Wildflower Wednesday: Virginia Bluebells

As we all have spring on our minds, I’d like to write about a lovely spring wildflower, Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). The flower buds of Virginia Bluebells tend to start out pink, and the flowers are tinged with pink before they turn blue.

Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells are native throughout much of eastern and midwestern North America. It likes fertile, moist soil in deciduous woodlands. In the right spot, they are an easy care perennial. It is hardy from zone 8 all the way up to zone 3.

This spring ephemeral blooms usually in April here in Chicago. The foliage is oval, smooth, and blue-green, but becomes unsightly as it dies back. Virginia Bluebells are best planted with ferns or other companions that can obscure the dying foliage. Bleeding Heart  (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) (that’s right, Lamprocapnos, not Dicentra, the taxonomists strike again) is another classic companion for Virginia Bluebells.

Virginia Bluebells will expand to form substantial clumps, but will also self-sow energetically, so that you will always have little seedlings to give away or move. I tend to let it grow where it sprouts if at all possible.

Thanks to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

38 Comments on “Wildflower Wednesday: Virginia Bluebells

  1. Virginia Bluebells are such a sweet spring ephemeral! I had no idea that Dicentra had a name change – REALLY? Lamprocapnos spectabilis? Does that mean put a hat on that spectacular lamp post? Put a lampshade on your head and make a spectacle of yourself? Some sort of overhead spectacular show like a rainbow or the aurora borealis?

  2. I love the color and the shape of the leaves! And I like that they self-sow….don’t have any but I have some lovely ferns that need some color next to them!

  3. Very interesting post – thanks for highlighting them, as I’ve already got these on my list for this year, but have never seen them in neighbouring gardens, so it will be interesting to see if they settle in. The flowers remind me of Pulmonaria, which does very well in my garden. (Oh, and for me Bleeding Hearts will always be Dicentras I’m afraid – can’t remember the new name how ever hard I try!)

  4. I have always read, and you also suggest in your post, that Virginia Blue Bells can “self-sow energetically”. I have one small clump and it has never re-seeded itself- ever. I wish it would because I am a huge fan of these blue flowers. I wonder if the mulch I lay deters seedlings? I would definitely like to add more bluebells.

  5. Virginia Bluebells is very beautiful.
    It has wonderful flowers and great big, green leaves.
    She will delight everyone.
    I send greetings.
    Lucia

  6. Love this plant and am hoping I will get enough shade either this year or next to be able to plant them. They not only survived but thrived under black walnut trees I had at my previous house. And I totally agree that Bleeding Heart will always be bleeding heart.

  7. In my former west coast garden I tried growing these several times with no results. Looking at your photo I’m thinking, maybe just try once more… I can’t resist pretty blue flowers.

  8. No more dicentra?! :/ Thanks for the tip about the unsightly dieback. I have ordered Virginia bluebells, and bleeding hearts, too, so now i know to plant them together. I hope they like it here, they look lovely.

  9. Jason, I thought name of Dicentra is correct. It’s strange!
    I love Blue bells, their shape and color. Many of wild flowers are self seeding, a cornflower, for example.
    Happy weekend!

  10. Ah, I love bluebells when they spread out. I’ve seen stream valleys covered with them. So pretty!

  11. Bluebells are absolutely gorgeous. There’s something really amazing about finding a ton of bluebells growing in the woods. The Lake District, where I’m from, has a lot of bluebell woods. We have a lovely native variety here but also an invasive Spanish variety. They still look lovely but it is a joy to see the British ones. So nice to hear you like bluebells too : )

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