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Add woodland beauty to your garden with Virginia bluebells. A spring ephemeral native to eastern North America, Virginia bluebells are perennials with blue, bell-shape flowers that open above bright green foliage in midspring. Flowering for about three weeks, Virginia bluebells, also called eastern bluebells and Virginia cowslip, bloom at the same time as most flowering bulbs. Pair Virginia bluebells with bright yellow daffodils for a classic spring color combination that is sure to kick off the gardening season with gusto.
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Planning a Garden with Virginia Bluebells
Grow Virginia bluebells alongside tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other petite spring bulbs. Bluebells' soft, herbaceous foliage is a great texture complement to the rigid and straplike foliage of many bulbs. Virginia bluebells self-seed. Expect them to pop up between clumps of spring bulbs, creating a casual cottage garden style over time.
At the beginning of summer, Virginia bluebells recede into the soil. Their foliage slowly dies back and an empty space extends where the cheerful purple blossoms once stood. Plan for bluebells' early retirement, and your garden color show will hardly miss a beat. Plant Virginia bluebells with other shade-loving perennials such as hosta, astilbe, bugbane, Solomon's seal, and ferns. These perennials are just beginning to poke out of the ground when bluebells are ringing in spring. After bluebells fade, hosta, astilbe, and other shade-lovers take over the show, unfurling bold leaves and colorful flowers.
Virginia Bluebells Care Must-Knows
Virginia bluebells grow best in part shade and moist soil. Their native habitat is moist woodland areas. When planted in moist, shaded locations, they will readily self-seed, forming a river of nodding blue flowers for three weeks or so each spring. Some gardeners find Virginia bluebells to self-seed so prolifically that they almost become invasive.
Plant 10 to 18 inches apart in fall or after the last frost in spring. Enrich the soil with well-decomposed compost prior to planting. Cover the soil around plants with a 2-inch-thick layer of shredded mulch or compost, and water plants regularly during the first year after planting.
Special note: This North American native is considered threatened in its native range. Never dig up Virginia bluebells from the wild and transplant them to your landscape. By removing plants from a native area, you are contributing to its habitat destruction. Instead, purchase transplants at a reputable garden center, or dig and divide a Virginia bluebell planting from a friend's cultivated landscape.