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A harbinger of spring, emerging foliage is deep purple but quickly turns green, and is followed by terminal clusters of pendulous, trumpet-shaped blue flowers. Virginia bluebells will rapidly colonize in moist shady areas. They are herbaceous perennials, which means that foliage dies to the ground as the plant goes dormant towards mid-summer.

Latin Name

Mertensia virginica



Also Known As


Type of Plant

Perennials Perennials


Spring Spring


Max height Max Height: 2'
Max spread Max Spread: 1.5'


  • Flower Border
  • Naturalize

  • Sunlight Exposure

    Full Shade Full Shade
    Part Shade Part Shade


    Native Range

    Eastern North America


    In 1734, plantsman John Custis of Williamsburg sent some Virginia bluebell rhizomes to his friend Peter Collinson in London.

    Other Details

    Pollinator Pollinator

    Planted at Mount Vernon

    Planted at Mount Vernon Upper Garden

  • Upper Garden

  • Hardiness Zones

    3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b 7a 7b 8a 8b USDA basemap

    Average annual extreme minimum temperature 1976-2005

    map legend 3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b 7a 7b 8a 8b

    Bartlett Tree Expert Company has been working with Mount Vernon Estate since 2011 providing expert arboricultural care and GPS mapping for the estate’s historic trees, as well as support from their research facility.   Mount Vernon is proud to partner with Bartlett Tree Experts and appreciates their sponsorship of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Plant Finder App.

    Bring Washington's Garden Home

    Purchase our historic seeds, collected from plants grown at Mount Vernon and plant them in your own garden.

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