Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)
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Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells) is a native perennial wildflower that occurs across a large part of the eastern half of North America in moist woodlands and river floodplain environments. Mertensia virginica starts as red-purple tinted basal leaves and eventually rises to a one to two foot tall, lush blue-green clumping form. In early spring, Virginia bluebells begin producing flower buds, which are pink and eventually emerge with a pink or purplish cast before turning deep blue and slightly fragrant. Multiple shades of blues and purples add a striking effect when planted in masses, and flowers are a favorite of butterflies and bumblebees.
As a spring ephemeral wildflower, Virginia bluebells make for excellent ground cover in shadier areas up until flowers and foliage die back to the ground in mid-summer as the plant goes dormant until the following spring; this life cycle means that Mertensia virginica makes for a great companion plant in gardens with later-blooming, shade tolerant plants.