Virginia Bluebells

PelhamGardener(z7 NY)October 13, 2003

I'd like to try Virginia Bluebells in a zone 7 garden, but am concerned about how much watering they require. I know they occur naturally along streambanks. Has anyone had success in a shady garden that is not constantly damp?

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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Since they go dormant after flowering and setting seed; one of the spring ephemerals, if they get enough moisture in the spring then they should fo fine.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2003 at 6:52PM
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PelhamGardener(z7 NY)

Thanks for the advice. I wonder if the bulbs still need moisture even after the plant goes dormant?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2003 at 9:47PM
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newjerseytea

I didn't water the area where my Virginia Bluebells are located at all during last year's drought, an area that tends to dry out even in a normal summer. They came back this year, perhaps not as vigorously as in the past, but they were back. Hopefully, next spring they will put on a great show due to this year's wet weather.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2003 at 2:54PM
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gardening_at_night

they are super easy to grow and need no suplemental watering. they can completely dry out in the dormant stage with no problems. i have some on a clay hillside, a flat dry woodland area, and a sunny area near the house. they've all been doing fine and even self-seeded prolifically here in maryland.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2003 at 4:24PM
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kayjones(Mo6b)

If you want a tough plant that will take dry areas and look just like virginia bluebells, try pulmonaria - a beautiful plant IMHO.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2003 at 8:47PM
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PelhamGardener(z7 NY)

Thanks for the suggestion. Is Pulmonaria a native flower? I don't find it in my usual sources. Please tell us more.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2003 at 4:54PM
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Elaine_NJ6

pulmonaria is not native

    Bookmark   November 19, 2003 at 2:46PM
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chloect(z5 CT)

We have found Mertensia to be...er...rather too easy! It's everywhere!! We have mesic conditions, but we do some supplemental watering.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2003 at 10:02PM
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Elaine_NJ6

Mertensia isn't native either

    Bookmark   November 29, 2003 at 4:54PM
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jgwoodard(USDA z7 TN)

Mertensia virginica is native to Eastern North America.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2003 at 3:32PM
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newjerseytea

Elaine, everything I've ever read about Mertensia says it's native. Where did you get the information that it's not?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2003 at 1:25PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

Mertensia is a native plant. Be sure to water them well the 1st year until the plants become established and they'll be just fine.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2003 at 8:35PM
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Hooti(z5 NY)

I have been planning to add some to my woods. It gets quite swampy in spring but dries up in the summer. Can they get too wet? Can I grow them from seed, and if so do they need any special treatment (like stratification, etc). I am researching all this, but sources don't always agree, so input is appreciated.

Vavsie

Here is a link that might be useful: My Garden of Eden

    Bookmark   January 2, 2004 at 10:34PM
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plantsnobin(z6 IN)

I have been growing bluebells for more than 20 years. Not ecologically correct, but I dug them from my grandparents woods, should have saved more before the bulldozers got them. I have many in full sun, no water but the rain and they have selfseeded very happily. When moving them you should be careful to dig deeply to get the root, but I have had good luck moving even when they were blooming.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 5:31PM
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Hooti(z5 NY)

I have recieved my seeds in the mail and have winter sowed them into plastic covered flats in an unheated porch. The assumption is they will germinate at the right time in the spring. What I am unsure of is how their nature to go dormant after blooming will effect their transplanting. Will they still die back the first year since they will not be flowering? When should I tranplant them - or should I mabe keep them in flats until the following spring? Usually I transplant perennials into single pots and keep them there until later in the summer, giving them a more sheltered existance until they are alittle larger. I can see me with a flat full of seemingly dead plants and unsure what to do.

Thanks,
Vavsie

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 3:58AM
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ninamarie(4Ont.)

Mertensia virginiana is native. But there are other mertensias (Mertensia pterocarpa, Mertensia siberica, etc.) which are not. Nice plants though. Not ephemeral.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 9:32AM
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dragonfly_dance(z7 SENJ)

can they be bought in bulb form?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2004 at 5:02PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Bought a bunch bare root (not bulbs) around this time last year at HD VERY CHEAP, dunno why 'cause I already had a bunch, couldn't resist liberating them. Didn't get them in until March and they came right up. Tough little buggers when dormant.

