Trillium ovatum in the woods at Old Goat Farm
One of the real harbingers of spring are the Trilliums. They are also one of the real show stoppers in the garden. There is nothing like coming through the woods and seeing big sweeps of them or just a couple real stand out plants.
We grow about a dozen different types here at Old Goat Farm and have about half them available in the nursery. Growing them from seed is a long process but if you do it every year they just keep coming along. I think the trick is to not miss a year.
Trillium chloropetalum alba at the Miller Garden
Trilliums were also a big collection at the Miller Garden when I was working there. They were also some of the earliest picks for ‘Great Plant Picks’. They have a half dozen on their list now. Most are very similar as far as what the requirements are to grow them. The following are some of the facts from GPP.
Plant type – perennial
Foliage type – deciduous
Plant height – 1 ft to 1.5 ft
Plant width – 1 ft to 1.5 ft
Hardiness – depends on species (zones 4 to 8)
Flower color depends on species
Sun/Light exposure – light to dappled shade
Water requirements – some water – goes summer dormant
Trilliums grow best in light shade. Ideally this is a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade or the bright shade beneath deciduous trees or very tall conifers. In too much shade they will not spread or flower as well; in hot afternoon sun their foliage burns. All trilliums require fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil. In the right conditions, some trilliums are fairly drought tolerant, but it will do better with regular additional water during summer dry spells. Gardening with trilliums teaches the rewards of patience: young plants can take three to five years to bloom and another five to eight years to develop into a nice clump. Just remember that the wait is well worthwhile with these garden gems. Do not remove old flowers but let the seeds develop, ants will disperse them around your garden to start new clumps. Trilliums are long-lived garden perennials, taking several years to form a significant clump. Trillium grows 12 to 20 inches tall and over a ten-year period, can become a nice patch, some up to 15 inches in width. Trilliums are poor competitors, so be careful not to plant aggressive plants nearby.
We have a new section in the woods we are developing and I can’t wait to include Trilliums into the plan.
Just remember they are well worth the wait. Definitely!
Trillium ovatum at the Chase Garden
Trillium grandiflorum ‘Flore Pleno’
Trillium ovatum – close-up at the Chase Garden