When you spend time in the woods you will often notice plants at a distance and wonder what they are. It is especially intriguing when you see a ground cover or mass of plants that looks like it must have been planted by people because it is so perfect. This is usually the way you would first spot Virginia waterleaf. It is an excellent ground cover that forms a dense mat. The bright green leaves have 5 to 7 toothed lobes and leaf surfaces that appear to be marked by water. Virginia waterleaf gets its common name from those silvery watermarks. The characteristics create interest in your garden throughout the growing season.
The bell shaped flowers of Virginia waterleaf appear in late May. They are white to lavender in color. The stamens and style are longer then the petals of the flower. The filament of the stamens have fine hairs protruding out from them. This combination of physical characteristics gives the flower a lacey look. Bumble bees and other native bees find these structures easily and seem to be very happy making use of them. Watching bees work is a great source of enjoyment and a good way to help children learn about our native plants. The rhizomatous root system lays horizontal to the ground. The flower stems rise about a foot above the silvery foliage.
Virginia waterleaf grows in shade to part-shade and prefers moist soil with organic matter. Companions to Virginia water leaf include false solomon’s seal, green and gold, black cohosh, Canada anemone, Virginia anemone, barren strawberry, Christmas fern, blue wood aster and white wood aster. When selecting companions we look at what we have seen growing with Virginia waterleaf in the wild as well and what would make a pleasing garden. We also look for plants that are not likely to overpower each other.
Hydrophyllum virginianum - Virginia waterleaf
- Virginia waterleaf has an attractive silvery patches on the leaf surface
- Lovely bell shaped flowers in late spring
- Native bees are attracted to this plant
-Height: 10 to 12 inches tall
-Zone: 3 to 8