Mertensia virginica

Virginia Bluebells

$3.00 - $17.50

1/8 oz.

Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

3 Pack
Out of Stock
Tray of 32
Out of Stock

One of the most beautiful species of spring ephemerals are Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica).  These lovely plants are in the family Boraginaceae, which makes them relatives of other familiar species like Forget-me-not, Lungwort, and Comfrey. Bluebells enjoy rich, well-drained soils where they can form large colonies over time. Growing fast, the flower shoots quickly give way to some of the most beautiful flowers east of the Mississippi. The flowers start off pink and gradually turn over to their famous shade of light blue as they mature.

Bees, especially female Bumblebees that fly in early spring, will often be seen visiting the flowers. Only the largest bees have the ability to push their way up the tube. The real champions of bluebell pollination are butterflies and moths. It is stunning to watch them perch delicately on the rim of the flower. A colony of bluebells is truly an amazing sight to behold!  The blooms will last for many weeks in early spring (April and May) and will go dormant by mid-summer. Virginia Bluebells prefer soils typical of a woodland - rich and a little on the wet side.

*This species may be difficult and/or slow to germinate and grow to maturity. Please note the germination code. Seed of this species is kept under refrigeration (33-38 F) in our warehouse.  The days in transit to you in colder or warmer conditions won’t harm the seed, but it should be put back in refrigeration until you are ready to plant or apply pre-sowing treatment.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Summer Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots April/May August October 2 years; see root photo for approx. size
Potted 3-Packs April N/A N/A 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Trays of 32 April N/A August 2 years; 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots

Mertensia virginica - Virginia Bluebells

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

8 Questions asked on Mertensia virginica

Are Virginia Bluebells juglone tolerant? I’d like to put them close to a black walnut tree.
Yes, we have found these plants to be juglone tolerant. See our full list here: Plants to Grow Under Black Walnut Trees)
I would like to sow Virginia bluebells seeds in our woods. When would be the best time of year to do that? When would you Virginia bluebells is he available?
Hi Elizabeth, Out in nature, Bluebells will set their seed relatively early, drop them in summer, overwinter, and then germinate the following spring. I think it’s always best to mimic the natural cycle if you can. We should get our new crop of Bluebell seed back in stock this summer (you can sign up for an automatic email by clicking NOTIFY ME WHEN BACK IN STOCK on the webpage). Anytime mid-summer until early winter is the best planting window.
Will rabbits eat Virginia Bluebells?
Hi Connie, Though some sources say rabbits don't care for this plant, there are other accounts that indicate otherwise. Plants are most vulnerable to rabbits when young. It is a good idea to use a physical barrier like chicken wire, especially around young plants.
Are these plants poisonous to children or dogs?
Hi Lauren. There are mixed reports regarding the potential toxicity in Virginia Bluebells. But as with most things, anything consumed in large quantities can have adverse effects. That being said, we have had our office dogs roaming the prairies here and have had no incidents.
Hello, I did actually get one of your Virginia Bluebell seeds to germinate about a week ago. If this is slow growing would you recommend planting it this coming May or do you think I should try to keep it going in a pot and put it out in the fall? Thanks for any advice, Ann P.
Hi Ann, it is a slow growing species, but it will do best if you transplant to its final location AFTER it goes dormant this spring. If it is growing in a small cell, carefully transplant to a slighter larger pot once you see 2 true leaves. Then once it goes dormant, plant outdoors to its final garden spot. Hope that helps!
I would like to plant these in a large space I have that I want to naturalize. Can I also plant other natives or will the blue bells choke them out?
Hi Christine. Virginia Bluebells are an ephemeral species, so although they can create dense colonies in the spring, by midsummer they are dormant with very little to show for it until the following year. Any robust spring bloomer should do just fine in the same space. Add species that bloom in the summer and fall months to fill the Bluebell void.
How fast do they spread? I'm just wondering how many plants to get
Hi Erica. Virginia Bluebells will spread differently in each site; growing and weather conditions vary from year to year, and so will the rate of spread. In general, though, it will take several seasons for a plant to establish and be mature enough to self-sow and spread from the roots, so if you want an instant colony, plan to install 1 plant per square foot and transplant as needed in the future. If you are willing to wait and watch them progress, opt for the 2' plant spacing.
How many years will it take this plant to flower?
Hello Grayson, This species may be difficult or slower to reach maturity. I wouldn't expect flowering out of the first year. You may see bloom in the second year if everything is met for growing conditions. I hope this helps!


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Perennial, Ephemeral
Sun Exposure
Partial, Shade
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium
2 feet
Bloom Time
April, May
Bloom Color
Deer Resistant
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code