March Plant of the Month: Trillium

Here in Richmond, VA one of the first native perennials to emerge is the underused gem of a plant known as Trillium.  We choose it for this months plant because it’s a great sign that spring is right around the corner!

Commonly known as Toad Shade, TrilliTrillium cuneatum Bed 03G (2) 600x399 107KBum is a member of the lily family and is prized for its unique form.  It contains 3 leaves and a single flower that presents itself in the middle.  With some varieties the flower sits directly on the leaves while with others it is elevated above on a stem.  The leaves will either be variegated (as shown to the left) or solid green.  Flowers tend to be either red (Trillium erectum), white (Trillium grandiflorum), or yellow.


When planting Trillium it is best to choose a site that will get sun in the early spring but will be shaded in summer.  Typically this means planting it underneath deciduous trees.  Since they are slow growing and stay low to the ground it is best not to plant them intermixed with other aggressive plants.  It takes many years for Trillium to spread, white-trilliumbut if allowed to do so it can become a beautiful ground cover.  Because Trillium often dies back in the heat of the summer it is best to plant it around other non invasive shade perennials and shrubs.  This will insure that interest remains in mid to late summer.  Keep in mind, it is important to leave trillium standing even when it does die back.  If it is cut back in summer it will often not re-emerge.

So if you have a shady woodland garden we highly recommend giving trillium a try.  While not providing much in the way of nectar it is just a really cool native plant!  The moment you see it in your landscape you will know that warm weather is just around the corner!


Get Wild, Go Native!

A radical shift is taking place in the American landscape.  For decades foreign plants that were thought to be superior to our own native species have primarily been used.  Looking back, not only do we see that they are not superior, but we are also witnessing the devastating effects that many of these plants have had on our ecosystem.  Common invasive plants such as burning bush, russian olive, forsythia, and bradford pears crowd out our native species and spread rapidly by seed.  The problem with this infestation is plants that are depended upon by all facets of our ecosystem are disappearing as the dominant non natives take over.

As we begin to understand the intricate role native plants play in our ecosystem we realize how important they really are.  They provide food and shelter to countless wildlife that will go extinct without them.  They also help to clean our water and air as well as increase our soil fertility and prevent erosion.Native & Sustainable Landscaping Richmond, VA  One of the best parts about using native plants in a landscape setting is that they are very low maintenance once established.  They do not need fertilization and rarely need watering.  Also, if the correct plant is chosen for a particular spot it will need next to no pruning.  Plus, native plants are beautiful!  They have incredible seasonal interest and make stepping out into your yard a new experience every day.

With spring right around the corner we encourage everyone to join the gardening revolution and give native plants a chance.  We will help out by showcasing one native perennial a month to help our readers know which trees, perennials, and shrubs are perfect for their gardens.  And as always, feel free to contact us with any questions!

Get Wild, Go Native!

Plant by Design


Plant of the Week – Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’

Why are viburnums so underused in landscapes?  That’s a great question!  They are one of the largest and most diverse groups of shrubs yet rarely find themselves in the average homeowners yard.  Now I do admit that the sheer variety of viburnums can be a bit overwhelming.  There is literally a viburnum for every application; it’s simply a matter of sorting through them to find one that meets your needs. This week we are showcasing the Winterthur Viburnum (Viburnum nudum).  It is also commonly called “Possumhaw” Viburnum.  We love it because it’s native, has a wide variety of uses, and benefits a host of pollinators and other wildlife with its abundance of flowers and berries.

Winterthur Viburnum

The Winterthur viburnum has more of a natural look and will get about 6 feet tall and wide.  It is extremely versatile with the locations it can be planted.  While it prefers a good amount of sun it’s also one of the best viburnums for shady areas.  It also tolerates wet feet so if you have an annoying area in your yard that’s sun deficient and tends to stay wet this could be a good option to try out.

It produces an abundance of flowers from April to May and is a favorite of butterflies.  However, one of the best reasons to plant this variety is the incredible show it puts on in late Fall.  The blue berries against a backdrop of leaves that showcase multiple shades of reds and purples is truly breathtaking.

Wintherthur Viburnum Fall Color

Now despite its seasonal interest this is not the best plant to use for foundation planting unless it’s used as an accent and has plenty of room to grow without blocking windows.  (Remember, the right plant + the right location = little to no maintenance.)  This one works best as a backdrop or around the perimeter of your yard.  It’s also best planted in groups so that you can receive the most from its incredible fall show (groups of 3’s planted about 4 feet apart works great).  It will lose all its leaves in winter but its unique bark provides interest nonetheless.

If your looking for more height use Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw) instead.  It has all the same great characteristics as the Winterthur but can reach heights of 12 to 15′.

The Winterthur Viburnum should be obtainable at most credible nurseries.  If you are in the Richmond, VA area we recommend Glen Allen Nursery for all your plant needs.  They carry a wide variety of viburnums and are happy to answer any questions you might have.  Check them out at:

If you have any questions for us simply leave a comment and we will be glad to reply.  Thanks for reading!

– Megan & Brian logo

Excited For Spring!

We at Plant by Design are excited that spring is just around the corner!  We know it may be hard to imagine with next weeks frigid forecast looming over us, but warm weather is fast approaching none the less.

To better keep our customers updated with the happenings at Plant by Design, we have created this blog.  We will regularly post pictures and descriptions of jobs we are working on as well as gardening tips and interesting articles we come across.  We feel as professionals it is our duty to educate; therefore, our goal is to make this blog a valuable horticultural resource for all those living in the Richmond, VA area.

We thank all of you for making Plant by Design possible.

Sustainable Landscaping with Native Plants Richmond, VA

– Megan and Brian