Plant of the Month for Apr 2024

Trillium erectum

Description and General Information:

Red trillium or red wakerobin, is among the most widespread species of Trillium in North America, extending from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada, south along the Appalachians, to north Georgia. Plants arise 30-45 cm tall, from a rhizome, with a whorl of three, plain-green leaves. The solitary flower arises above the whorl of leaves.  Blossoms are held outwards or a slightly nodding.  They have three green sepals and three maroon-red petals, with blossoms reaching 5-9 cm across. The flowers have an unpleasant fragrance, reminiscent of wet dog! A rare white album variety also exists.

Trillium erectum


This species is relatively easy to accommodate. Ideally they need sunny conditions in spring, followed by shadier conditions after flowering.  For this reason, they are popular for planting under deciduous trees. The soil should be moisture-retentive and humus rich. They prefers acidic soil.  This species is rated hardy through zone 4.

Blooming Season:

This species blooms from March in the southern part of its range, to late May or even early June, at the northern end.

Trillium erectumTrillium erectum var. album


Mature clumps may be dug and divided after blooming.  Propagation by seed is also an option but seed must be fresh and ideally sown immediately upon ripening. Otherwise, seeds may be kept in damp sand at room temperature before sowing in the fall. Seeds need a cold stratification period before they will germinate.  Sowing in mid-summer and leaving the pot outside for the winter should allow for springtime germination.

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