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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 28, 2010

From: Saugatuck, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Rare or Endangered Plants, Planting, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Transplanting trilliums
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

What's the best time to transplant white trillium on my property on the shore of Lake Michigan?

ANSWER:

When my mother dug up a trillium from the woods and planted it her flowerbed at the front of our home, my teenaged siblings and I all scolded her for her "illegal act".  However, like our famous Texas Bluebonnet, Ontario's trillium is protected from picking/digging only by urban myth, not the law.

Trillium grandiflorum (white trillium) is not difficult to propogate by seed but can take a notoriously long time to grow to maturity after germination.  So most of the trilliums you find for sale in nurseries are actually collected from the wild.  

The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes, so I must encourage you to leave the plant where it is and try to propogate it by seed or rhizome division.  You can find instructions in William Cullina's book , "Wildflowers: A Guide to Growing and Propogating Native Flowers of North America"

That being said, my mother's trillium blooms happily on in her front garden 30 years later.  Be certain you do not damage the plant while digging  and transplant it in mid to late summer, just before it goes dormant.


Trillium grandiflorum
 

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Bibliography

Wildflowers (2000) Cullina, W. and Cullina B.

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