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For Your Garden - February 2013

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year. Consider adding a few native plant species to your garden soon!

bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Bluebells, also known as Virginia cowslip or mertensia, grow in moist woods and floodplain forests throughout Illinois. Flowers are present from March through June. Flowers are generally blue in color, although white flowers and rose-colored flowers are sometimes present. The flower bud is pink. Like all members of the forget-me-not family, the flowers are produced at the top of the stem, on one side of the stem. Flowers are large and tubular. They hang so that the flower opening faces the ground. The leaves are arranged alternately on the stem. Each leaf is oval and smooth. The plant grows to one to two feet in height.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Boraginaceae

Illinois Status: common, native