Maryland and Virginia Native Plants: Spring Blooms


Spring blooming native perennials provide a profusion of blue and yellow flowers.  Many of these plants are ephemeral — emerging to bloom in spring and going into dormancy for the rest of the year.  While selecting plants that give you at least three seasons of interest makes the most sense to me, these three seem worth the effort even though they only appear in spring.  Spring is a great time to look around to see whether these are of interest and also the time when they are most available for purchase.  All like some shade and prefer moister rather than drier soils. These are great for planting beneath a large tree.

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) seem to be the most exuberant of these three. They emerge so quickly once spring arrives, the buds are purple and quickly turn to blue as the plants grow to 2′ in height and they will disappear just as quickly once finished blooming.   If you have a dappled sun or shady spot with average to moist soil, and you want cheery spring blue flowers, Virginia bluebells are a great choice.  They also self seed though new plants take several years to grow before they bloom.


Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), the native woodland poppy in the Chesapeake watershed, is another easy to grow, prolific blooming plant in spring. Cheery yellow flowers last for about a month and, in moist areas, the fern like foliage will last through much of summer. This perennial also self sows, but not crazily, which is nice if you want to fill in an area. Woodland poppy is also a good choice if you are looking for the native alternative to daffodils.

Trillium, also called wood lilies, are shade loving plants that are unusual looking. Pictured above right is the yellow flowered trillium (Trillium luteum). The white (Trillium grandiflorum) and red trilliums (Trillium sessile) are also native. Trilliums are slower growing than the first two and really are best suited to shady woodland gardens.

Got trillium?  Now is a good time to divide them, although the conventional wisdom is to divide in fall.  Margaret Roach of a Way to Garden explains in a short post.

Trillium is currently available by mail from Izel Plants and Prairie Nursery. Virginia bluebells is available from Prairie Nursery by mail. Wood poppy is available from Prairie Moon Nursery by mail.

All of these early blooming plants make pollinators and birds happy. Wishing you peaceful gardening.

We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

Subscribe for Blog Updates:

Or follow Nuts for Natives on:

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

ILLUSTRATIONS FROM: 
BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY

© 2020 NUTS FOR NATIVES        WEBSITE DESIGN BY PICKLEWIX