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Mertensia virginica

Virginia bluebells add to wishlist

Plant types and subtypes: Perennials, Ephemerals

Light Requirements: part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: neutral, rich

Height: 1'-2'

Bloom Time: March, April, May

Bloom Color: lavender, blue

Leaf Color: green, gray-green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: clumping, colonizing, ephemeral, pond margin plant, shade garden plant, stream margin plant, woodland plant

Flowers of Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)
  • Flowers of Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)
  • Flowers of Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)
  • Flowers of Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)
  • Colony of Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)

Pricing & Availability

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Description

Mertensia virginica

Also known as:

Virginia bluebells

,

Scientific Synonyms:

Mertensia pulmonarioides

Description

Mertensia virginica is an ephemeral that welcomes spring like few other species can. It emerges after the last frosts with gray-green leaves that unfurl and grow to become oval, up to 7" long and light green. Soon thereafter, leafy stems develop and are terminated by large clusters of pink to pale blue bell-shaped flowers. By mid summer, the plants set seed and die down to live another day, and make room for late emerging plants.

Cultivation

Virginia bluebells are typical of stream margins and floodplains where the soil may be subjected to seasonal flooding but is also well-drained. It is a species that appreciates ample moisture and sunlight during its brief spring growing season, and benefits from the protection and shade of deciduous trees once it goes dormant. It adapts well to average shade garden conditions and combines well with other woodland flowering perennials and ferns. As the plants mature, they form large clumps developing from stout taproots. This species will propagate readily from seed, without being aggressive, and can form spectacular drifts if left to naturalize under ideal conditions. Zones 4-8

Propagation

Propagate by division when plant is dormant. For best results from seed, sow immediately after collecting. Otherwise, cold stratification is recommended.

Additional Notes

The Mertensia genus is named for Franz Carl Mertens (1764 - 1831) a German who specialized in the field of phycology (the study of algae). The specific epithet, virginica, is a reference to the state of Virginia where it is abundant. But I'm just guessing.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, DC, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WI, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Exploitably Vulnerable: NY
  • Threatened: MI

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Lamiales
Family Boraginaceae Borage family
Genus Mertensia bluebells
Species Mertensia virginica Virginia bluebells