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Native spring ephemerals can be used in addition to bulbs

2 months ago

You may have heard we can use our gardens to help wildlife by providing some of the habitat they've lost through development and deer over browsing.


There are native spring ephemerals that I use in the same situations as I use bulbs. These are in the layer most likely to be missing in natural areas now so I feel good about using them. I think they're more often sold as plants than bulbs, but otherwise there are a lot of similarities.


I'm linking to a page that has information including some pictures. These are for Virginia but they are native here in NJ too. You'd want to see what is native in your area. If you need help with that wildflower.org can let you know, or if you're curious about these or other native plants I can give you more information.


page about spring ephemerals








Comments (4)

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Or just plant natives instead of non-native bulbs. I spent some time today, digging out Siberian Squill bulbs in my lawn. It's a good thing tulips and dafodils don't spread like Siberian Squill, or the world would be covered with them. I like the very small False Mermaid, Floerkea prosperpinacoides and Aunt Lucy, Ellisia nyctalea. So many beautiful native Viola species also. I'd love to grow the Giant/Star Chickweed, Stellaria pubera. I thought it had vollunteered in my garden, but it turned out to be a non-native chickweed Stellaria aquatica, which also is called Giant Chickweed. It grows in soil and doesn't need to grow in water. Blue Cohosh is another great woodland plant, that isn't ephemeral.


  • 2 months ago

    Thanks Jay. At this point I don't see myself adding more spring bulbs, but I was hoping to get some people who don't usually use natives to think about adding spring ephermals. It's great to see all the enthusiasm on the Natives forum for native plants. I'm hoping my post might get some people on the Landscape and Bulbs forums to consider native spring ephemerals too.


    I've been habitat gardeneibng with native plants for ages, but only started planting spring ephemerals a few years back when a friend gave me some Virginia bluebells. For some reason before that, I just thought spring ephemerals were pretty but I didn't know about their wildlife value. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that at least the ones I've tried are doing well in the garden and come back.




  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I learned about native spring ephemerals when I was a young kid. A neighbor was a retired school teacher and she had a native garden with all the local ephemerals. She would take me and other kids on nature field trips. I went with her to rescue plants that were going to be destroyed by developement. She only had a few native species, cimpared to everything that's out there. From her I learned about Virginia Bluebells, Bloodroit, Wild Sweet William, Dutchman's, Jack in the Pulpit and Shooting Star. It's good to encourage people growing bulbs to give spring blooming natives a try. People can spend their whole lives being uneducated about the importance of native plants. https://lopezuribelab.com/andrena-erigeniae/

  • 2 months ago

    Thanks Jay. It was wonderful of your neighbor to do what she did for the kids and the plants. I grew up in an urban setting and I didn't learn any of this until I was in my twenties.