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Zones 1-7, 14-17
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Partial, Shade
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Moderate

Mertensia ciliata

Chiming Bells, Mountain Bluebell
Boraginaceae
Perennials, Flowers

MERTENSIA

These plants resemble giant-size forget-me-nots (Myosotis) and belong to the same family. Plants emerge and flower early, then go dormant soon after going to seed (usually before midsummer). Typically smooth, gray-green or blue-green leaves. Nodding, bell-shaped flowers are carried in gradually uncoiling clusters. Buds are pink or lavender, opening to blue flowers that sometimes have a pinkish cast. Good in woodland gardens.

Provide moist, rich soil. Use summer annuals to fill void after plants die back. Clumps can be left in place indefinitely; they will slowly spread. To increase a planting, transplant volunteer seedlings or dig and divide the clump in early fall.

Mertensia ciliata

Native to damp places in the Rocky Mountains and the Blue Mountains of Oregon. Grows to 3 ft. high and 1 ft. wide, with 1/2–3/4-in. flowers. Several other species, most of them lower growing than M. ciliata, also are native to mountainous areas of the West.

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