Flowering Mertensia Plants In The Yard
Mertensia is a genus of mostly woodland plants known for their blue bell-shaped flowers. Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants and many others can be spotted on wildflower walks throughout the native range of this genus. It is estimated that around 40 species fall under the Mertensia genus. These members of the borage family have an herbaceous growth habit and are perennial. The leaves and simple and alternate, produced on low plants with minimal branching. Clusters of pink buds form in the spring and develop into blue, bell-shaped flowers. In the fall and winter, Mertensia species die back during the cold weather. They will return with new growth in the spring and often propagate underground with the use of rhizomes, expanding their growth each year.
Gardeners in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones three through eight can cultivate Mertensia species in their gardens. They will need full to partial shade, as these plants are adapted to woodland environments, and the soil should be rich, worked with leaf litter, and well-drained to prevent rot and other damage to the roots. Seedlings can be established in spring and if the plants like the area where they are planted, they should continue to grow. Gardeners can also obtain divisions from people with existing stocks of the plant and use them to start a patch of Mertensia.