A native woodland plant, merrybells emerges early in the spring with upright spears of gray-green stems that then leaf out and reveal nodding yellow bell-shaped flowers. In warm-summer areas, the plants may go dormant in summer.
- Common name: Merrybells
- Botanical name: Uvularia spp.
- Zones: 3 to 7
- Size: To 3 feet tall, depending on species
- From: Areas of North America
- Family: Lilaceae (lily family)
- Sun: Partial to full shade, especially in areas with warm summers.
- Soil: Moist, but well-drained soils rich in organic matter are best. The plants appreciate abundant amounts of organic matter.
- Moisture: Don't allow the plants to dry out; they're sensitive to drought.
- Mulch: A 1- to 2-inch-deep layer of mulch around the plants may be beneficial to keep weeds down and conserve moisture.
- Pruning: Cut down dead stalks in autumn after they freeze or in early spring before the plants begin to grow.
- Fertilizer: In soils rich in organic matter, extra fertilizer isn't usually necessary. In other soils, use a general-purpose fertilizer in spring.
- Division: Divide merrybells in early spring as they begin to emerge.
- Seed: Sow seed in autumn in a cold frame or sheltered spot in the garden; the seeds need a cold period to germinate. Note: The older the seed, the slower the germination will be. In some cases, it may take years for a seed to germinate.
- Slugs/Snails: Slugs and snails tend to eat at night, chewing up leaves. They leave slick, slimy trails behind the next morning. To deter them, try surrounding plants with a ring of horticultural grade diatomaceous earth. Some people have found success with laying copper strips around plants, but this does not seem to work for everyone. If slugs are not particularly numerous, set out shallow containers of stale beer at ground level. Slugs, attracted to the beer, crawl into it and drown.
- Never collect these plants from the wild; they rarely do well if transplanted from their native woodlands. Instead, select nursery-propagated sources.
- Uvularia grandiflora: Grows to about 3 feet tall with grayish green foliage and nodding yellow, bell-shaped flowers in spring. Zones 3 to 7.
- Uvularia sessifolia: Grows to about 2 feet tall with grayish green foliage and nodding yellow, bell-shaped flowers in spring. Zones 3 to 7.