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Genus Mertensia

Mertensia Mertensia virginica Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner
mer-TEN-see-ah
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 cultivars for genus Mertensia

Mertensia pulmonarioides Mertensia pulmonarioides
(Virginia bluebells, Virginia cowslip)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This clump-forming perennial has light blue to purplish blue pendulous flowers that open from pink buds atop 16- to 24-inch stems in mid- to late spring. Elliptic to ovate, hairless, bluish green leaves yellow and die back once the flowers fade after about 10 days.