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, Trillium 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, but 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!
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. 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