Generally in shady places such as woodland,hedgerows and grassland, but can also be found in more open habitats in the damper west of the country.
Around half the world’s population of bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
grow in the UK! They are mainly found in ancient woodland because they prefer moist and shady conditions. However, because it gets very shady there once all the leaves are out, bluebells need to flower early in the spring while there is still enough light on the woodland floor. It is also important they aren’t disturbed by a changing habitat because it can take at least five years for their seed to grow into a bulb! They are protected and you can be fined if you dig up and/or sell a wild bluebell.
Many bluebells found in towns are not the native wild type but are ‘Spanish Bluebells’. They are pretty but are a problem for our native ones. The introduced Spanish bluebell readily interbreed (hybridises) with our wild one to create a third species, the Hybrid bluebell (Hyacinthoides massartiana
). This can affect the ability of the plant to survive. Also the Spanish bluebell competes with the native bluebells for light and space, and it is feared that they may be a better competitor and squeeze out the native species. The easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells is to look at the colour of the pollen. The native species has creamy-white pollen while any other colour such as pale green or blue means it's non-native. The native flower stem droops or nods distinctly to one side whereas the non-native’s stem is stiff and upright. Native flowers have a strong, sweet scent whereas non-native are almost odourless. Bluebells are poisonous
and contain about 15 biologically active compounds to defend themselves from animals and insect pests.
For more info see https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/discover-wild-plants-nature/plant-fungi-species/bluebell