After a long and cold winter, most gardeners are really looking forward to the first signs of spring in their garden. Growing perennial plants and bulbs is a great way to get that color without extra work in the spring. Thankfully, Mother Nature does not disappoint us. There a many Spring Blooming Plants that arrive very early in the year. Some even peek through the last of the winter snow.
Some plants are annuals (a few…most annuals love the heat of summer), and many are perennials, bulbs and even flowering trees and shrubs. I’ve put together a collection of my 20 top picks. I bet some of them are on your list of favorites, too.
So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and get ready to welcome spring.
Spring blooming plants Gallery.
This cool loving plant is right at home in the earliest spring days. The plant is an annual and looks great as a border or window box plant. It comes in a few colors for variety and can also be planted for fall color after other flowers have stopped blooming. The brightly colored throats look almost like a person!
From as young as I can remember, my mother had Irises growing in the early spring. These lovely bulbs bring a dramatic look to an early garden, and are one of the showiest of early spring blooming plants. They are very easy to care for and some have even been hybridized to be re-bloomers later in the summer. All that is needed in spring is a bit of a clean up around last year’s foliage and you are ready to start over again for another year. Irises come in a wide variety of colors. Some are bearded and ruffled for a glorious show in early spring.
Creeping phlox gives your garden bed and pretty and colorful spring carpet with pretty pastel shades of many colors. This long lasting, aromatic, and showy flowers have become a staple in today’s spring landscapes. Some varieties flower later, as well. There is also a summer blooming variety which is more upright than the creeping variety of phlox.
Glossy puckered leaves and brightly colored flowers with vibrant throats are the characteristics of this early spring bloomer. I have a plant in my front shady garden bed that has been flowering all during February here in NC. It brings promise of the warmer weather to come.
What early spring garden would be complete without the earliest of spring blooming plants? Daffodils poke their heads up in my yard in early February and will flower all through the month as long as we don’t get a hard freeze. Plant them in the fall to get a lovely surprise in very early spring. They make great cut flowers, too! Daffodils bulbs should be planted in the fall to maximize the spring blooms.
Some early spring blooming plants will even grow in the snow!
Hellebores are also known as Lenten Roses. They produce spring flowers in very delicate hues that are very resilient to the cold weather. It is not at all unusual to see them blooming with snow still on the ground. Read more about hellebores here. They come in single and double bloom varieties and can tolerate light frosts. Some varieties have low blooming clusters of flowers and others have the cluster that sits well above the leaves. The self seed readily, too.
Hellebores are evergreen, but the leaves can get pretty ratty over the year. See my tips for pruning hellebores here.
These beautifully colored perennial bulbs announce the arrival of spring in a majestic way. Their flowers have lovely trumpet shaped clusters on sturdy stalks. They make wonderful cut flowers. My hyacinths arrive in the weeks between daffodils and tulips. Plant hyacinth bulbs in autumn and enjoy them in early spring. They can also be forced indoors.
The early bird catches the worm!
“Goodbye winter and hello spring” say these early blooming spring bulbs. Crocuses come in pink, yellow, white and purple and are planted in corms. The range in size from delicate miniatures to larger, more showy blooms. When you see crocuses poking through the snow, you know that spring is not long.
My birth flower is a an English daisy, so I am fond on any flower that looks like this pretty flower. Gazanias are brightly colored daisy like flowers with vibrant stripes that make a really great show in an early spring garden. They are very easy to grow and come back year after year. My plants flower in mid spring and continue to give a show of color all summer and fall.
Each spring, right after the hyacinths start to fade in my front border, I look forward to the tulips giving me a dramatic show. The colors are the most vibrant of those in my early spring garden. They don’t last long but give me so much pleasure when they are blooming.
Spring shrubs have a gorgeous display of flowers.
Some of the prettiest spring blooming plants are azaleas. One of my fondest memories from my early days here in NC was a family trip to Georgia in early spring to see the Azaleas in bloom. As soon as I saw them, I knew that I would have them in my garden. I have a bed of them under a pine tree (they like the acid soil there) that gives me a spectacular show right after the spring bulbs have finished. The come in single and double flowers and all sorts of lovely shades. Prune them after flowering for best results, since next year’s flowers comes on old wood.
I look forward with so much anticipation to my forsythia blooming in very early spring. I have a row of of them that covers a whole fence line and it is just amazing looking. The bushes flower before they get leaves and they show up right about the time that the daffodils do. Read more about growing forsythia bushes here.
Spring is also the best time to tackle the job of pruning forsythia. If you wait until later in the year, you will cut off all those buds wait to bloom!
Many nurseries sell dianthus as an annual, but I have no problem at all getting it to come back each year as a perennial. The brightly colored blossoms with contrasting centers makes a great clumping plant. It will slower all spring and looks great in any garden bed, either as a mounding or border plant. See tips for growing dianthus here.
If you love the look of romantic flowers, a bleeding heart is perfect for you. These exquisitely shaped heart shaped flowers have drops that hang below them to give them their common name. Bleeding hearts love the shady spot in your garden and don’t like the heat too much. They flower best is early spring.
Lily of the Valley
When I was a little girl, I used to play with the neighborhood kids on a near by street that had a little stream. (Yes, you used to be able to let your kids do that in those days!) There were rows and rows of lovely white lily of the valley plants that grew there every year in early spring. I keep planting them every year in different areas of my garden just hoping, against hope, that they will grow. Alas, they like a cooler climate. But if you have one, try growing these delicate flowers.
There is nothing quite like the look of lupine flowers with their heads held high above their leaves. Lupines are known for their love of cool weather and they thrive in early spring. The showy blooms are something to behold. Start them from seed, but they can be a touch finicky to get established.
The common name for this showy perennial is a blanket flower. And blanket your garden bed it does. The look of gaillardias is similar to gazanias and daisies. The bees and butterflies love this pretty perennial.
Gaillardia is very easy to grow. See my tips here.
Don’t forget the trees!
Spring blooming plants are not always small and shrubs and perennial plants are not the only source of flowers in early spring. There are some amazing blossoms on trees, too!
Every year in early spring we have a warm spell and my magnolia tree comes into full bloom. And it also seems that the warm spell is following by a late freeze that kills all the blossoms. This happened to me again last week. It is such a disappointment, but I’ve gotten used to enjoying the flowers while I have them!
One of the most commonly used flowers in the making of vintage jewelry is the dogwood flower. It was used over and over again by mid century designers of vintage jewelry. Since I also have an Etsy store that specializes in this type of jewelry, a flowering dogwood has always been a favorite early flowering tree of mine.
Last, but by no means least on my list of early spring flowers are those that are borne on redbud trees. It is a delight for me to drive around Raleigh in March to see the roadsides lined with redbuds in flower. It is a sight to behold!
What is your favorite early spring flower? I’d love to see some photos of it in the comments below!