Spring Ephemerals

While most everyone is familiar with the appearance of spring flowering bulbs there is another group of plants that can add a great deal of spring interest to your garden – spring ephemerals. Ephemerals are plants that emerge in spring and progress through their flowering and fruiting and enter dormancy by the beginning of summer. These plants take advantage of ample spring moisture and the sunlight that streams through deciduous trees (before they develop their yearly foliage). Read on for a few examples of spring ephemerals that work well in North Carolina.

Trillium sp. – Wild Trillium

Wild Trillium

A field of wild Trillium blooming in the spring.

Trilliums can be found carpeting the forest floor each spring, with white or deep pink flowers. There are many varieties of Trillium native to North Carolina, some of which are endangered and not available for sale. Learn more about the different plants within this genus and their native ranges and characteristics here.

Mertensia virginica– Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

The vibrant blue flowers of Mertensia virginica in spring.

Virginia bluebells are an ephemeral reaching 1-2′ in height with bell shaped flowers in an unusual shade of deep blue. Tolerant of wet soils, these plants make a great companion to native deciduous ferns, such as the Ostrich Fern, which emerges as these plants fade. While the Bluebells thrive in spring sunlight the Ferns will appreciate the shade that increases as over story trees begin to leaf out.

Dicentra spectabilis – Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart

Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart

The pink flowering Bleeding Heart, also available with white or red flowers.

If you are looking for an unusual flower shape in addition to great spring color, consider adding the Old Fashined Bleeding Heart – Dicentra spectabilis to your woodland garden. Available in a variety of colors, this ephemeral will also add a delicate green foliage that will persist as the flowers fade.

Interested in adding ephemerals to your spring garden? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-475-1015 or fill out our contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!