Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Liverleaf Hepatica
Liverleaf Hepatica

A delightful woodland plant that is one of the first to wake in early spring, hepatica has pretty, starlike flowers that debut just after the snow melts in many areas. Hepatica flower colors range from white to pale blue to pink depending on the plant. Be sure to plant hepatica near the edge of a path or border so you can enjoy its flowers and foliage up close. After the springtime flowers fade, hepatica decorates shade gardens with deep green ground-hugging foliage.

genus name
  • Hepatica transsilvanica
  • Part Sun
plant type
  • 6 to 12 inches
  • 6 to 12 inches
flower color
foliage color
season features
special features
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7

Colors of Hepatica

Create a woodland garden by pairing hepatica with other perennials that thrive in shade and moist, rich soil. Great planting companions include heuchera, bleeding heart, and lungwort. Hepatica grows only a few inches tall and wide so can get lost in the midst of more vigorous perennials. To get the best showing, plant hepatica in groups of three or more plants. Repeat hepatica groupings throughout the garden to create rhythm in your design. After hepatica's spring bloom, count on the semievergreen plant to blanket soil for a lush groundcover.

Growing Hepatica

Hepatica grows best where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade or consistent shade. It thrives in moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. At home in the nutrient-rich leaf litter of the forest floor, hepatica grows well in soil annually enriched with well-decomposed compost. Consistent moisture is also key to good growth. Hepatica thrives in soil that is moist but not wet. Plant hepatica in spring and water plants well after planting. Apply a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch to prevent weeds and moisture evaporation.

Hepatica will spread slowly by rhizomes to make a colony of ground-hugging foliage and diminutive spring flowers. Multiply hepatica by sowing seed in early summer or dividing existing plants after flowering.  Dig up the entire clump and slice it into several sections. Replant the sections and water well.

Plant Hepatica With:

Who can't help but adore violets? Their cheerful "faces," often whiskered or otherwise marked, brighten the dreariest day in spring. Use them at the front of beds or borders as edging plants, as bedding plants, in containers and window boxes, in herb gardens, in wild gardens and in rock gardens too. There is a multitude of forms, many now winter hardy in cold climates, in all sizes and colors. Cut back straggly stems and deadhead routinely to prolong blooming. They self-seed freely, but are not invasive. Violets do best in lightly shaded places in soil that remains moist.

Trillium, Trillium
  • zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • light: Part Sun, Shade
  • flower color: White, Pink
  • foliage color: Chartreuse/Gold
  • plant type: Perennial
  • height: Under 6 inches, 6 to 12 inches, 1 to 3 feet
  • season features: Spring Bloom
  • problem solvers: Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Trilliums are the royalty of woodland gardens. In spring, encountering a large, established patch in the wild is something to remember. Gardeners in temperate climates worldwide cherish trilliums, so unfortunately tens of millions have been dug from the wild. Luckily, dedicated enthusiasts have rescued millions, too. Buy from reputable dealers who specify that their plants are propagated from cultivated stock. Plant them 4 inches deep in deep, humus-rich soil that does not dry out, and apply a mulch of rotted leaves annually.

Take a walk down the primrose path and you'll never look back! Primroses are a classic cottage flower and are popular with collectors. They covet the hundreds of different primroses available, especially some of the tiny rare alpine types.Many are staples of cottage gardens and rock gardens, while others provide spring color to damp places, rain gardens, and bog gardens. Their basal rosettes of oval leaves are often puckered or are very smooth. The colorful flowers may be borne singly or rise in tiered clusters, or even spikes. Provide humus-high soil that retains moisture and some shade for best results.

Dog’s-tooth violet, Erythronium
  • zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • light: Part Sun, Shade
  • flower color: White, Pink
  • foliage color: Chartreuse/Gold
  • plant type: Bulb
  • height: Under 6 inches
  • season features: Spring Bloom
  • problem solvers: Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Dog's-tooth violets are the first sign of spring in the mountains, and domesticated varieties bring alpine glory to the garden. Their twisted, reflexed flower petals that bend over rosette leaves are a welcome discovery among last season's fallen leaves. The bulbs are native to woodlands and must be sited in well-draining soil rich in organic matter to flourish in home gardens.