Virginia is home to some amazing wildflower species. Many of them are perfectly suited to home gardens or for use in naturalizing woods, fields and lots. Finding beautiful flower species is not difficult as all it takes is walking through the woods or a field at the right time of the year to see outstanding blossoms and foliage.
Appearing in spring, mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) can cover large patches of ground under favorable conditions. The blossoms are creamy-white and held like small umbrellas under the leaves. In fact, the entire plant resembles an umbrella. They are called mayapple because of the apple-like fruits produced on the underside of the plants. Mayapples can be found in shaded, well-drained locations that have plenty of organic matter. Deer, rodents, insects and other wild animals eat the ripened fruits. Roots, leaves and unripe fruits are toxic. It is advised only those knowledgeable in wild edibles eat this fruit because its active, toxic compound, podophyllin, can kill.
Wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia) is a Virginia native perennial reaching heights of up to 8 inches (perhaps slightly taller under optimal conditions). The blossoms have five petals and are white and at times with a purple flush. The flowers appear in summer and resemble buttercups in size and shape. The plant's toothed leaves have three to five lobes at times tinged with purple. They can be found in moist, well-drained, organic rich soils in shady wooded locals. This plant is an ideal choice for naturalizing wooded areas.
Striped Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata) grows to 10 inches in height and has a spreading growth habit. Its leaves are toothed and lanceolate. The foliage is evergreen, dark green in color with a white stripe through the center. The waxy-white to pinkish blossoms appear in June through August, hanging down in a nodding fashion. The seed heads will remain on the plant throughout the winter. Wintergreen prefers well-drained soils. This plant is useful as a slow spreading evergreen ground cover. The plant has fall/winter interest as the leaves can take on a purple tinge.
Growing to the height of 6 inches, the common bluet (Houstonia caerulea) is suitable as a delicate ground cover (will not tolerate foot-traffic). It prefers moist, organic, rich soils and partial shade. It will grow in full sun and shade. In particularly hot and dry climates, some sun protection may be needed. This plant does exceedingly well growing in mossy soils at the banks of creeks and other water features. Its blossoms are light blue, white to purplish with a yellow center and have four petals. The bloom stalks are thin and threadlike, with each one producing a single blossom. The plant can be grown successfully in containers as long as the soil does not dry out completely.