Virginia Blue Bells

Posted by Tammy Sons on Jan 26, 2016

Virginia Blue Bells

Also commonly known as "Virginia cowslip," Virginia bluebells are woodland perennial plants that begin blooming during their second year. Featuring clear blue flowers shaped like bells on round, grayish stems, Virginia bluebells reach up to two feet tall at mature height. Plants over three or four years old sometimes begin producing white or pink flowers rather than the classic sky blue blooms that the younger plants are famous for. As members of the Borage family, they like soils rich in organic materials and perform well in shaded locations. This plant grows best in USDA zones 4-7, though they may sometimes grow in slightly warmer zones if provided with an adequate amount of protection from the hot sun in soil that has been infused with a significant amount of organic amendments.

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This wildflower blooms profusely during April and May and makes an excellent under-planting for trees and shrubs in casual woodland gardens. Because they are dormant in the summer, other woodland plants such as hosta may be planted in the same area to provide interest for the summer months. Plants will easily self-seed, creating ongoing colonies that can last for centuries. They're a favorite perennial of homeowners seeking to develop low-maintenance cottage gardens, mainly if they have shaded areas in their yards. These also thrive in damp, swampy soils and are excellent subjects for naturalizing in wildflower meadows.

Various species of bees, hummingbirds, moths, and butterflies visit the plant when it's in flower, seeking nectar from the blooms and assuring pollination. Companion plantings include other woodland wildflowers such as wild bleeding hearts, lupine, ferns, and anemones. These are also moderately deer resistant plants, which is essential in woodland plantings because visits from deer are almost guaranteed in these types of areas.

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Virginia Bluebells are native to the forest and meadows of the delicate parts of the North American continent. Entire fields of them all blooming at once frequently greeted early pioneers on their way west during the settling of the country.

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