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Trillium, also called wood lily or wake-robin, is admired for its 3½-inch-diameter three-petal flowers. Its leaves and sepals also come in groups of three. The large white flowers develop a pink tint as they age, then give way to capsules that look like berries. In the wild, this springtime bloomer thrives in moist, humus-rich soil and can be found in the thickets of Quebec and Ontario, the woodlands of Alabama and Georgia, and in between.
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Trillium in the Landscape
Trillium is particular about how it's grown, but when planted successfully and left undisturbed it will spread gradually. Plant this graceful perennial in a shady spot where you can enjoy its spring blossoms. This plant will spread very slowly to form a colony or clump, so make sure it has room to expand. Virginia bluebells, ferns, and yellow violets make excellent woodland planting companions.
Trillium is threatened in its native habitat due to the overly enthusiastic harvesting of wild plants. So buy only from reputable dealers (local or online) that specify their plants are propagated from cultivated stock.
Trillium Care Must-Knows
Trillium grows best in part shade or full shade. It likes moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil, a condition that when met encourages the plant to gradually multiply and spread. (It does not like to be transplanted.) In spring, plant specimens about 4 inches deep, then water regularly during the first year after planting. Each fall, spread a mulch of rotted leaves over the plant's root zone.
This woodland gem sometimes requires 5 or more years in the same growing site before blooming, a worthwhile wait. It often dies down to the ground by late summer, even earlier in areas with dry soil. Pair trillium with ferns, hostas, astilbes, and other perennials that will cover the bare space left in your garden when the plant goes dormant.