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For Your Garden - February 2013

Listen to the podcast of this information.
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)
Photo © 2013, Adele Hodde, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
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.

Native Plant Information

For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, view the following publications at our publications page. You can access more information on the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant page, too.
  • Prairie Establishment and Landscaping
  • Landscaping for Wildlife
  • Butterfly Gardens