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Mertensia virginica (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)
Mertensia virginica (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)

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Zones 1-9, 14-21
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Partial, Shade
Regular Water

Mertensia virginica

Virginia Bluebells
Perennials, Flowers


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 virginica

From the eastern U.S. This is the most widely planted species. Grows to 1–2 ft. high and 1 1/2 ft. wide, with 1-in. flowers.

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