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Painted Trillium Planting Guide and Types

Trillium Planting



Trillium flowers bloom during the late spring and summer months. These three-petaled flowers come in hues of white, yellow, crimson or purple. Wildflowers native to North America, trillium makes a rewarding shade plant but takes years to establish and thrive. Plant either from seed or from rhizome in the late summer to early fall.

Growing Environment

Trilliums prefer a rich, moist soil with lots of organic material. These flowers grow well in shady spots and can grow beneath tree canopies. They do best with a pH near neutral or slightly acidic.


Different types of trillium grow from USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. White trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) grows naturally throughout the northeastern United States and as far south as Georgia, though this flower is endangered in Maine and nearly so in New York. The purple toadshade trillium (Trillium underwoodii) grows in the southeastern United States as far south as Florida.

Planting From Seed

Trillium planted from seed can take up to two years to germinate, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Collect seed from trillium flowers in the summer months. Then prepare the ground for planting by digging up the soil in your chosen area, breaking apart soil clumps and removing rocks and other debris from the seed bed. Rake the soil back into an even layer once you’ve dug up and aerated the soil. Dig furrows 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep. Then sow trillium seeds in the furrow, spacing them 1 to 2 inches apart. Cover over the soil and water the seed bed thoroughly. Continue to water it when the soil becomes dry until the seeds germinate.

Planting From Rhizome

Prepare the soil in the same manner when planting trillium from rhizomes. Then dig one hole for each rhizome that’s twice as wide as the rhizome and 2 inches deeper. Space the holes 10 inches apart. Place the rhizome in the hole with the pointy eye facing up. Cover the rhizome with 2 inches of soil. Water the ground until the soil becomes saturated then continue to water during dry periods.


Trillium patches can take up to 17 years to get established but may live up to 70 years, notes Skidmore College. Amending the soil with lots of compost will help new trillium get established. White-tailed deer graze on white trillium flowers, so avoid planting this flower if your area has an invasive deer population.

Types of Trillium Flowers

The Trillium genus belongs in the lily plant family (Liliaceae) and contains numerous perennials native to the United States. Most trillium species bloom during the spring and early summer. If you would like to grow trillium flowers, select a variety according to your hardiness zone, the plant’s mature size, flower color and intended use.

Green Trillium

Green trillium (Trillium viride) performs well in hardiness zones 5 to 8. This trillium species reaches up to 18 inches in height and spread. Green or yellow-green flowers appear in April and May. Also called the wood trillium, this plant features leafless stems and deep green leaves. The foliage generally dies by the middle of summer. Green trilliums like humus, well-drained soils in partial to full shade positions. Gardeners often use the green trillium in wildflower gardens.

Red Trillium

The red trillium (Trillium erectum), sometimes called the stinking-Benjamin, features diamond-shaped green leaves and stems that range from 6 to 18 inches tall. Solitary, deep red flowers with backward curving petals bloom from April through June. These foul-smelling flowers wither in two or three weeks, giving way to red fruits that attract birds. This perennial typically performs well in hardiness zones 4 to 8. This plant prefers acidic, humus soils in partial shade to full sun locations. Red trillium plants perform well in rich, moist woodland areas.

Pacific Trillium

The pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum ) ranges from 8 to 20 inches in height. This perennial features broad green leaves and long, naked stalks. Flowers display from February through June, featuring white blossoms that fade to pink within a week. This trillium variety also is called the western wakerobin because the flowers bloom around the time that robins appear in the spring. This trillium species prefers cool soils in shady sites. Pacific trillium plants work well planted along streams and moist slopes in hardiness zones 5 to 8.

Nodding Trillium

Nodding trillium plants (Trillium cernuum), also called whip-poor-will flowers, bear large green leaves and arching stems that reach up to 18 inches tall. Nodding, white flowers with pink anthers bloom in May, followed by purple berries that ripen to red. These inedible berries contain toxic principles. Winter hardy in zones 2 to 9, this type of trillium requires moldy, rich soils in shady positions. Gardeners often plant nodding trillium in damp woodland margins.

Painted Trillium

The painted trillium (Trillium undulatum) features a thin, arching stalk that reaches up to 16 inches long. This trillium species bears large, bluish-green leaves and white flowers with pink or purple markings. These blossoms appear from April through June, followed by red berries in the early autumn. Winter hardy to zone 4, the painted trillium tolerates various lighting conditions but prefers acidic, sandy soils. The painted trillium works well planted in moist woodland areas.

Slender Trillium

Slender trillium plants (Trillium gracile), sometimes called graceful trilliums, need moist, acidic soils in shady, undisturbed locations. Winter hardy to zone 6, this trillium variety bears mottled, green leaves and flowers that appear in April. The blossoms emerge a maroon color but turn attractive, yellowish-green shades with age. Mature plants range from 8 to 12 inches in height. Gardeners often plant the slender trillium in woodland gardens.
See also ….

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum) ~ By Larry Stritch

Trillium undulatum Willd. ~ painted trillium

Trillium undulatum – Willd.



2 responses

  1. Pingback: Calamus | Find Me A Cure

  2. Pingback: Trillium erectum | Find Me A Cure

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