By Kathy Bildner
What’s blooming in my yard today? Bluebells! (Mertensia virginica)
Bluebells are a sure sign it is spring. In the wilds of Missouri, they grow in large patches in low rich woodlands. In our yards they do well underneath trees in the leaf litter. They come up, bloom, and are gone early in the spring before most of our prairie plants have started.
The flowers are pale blue, one-inch long, and bell or trumpet shaped. They hang down in loose clusters from the top of the plant. There are more leaves than flowers, leaves being a beautiful smooth gray-green color, oval shaped with rounded tips. The plant can grow up to two feet tall.
The seeds form in the flower as four nut-lets. The blue flower petals will drop off to reveal the seeds. When they are ready to harvest, the seeds will turn tan or yellow. Plants grow from seed easily. Let them fall where they are or collect them and throw them in other flower beds in your yard.
When the small young plants come up next spring, you can recognize them by the leaf color. It is the same color and texture as the parent plant. It will not bloom the first year but should the second. Remember, they wither and completely disappear after they drop seeds. Do not dig them up by mistake when you place other plants in the same area.
Everybody needs bluebells, blooming now in a yard near yours.
[Editor’s Note: At our monthly gathering yesterday, we saw some lovely patches of bluebells in Forest Park’s Deer Lake Savanna.]