Hepatica acutiloba (Sharp-leaved Hepatica)
Hepatica acutiloba

Zone: 3 to 9

Soil: Sand to loam

Light: part sun to shade

Bloom colour: white to purple

Bloom period: early to mid-spring

Height: 3 - 6 inches

Moisture: moist in spring

Attracts: Bees, syrphid flies

Notes: Sharp-leaved Hepatica is native to Eastern half of Canada and the United States. It can be found in woodlands and along the woodland edge. It flowers for a few weeks in the middle of spring and is one of the first plants to emerge. As such it is an important plant for early season bees. This plant is good for the front of a shady border where it should be planted en masse to show off its beautiful flowers and to attract pollinators. Anything less than 9 - 11 specimens will go unnoticed. I would recommend at least 20 specimens to get a noticeable block of flowers.

This plant can also be grown in rock gardens, but the soil needs to be loamy and moist to keep the leaves in good condition. Sunnier locations must be matched with more moisture. It has thick and waxy leaves that can remain in good condition for most of the year

This plant has interesting leaves and flowers that are quite large given that the plant only grows 6 inches high. Considering this, one has to wonder why Hepatica is not planted more often in suburban gardens. It is just as good as any box store bulb plant. Be careful to buy the native plant as the similar Eurasian species is also sold in nurseries.

You will notice in the picture that the new flowers open up before the leaves. This strategy allows plants to take advantage of early pollinators without too much competition. The flowers of this species, like some other woodland plants, have no need to produce nectar, but small carpenter bees and sweat bees will visit the flowers to collect pollen. If there are no pollinators, then the plant can still self-fertilise to produce some seed, which will take 2 winter seasons to germinate.

This plant is a woodland beauty and should be included in any shady garden.

The flowers are one of the first to emerge
Hepatica acutiloba has pointed  leaves
The leaves are almost evergreen lasting throughout the winter.
Blue hepatica acutiloba
The old leaf starts to wither during flowering time.
hepatica blue
The blue flowers are highly sort after.
Hepatica in bloom
Hepatica in bloom