Virginia Bluebells begin to emerge in early April, showing this beautiful dusky purple leaf. The color slowly changes to green as they lengthen.
Virginia Bluebell flowers follow this color pattern too. Buds of deeper purplish-rose open to the blue of this flowers name. Photo Credit: Alan Cressler
It is hard to imagine that by early-mid summer all evidence of this spring carpet of Virginia Bluebells will be gone. Photo Credit: Alan Cressler
The Clearwing Hummingbird Moth is a sight to behold. As you can see it is also attracted to the native beebalm later in the summer. Photo Credit: By Judy Gallagher
Virginia Bluebells Mertensia virginica
Since I’ve talked a lot about sedges and shared some of my favorites, I thought it would be appropriate to turn here to another favorite spring wildflower, Virginia Bluebells. What a wonderful sign of spring these are! These beautiful blue flower clusters bloom in early to mid-spring and last approximately three weeks.
Virginia Bluebells are a woodland wildflower and prefer a good loamy soil with organic matter, and partial shade. In the wild this species is commonly found in a range of woodland types that include floodplain and bottomland woods. When happy, it can spread to form large colonies that are spectacular in the spring. They also grow well in good garden soil.
The early flowers of this spring ephemeral are an important nectar and pollen source to the early flying queen bumblebees, moths, butterflies and possibly even hummingbirds. Other pollinators that visit this plant include mason bees, honeybees and Sphinx moths. The Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe) is a beautiful example of this family.
Growing to up to about 2’ tall, the large leaves of this spring wildflower can be up to 7 inches long and are relatively thin in texture. Colonies offer good wildlife cover in the spring. Virginia Bluebells would be a good species to add to a traditional hosta shade garden to provide an important early spring source of food and cover.
There is a home near me (some of you may know it) whose yard in early spring is a carpet of Virginia Bluebells and tulips. What a sight to behold!