Twin Flower is Charming Groundcover


James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Twin flower is a charming evergreen creeping vine that forms large mats in moist, shady woods. Its sweet-smelling blooms attract bees. After the flowers have faded, the plant’s evergreen leaves remain beneath the snow all winter.

The Twin flower (Linnaea borealis) is a plant found throughout the northern hemisphere in circumboreal habitats. It occurs across the northern hemisphere, from Siberia to Sweden, and across North America. “Borealis” means “northern.” It is sometimes spelt twinflower.

Quick Growing Guide

Botanical Name: Linnaea borealis

En français: Linnée boréale



Sun / Shade:

Water: Keep moist. Will not tolerate drought.



Hardiness Zones:

In Canada, Linnaea borealis longiflora is considered of conservation significance in the Yukon Territory, along the eastern edge of its range.

The twin flower has tiny pink bell-shaped flowers that sit atop a Y-shaped stem. They are in the family Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle). It is a perennial that blooms from June to September.

Where to Plant

The twin flower prefers light shade to direct sunlight. They make excellent ground cover in woodland gardens. It grows in forests, meadows, lakes, rivers, and on dry mountain slopes, and is  suitable for use as a native ground cover in rock gardens and on peat bogs. It has amazing stems that can grow to be a foot or two tall (20 to 40 cms)

Propagating Linnaea borealis

Seeds are hard to collect, but they don’t need any cold treatment to sow. They can be sown in the fall or the spring. It can be propagated by division and by cuttings as well. They are great ground cover plants, but they need room to grow.

Caring for Twin Flower

Twin flower plant care is easy. They do not do well in extreme moisture or drought. The best way to propogate them is through stem cuttings in late spring.

Pruning Linnée boréale

Although twin flowers reproduce through underground runners and spread easily, they are not considered aggressive and are often taken over by other plants. If you want to use them as ground cover, you should give them enough room to spread if you want them to multiply.


No common pests or diseases.

It was named for Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), the father of modern botany, who liked the flower so much he had his portrait painted with it. He was responsible for naming of around 8,000 plants, as well as many animals and the scientific designation for humans: Homo sapiens. The naming of Linnaea borealis was not done by Carolus himself, but rather friend and teacher Jan Frederik Gronovious in his honour.

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