Trillium grandiflorum

great white trillium

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richard Brown / The Arbor Fund

Outstanding Qualities

Great white trillium is a harbinger of spring in the eastern North American woodland, where it can be seen carpeting the forest floors. In early spring, succulent, bright green stems sprout from the soil and develop a canopy of three large, egg-shaped, almost stalkless leaves. In their center emerges a large, stalked, upward- or sideways-facing, pure white blossom. Each of its three petals have slightly ruffled edges. The enchantment and inspiration that this charming wildflower brings to the garden is unparalleled. A natural with other spring bloomers mix with primrose, pulmonarias or Omphalodes. The contrasting foliage of ferns will help set off the foliage.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: perennial

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 1 ft. 6 in. (0.46 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 1 ft. 6 in. (0.46 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: light to open shade

Water Requirements: regular watering

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: burgundy, silver, gold

Great Color Partners: white, variegated, dark green

Culture Notes
Great white trillium grows best in light or open shade. Ideally this is a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade or the bright shade beneath deciduous trees or very tall conifers. In too much shade they will not bulk up or flower well, in hot afternoon sun their foliage burns. All trilliums require fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil, and the eastern North American species, such as this, must have regular additional water during summer. Gardening with trilliums teaches the rewards of patience: young plants can take three to five years to bloom and another five to eight years to develop into a nice clump. Just remember that the wait is well worthwhile with these garden gems. Do not remove old flowers but let the seeds develop, ants will disperse them around your garden to start new clumps. Trilliums are long-lived, spreading slowly and taking several years to form a significant clump. Trilliums are poor competitors, so be careful not to plant aggressive plants nearby.