Genus: Mertensia Mertensia Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner (Mertensia) mer-TEN-see-ah Boraginaceae This is a genus of perennials from wet meadows, woodlands, and coasts in Europe, Asia, North America, and Greenland. The 50 or so species are grown mostly for their dangling tubular or bell-shaped blue flowers. Some species go dormant in summer. A carpet of Virginia bluebells ( M. virginica ) is one of the most welcome sights of spring in North American woods. Grow taller Mertensia species in a border or woodland, and the smaller ones in a rock garden. Noteworthy characteristics: Pendent blue flowers. Care: Most species need light, dappled shade in moist, well-drained, woodsy soil. Some species need soils of different fertility, exposure, or drainage. Propagation: Start seeds in a cold frame in fall, or divide clumps carefully in spring as new growth begins. Be sure seedlings and transplants have some shade and moist soil. Problems: Slugs and snails may eat new growth, and powdery mildew, rust, and leaf smut commonly occur. Species, varieties and clutivars for genus Mertensia 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Virginia bluebells Mertensia pulmonarioides View the discussion thread.