Classic Virginia Bluebells in full bloom. There are many local places to enjoy these native Virginia wildflowers, including Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Bull Run Park in Centreville and the C&O National HIstorical Park in Potomac.
Photo by Donald Sweig
Where to Look for Virginia Bluebells
Try these public places for reliable stands of Bluebells. Depending on the weather, early to mid-April is the best time to find them in full bloom.
- Turkey Run Park, National Park Service,
George Washington Memorial Parkway
- Great Falls National Park, 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean,
VA 22102 (703) 285-2965
- Bull Run Regional Park, Northern Virginia Regional Park
Authority, 7700 Bull Run Dr, Centreville, VA 20121
- C&O Canal National Historic Park,
11710 MacArthur Blvd, Potomac
Look for the bluebells on the floodplain between the canal and the river or on the islands in the river.
- Riverbend Park, Fairfax County Park Authority,
8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls
Riverbend is a particularly easy place to see a stunning display of Bluebells. The park is open every day, admission is free. Try calling the park to check when the bluebells are in full bloom. Visitor center closed on Tuesdays. Spring is wildflower time. Many species of spring ephemerals grace the river banks from March to June. Take a walk between carpets of Virginia Bluebells and Spring Beauties, and look for Wild Ginger, Dutchman's Breeches and Trout Lilies.
The Virginia Bluebells are coming.
In early Spring, these native wildflowers will burst into bloom profusely throughout much of the Washington area. Botanically named Mertensia virginica, one of a number of species of Mertensia, Virginia Bluebells can be found in many moist, woodland areas, especially along streams and rivers.
Depending on the weather, they first appear in early April as light pink buds, and then open into several shades of pink, blue and even white. In some areas along the local rivers they bloom in stunning profusion, creating a veritable carpet of color.
After perhaps 10 days to two weeks, the blossoms will fade and not appear again until the following Spring. They are not difficult to find in season and most wildflower enthusiasts have a favorite Bluebell haunt.
They are easy to find along the floodplain of the Potomac River at Turkey Run Park, a National Park Service site, on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, just inside the beltway in McLean.
There are also large and popular stands of Bluebells at the Bull Run Regional Park, a Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority site.
Look for them also at Great Falls National Park in Virginia, or along the C&O Canal in Potomac. Take your binoculars; bluebells often grow on the islands in the middle of the river.
Bluebells grow best, and most profusely, in the sandy soils of the floodplain along the local rivers. A particularly stunning and easily accessible stand of Bluebells is in Fairfax County’s Riverbend Park, where one can walk the paths both up and down river from the visitor center with copious bluebells on both sides of the path. It’s a sight to behold. One might also notice other Spring wildflowers along the various trails, along the river floodplains and in the nearby woods.
The annual appearance of the Virginia Bluebells is a treat too sweet to miss. Take your camera to preserve the memory, but please don’t pick the wild bluebells; they are very fragile and will soon wither if plucked.
If you are interested in growing these flowers yourself, they like moist to wet soil in part or mostly shaded areas, according to the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia: "Best planted at the edge of a woodland path or by a shaded pond." Bluebells appear to be both deer and rabbit resistant.