How to Grow Trillium — Wake Robin

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Trillium is a low-growing, clump-forming perennial that bears three-petaled purplish-pink to white flowers in spring. The flowers stand erect just above diamond-shaped green leaves.

Trillium thrives in partial shade. It wants humus-rich well-drained soil.

Trillium is suitable for moist, shady borders or woodland gardens.

Trillium is a genus of about 30 species of rhizomatous, deciduous perennials native to mainly woodlands and srub in North America.

Get to know Trillium

  • Plant type: Spring-blooming bulb
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 4-8
  • Hardiness: Hardy of 0°F (-18°C)
  • Height and width: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide
  • Foliage: Lance-shaped or elliptoic to ovate net veined silver- or purple-marbled leaves
  • Flowers: Upright or nodding terminal funnel- or cup-shaped flowrs
  • Flower colors: Usually white and pinks, burgundy, and mahogany
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Woodland garden; thrives in shade
  • Common name: Trillium, wake-robin
  • Botanical name: Trillium spp.
  • Family: Liliaceae
  • Origin: Scrub and woodland in North America

Where to plant Trillium

  • Plant trillium in light to medium shade.
  • Grow trillium in humus-rich, moist soil that is neutral to acidic.
  • Grows well under deciduous trees and large shrubs.

Trillium uses and companions

  • Grow Trillium in moist, well-drained shady places. It is suitable for a shady border or woodland garden.
  • Good garden companions for Trillium include Doronicum, Hosta, Mertensia, Polygonatum, Primula, Pulmonaria.
White trillium, Trillium grandiflorum
White trillium, Trillium grandiflorum

When to plant Trillium

  • Set trillium rhizomes in spring or set out established plants.

Planting and spacing Trillium

  • Space trillium 1 to 2 feet apart.
  • Plant rhizomes 4 inches deep.
  • Work ample aged compost into the soil at planting time.

How to water and feed Trillium

  • Trillium needs abundant water; keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Add aged-compost to planting beds and add aged compost around plants each spring.

Trillium care

  • Mulch around trillium to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • When trillium is dormant, divide clumps to create new plants.
  • Trillium is commonly pest and disease-free.

Trillium propagation

  • Divide rhizomes after flowering; this will stimulate formation of new offsets.
  • Trillium can be grown from seed but it take about 2 years for germination and another 5 to 7 years before plants flower.

Trillium varieties to grow

  • Trillium grandiflora has showy flowers 2-3 inches across.
  • Trillium erectum, Trillium sessile, and Trillium chloropetalum grow to 2-feet tall.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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