Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebells
Easyliving Native Perennial Wildflowers Seeds and Potted Plants
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|Habitat||Bloom Period||Color||Height Inches||Moisture||Plant Spacing||Lifespan|
|Shade to sun||April, May||Blue, Violet||12 to 24||Average to Moist||12 Inches||Perennial|
virginica Virginia Bluebell Photo by cj
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Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebell seeds are not available at this time
Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebells potted plants are available in spring $6 each (plus Boxing/Shipping)
Mertensia virginica Bluebell plants go dormant after blooming with the tops totally disappearing until early the next spring.
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One inch long pink flower buds turn blue as they open resembling clusters of blue bells. Flowers late March to Early June. Virginia bluebells are one of the more easily grown wildflowers and succeeds in any good garden loam. It will grow in full sun but prefers shade to partial shade and will multiply over time through self-seeding.
Plant Virginia Bluebells with native Ferns and other native woodland wildflowers like Columbine Green Dragon American Spikenard Jack-in-the-pulpit Goat's Beard Wild Ginger Wild Geranium Woodland Phlox Jacob's Ladder Bloodroot Celandine Poppy Woodland Spiderwort Purple Trillium White Trillium Blue Cohosh Black Cohosh Shooting Star Ginseng Christmas Fern Dutchman's Breeches
Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebell has many different common names, including
Virginia Cowslip, Lungwort Oysterleaf, and Roanoke Bells. Virginia bluebell
plants grow 12 to 24 inches tall with clusters of blue or violet bell-shaped
flowers. They can be found in moist, rich, and loamy soils of upland forests, floodplain forests, wetlands and bluffs.
Virginia Bluebells will grow in sun but prefer slight to full shade. The oval-shaped
leaves are alternately located around a thin, smooth single stem that begins curled in shape and extends as it grows into an elegant arch
with a showy blossom cluster. Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebell
Flowers in spring from March to May.
Mertensia (mer-TEN-see-uh) = Named for Francis Karl Mertens, early 18th century German botanist and professor of Botany at Bremen
Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebell is a favorite woodland wildflower. They prefer light shade to partial sun in moist wooded areas with rich soil. The foliage dies down by mid-summer. The pastel colors of the flowers and foliage are soft and soothing. Some plants produce mature flowers that are white or pink. There are other Mertensia species. in the United States with a similar appearance, but they occur farther north or west and have smaller flowers and pubescent foliage. Mertensia Virginica should be planted nine to eighteen inches apart in acidic to mildly alkaline soils.
Each Virginia Bluebell blossom consists of five fused petals forming their tubular shape. Their buds begin with a pinkish shade that transforms into a blue-violet color as they age. Sometimes white blossoms can be found, but it is a rare occurrence. Bluebell flowers are approximately one inch long with five stamens surrounding one central pistil. The flowers can be pollinated by bumblebees, but due to their funnel shape, bumblebees must hover, making the bumblebee a rare pollinator. Butterflies are the most common pollinators, because they can easily perch on the edges and still enjoy the nectar. Each plant produces four wrinkled nuts containing seeds. The flowers die rather quickly, and the plants are usually dormant by early June.
Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebell plants require a minimum of twenty-six inches of water per season but should not exceed a total of fifty-four inches. Virginia Bluebells can handle can handle temperatures as low as -24° Fahrenheit.
Plants should be planted directly outdoors in the fall or after the last frost for optimum outdoor growth. They can also be grown within an unheated greenhouse or can be stratified for growth in an indoor environment.
Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebell plants are ephemeral, meaning that they do not bloom for long and go dormant in early summer. They should be planted near Ferns and other native wildflowers that bloom later in the year to provide your garden with color for more of the summer season.
Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebell is a native perennial plant growing 12 to 24 inches tall. The central stem is round, hairless, and light green and branching occasionally. Bluebell leaves are light green or greyish green, hairless, with a soft floppy texture and are alternate, up to 7" long and 3" across. The leaves are ovate-oval or ovate-oblong in shape, with smooth margins, and conspicuous pinnate venation. They usually taper to a winged petiole, although some of the upper leaves are sessile. Some of the upper stems terminate in nodding clusters of light blue flowers. These flowers are about ¾–1" long. The corolla of each flower is tubular, flaring outward toward the 5 shallow lobes like a trumpet. Within the corolla, are 5 white stamens with light brown anthers and a white style that is long and slender. The small greyish green calyx is divided into 5 blunt teeth. While in the bud stage, the flowers are a light purplish pink, but become light blue with maturity. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring, and lasts about 3 weeks. The ovary is divided into 4 lobes, which contain the nutlets. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant often forms colonies.
Virginia Bluebells is a fairly common plant that occurs in most counties of Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include wet to mesic woodlands, especially in semi-shaded floodplain areas along rivers, bluffs, and flower gardens.Faunal Associations: The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees primarily, including honeybees, bumblebees, Anthophorid bees, Mason bees, large Leaf-Cutting bees, and Miner bees; these insects seek nectar and collect pollen. Other visitors of the flowers include hummingbirds, bee flies, butterflies, skippers, and Sphinx moths, including hummingbird moths. This group of visitors seek nectar from the flowers. Small flower flies may also visit the flowers, however they feed on the pollen and are not effective pollinators.
Mertensia virginica, Virginia Bluebells or Virginia Cowslip, are showy native wildflowers for shade or sun. Plant in rich soil with average moisture. They are often found growing in rich wooded bottomlands and low wooded hillsides, along streams and wooded valleys from New York and Ontario, Michigan to Minnesota and Iowa, south to Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kansas.
The map below shows areas where native Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebells wildflower plants grow wild, it can be grown over most of the United States. Plant in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 to 8. Borage Family Boraginaceae
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virginica Virginia Bluebell plant distribution map
complements of USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1
(http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.