife a place to eat after a long, chilly winter.

For more on the Virginia Bluebells and other species that we grow here at St. Williams, be sure to visit stwilliamsnursery.com. We’ve got more on Mertensia virginica coming out this month too, so make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss out on a thing!

Species Profile: Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)