Just read through previous posts Lungwort (Pulmonaria L.) is native to NY. Other Pulmonarias are not.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2004 at 9:46AM
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paul299(z4 Minnesota)

The seds need 80+ days cold moist conditions befor germination. The first year they will grow one long leaf. The secound year one or to broardleaves that lay on the ground more or less, plants grow for about a month and half - two months then go dormant- even as small seedlings. After three yearsof growth you shouldstart to have some plants bloom.

The love moist humsy soils but will live a long time in even dry clay soils.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2004 at 11:18PM
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rowan57(Z8 UK Nr Leeds)

Watch out for Pulmonaria, because it has hairy leaves some people, (inc. me) are allergic to it, it gives an itchy rash.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2004 at 12:59PM
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jgaughran(z6 NY)

Anyone know a good source of inexpensive bare root mertensia? Can they be planted in the spring?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 9:50PM
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susan58maryland

My nieghbor has a beautiful clump of VB. It's planted on the north side of the house and that bed has a drip type hose in it. We have heavy clay soil and it was amended with top soil. They gave it no special care after planting. New folks bought the house, and I noticed marigolds planted there (VB was dormant and I guess they thought the spot was empty). I hope they didn't dig them up!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2004 at 12:24AM
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Hooti(z5 NY)

*sigh* Am I the only person on earth that can't grow VB? I sowed some from seed this spring. About eight germianted, but I lost three in the first couple weeks, and the other five stayed so tiny they were hard to take care of for long with so much else to look after. I did put the cells into the ground this fall in hopes they will come up in the spring, but they completley dried out for much of the summer.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I could do differently? I still want some as my land is wet woodland, and they are one of the few things perfect (theoretically) for it.

PAX
LAurette (Vavsie)

Here is a link that might be useful: My wet woodland

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 2:18AM
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john_mo(z5/6)

Hooti,

What you describe is pretty normal behavior for seedling Virginia bluebells: a couple small, delicate leaves that shrivel and disappear by midsummer. I'm not sure what you mean by 'putting the cells in the ground,' but if you left your seedlings where they germinated, I bet they will be back again next spring, and they may even flower!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 11:48AM
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Hooti(z5 NY)

Hi John!

Thanks for the response. The VB were sown in plastic cell packs, kept in an unheated porch for the winter and put outside in March, as by the time I thought of it, it was too late to find the ground here in Western New York. After they died back I left them in the deep shade under big Arborviae trees (had several species there,including Dodecatheon meadia: Midland Shooting Star, growing pretty much the same as the VB except many more of them, and ungerminate woodland species I was planning to second cycle) and mist-hosed them on the rare dry spells, but being above ground they got pretty dry. In the fall I dug little holes and plopped the little plugs into the ground in the pine woods and covered them lightly with pine needle leaf mold.

I wasnt going to order new VB seeds and wait to see how the ones I had made out, but now I really want to get some more and try again. But same problem - no ground here and minus 9 wind chill.

I am thinking of ordering seeds and waiting to see if an opportunity arises to find the ground in January, or if there isnt I think what I would do differently is sow them all in one larger biodegradable container, in more nutrititious compound/soil, putting it right outside, and sinking it into the ground in the woods ASAP. Then not looking at it *grin*. Little bitty plants like that make me a nervous wreck.

Does that sound like a good plan? Then I shouldnt worry if they only make a little leaf and dry up?

PAX
Laurette

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 6:21PM
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dragonfly_dance(z7 SENJ)

I have been all over the web and cannot find them in seed form. I found one with bare root for $2 and change. But they most likely won't bloom this year. I work at HD and we don't carry them in my store, Maybe they will surprise me this year, but I won't hold my breath. If anyone knows where I can get them now to wintersow, please post.

Thanks

Raven

    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 10:28AM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

Raven, they are available at Ion Exchange. Don't let the default quantity scare you off; you can order a packet for only $3.00.

V.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ion Exchange

    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 11:09AM
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dragonfly_dance(z7 SENJ)

Thanks for that link, on Ion Ex i did go there and found the seeds. you need to order a $10.00 minimum, but I don't think that will be a problem since I also saw many other nice plants to try as well.

Raven

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 7:56AM
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