The first time I saw Virginia Bluebells I thought there was no way that a plant this beautiful could be a wildflower. It stands about a 18″ high, has spring green roundish 3″ leaves, but the best part is the flowers. True to its name it has clusters of little blue bells. However, over time the flowers change colors so you will see blue, purple, and pink all on the same individual plant.
Virginia Bluebells, also known as Mertensia virginica are a spring ephemeral. That means the plant grows in the spring but doesn’t last through the summer. The foliage will die back by midsummer and the plant will go dormant. This strategy is common in spring plants and serves to protect them from the harsh dry conditions of late summer on the forest floor.
It’s a real treat to find large expanses of this plant in moist, rich woodlands. It’s a common cultivated plant, especially in cottage gardens. I love coming across an expanse of bluebells. It’s like magic.