Spring planting season is just around the corner!  Though many perennials won't show their colors until later in the year, a few are giving us a taste of what's to come.


We call plants like shooting star, Virginia bluebells, and celadine poppy spring ephemerals.  The word "ephemeral" indicates that these plants emerge very quickly in the spring and then die back after a short blooming period.  In their natural environment, this growth strategy allows these plants to take advantage of the sunlight available on the forest floor before the trees develop their leafy canopy later in the season.

Natural Habitats

Though you may encounter native ephemerals during your woodland rambles, resist the urge to harvest them for your plant collection!  These wild plants are fragile--once disturbed, it can take them up to 20 years to reestablish themselves.  Additionally, their short bloom time means that their window to be pollinated and produce seeds is equally short.  Taking blossoms from wild colonies can severely inhibit the plants' chances of survival.

Planting at Home

Woodland ephemerals purchased from greenhouses will do best in conditions similar to what their wild cousins enjoy: partial shade and moist soil, like a forest floor.  Consider pairing them with hellebores that share their early bloom season before the trees and shrubs leaf out.

Priscilla DiFini