Virtues: We love great white trillium, or wood lily (Trillium grandiflorum), for its large white flowers that announce spring in the woodland garden. This native plant of eastern North America is a must for the shade.
Common name: great white trillium, wood lily, wake robin
Botanical name: Trillium grandiflorum
Flowers: White flowers nearly four inches wide appear in early to middle spring. Their three white petals fade to pale pink as they age. Berrylike seed capsules develop from the flowers.
Foliage: Three green oval leaves appear at the top of a stem that rises 10 to 18 inches in early spring.
Habit: Herbaceous perennial that grows from an underground rhizome and generally goes dormant by late summer, with the foliage dying back to the ground until the next spring. This trillium grows up to 18 inches tall, with individual plants about a foot wide, though these can spread to make a good-size drift.
Season: Spring for flowers and foliage.
Origin: Eastern portions of North America, particularly damp woods and streambanks.
How to grow white trillium: Trillium thrives in moist shade. It will take either partial or full shade. The soil should be rich and although the plant requires consistent moisture it also needs good drainage. White trillium will slowly spread to form a colony by underground stems. USDA Zones 4–8.
Image: “White Trillium” by IvanTortuga – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.