Best Early Spring Flowers for your Landscape
Have you noticed yet?
The days are getting a bit longer. Buds swell on once dormant branches. Green crocus sprouts rise from the earth as if to greet the sun making its way back to the northern hemisphere. Looking out the window into the late winter garden, you can tell it's still brisk outside, but as your eyes scan across the yard, you feel the anticipation of the first signs of life. Upon us now are the contemplative times where we daydream and wonder of the season to come.
As the days and weeks ahead unfold more and more of your garden plants will awaken from their long winter sleep as the new season comes into full swing. It's worth pausing for a moment to take all of this in, to think about the seasonal rhythm and the harmony of nature that surrounds us. For every season, there are plants that are at their peak interest and full display; for every plant, there is a season where it works it's magic and defines the garden over time.
The plants featured below are among the very first in show seasonally, playing their part in this early spring symphony. These plants are easy to care for, insect and disease resistant, and very low maintenance. You'll love what they do for your garden for years to come.
Best Early Spring Trees
At the top of our list is the iconic Dogwood, one of the most popular early-blooming flowering trees across North America. The native species, Cornus Florida, grows to approximately 15'h x 15'w and is among the most beautiful native trees. With its white flowers that surround a soft yellow center, it makes a beautiful mid-sized specimen on its own, or as an ideal background tree at the landscape edge. The most popular hybrid dogwoods include the:
Next up is a tried and true garden favorite, the Classic Magnolia. The Magnolia is a spectacular flowering tree with very fragrant flowers that bloom from early spring into mid-summer depending on cultivar. They are unique in the landscape in that they are both flowering evergreen and deciduous varieties. The evergreen variations are a longstanding favorite, especially in their native region of the southern United States. With their dark green glossy leaves and contrasting white fragrant flowers, the magnolia is stunning year-round.
America's Favorite Evergreen Magnolia Trees:
America's Favorite Deciduous Magnolia Trees:
Another iconic early spring flowering tree for your landscape is the sensational Redbud tree. With its spectacular pinkish-purple flowers beginning in March and continuing through April, the Redbud Tree is first in the show. Redbuds can have a single trunk or be multi-stemmed, and as a specimen, they make a natural sculpture in the garden.
Redbuds have enjoyed quite a resurgence over the last decade. Their popularity is due in part to the profuse early spring flowers, as well as the introduction of new leaf colors which do not burn in the full sun allowing redbuds to be a potential centerpiece of the landscape rather than living in the shadows of larger trees.
These Redbud trees have made the list of best early-blooming flowering trees due to the stunning display of colorful leaves, and the added benefit of not burning in the full sun. The Merlot Redbud boasts sultry, wine-colored leaves, whereas the Rising Sun Redbud is a vibrant mix of yellow and green foliage.
Best Early Spring Shrubs
While trees in the landscape, with their vertical component, are thought of as focal points or as the walls of the outdoor rooms, shrubs, on the other hand, are the foundation of the garden and give the landscape structure. More than any other plant group, shrubs help to establish the landscapes overall style of design and flow.
We cannot begin talking about the best early flowering shrubs for spring without first mentioning the classic Lilac. Hands down one of the most fragrant shrubs available today. When in bloom, your entire yard will be filled with the heady fragrance of the Lilac. Best when planted in small groups or clusters of three or more, the Lilac with its subtle green foliage makes an excellent centerpiece in the garden. Lilacs have earned their place at the top of the list of early spring blooming shrubs because of their highly fragrant blossoms. From the classic pinkish-white blossom of the beauty of Moscow to delicate pink blooms of Pink Perfume, Lilac shrubs come in all shapes and colors.
Rising from its winter slumber about a month or so before the Lilac in the earliest part of spring is the Forsythia. Known for its distinct shape and wide-spreading branches radiating out like rays of the sun bringing joy and warmth after a cold winter season. The most popular Forsythia shrubs grow vibrant yellow or stark white blossoms that entirely cover the branch.
The stark contrast of the Forsythia’s flame yellow and delicate white flowers against a dormant garden instantly warms the senses and assures you that milder weather is not too far away. Add forsythia branches to your flower arrangements indoors, the Forsythia blooms will add cheer and brighten any room.
As you make your way through the garden from mid-April to late May, you may notice large and dramatic swaths of color painting the landscape. Sometimes bold and vivid, sometimes soft and subtle. The azalea is a classic and treasured garden shrub for its wide range of colors, textures, and sizes.
When in full bloom, Rhododendrons can look like a fireworks show in your garden. Clusters of bell-shaped flowers stand out in contrast to the dark green glossy foliage. Rhododendrons offer a tremendous color burst and can look beautiful when planted alone as a specimen shrub, or used in mass as large color drifts. You might notice the many similarities it shares with Azalea shrubs, but just remember that Rhododendrons are larger so plan accordingly on where it should be placed in your landscape.
Spring blooming Camellias are an easy to grow evergreen, flowering shrub. There aren't too many other shrubs that can boast all of those wonderful traits. The Camellia will flower from the earliest parts of spring and the blooms can last all the way through late May. Camellia can be single or multi-colored as well as single or double-flowered. Some camellia flowers are very fragrant and can also be brought indoors as cut flowers for arrangments.
If you're looking for a vine that flowers in the spring look no further than the beautiful Amethyst Falls Wisteria Vine. Words are hard to come by that will truly describe this beautiful lavender flowered vine. Blooms hang down like clusters of grapes in a vineyard. Heavily fragrant flowers make this plant perfect for an arbor or trellis climber. It's an excellent addition to your patio or garden setting.
Best Early Spring Perennials
As we've discussed trees and shrubs often provide the structure and the foundation of the garden, the next plant group to consider are perennials. Perennials add another layer to your landscape. The most well-designed landscapes have these multiple layers of plant sizes, shapes, textures, and seasonal interests. Where trees and shrubs can be thought of as the bones of the landscape, perennials might be thought of as the tissue, the flesh and blood, the color, and often the seasonal interest attention grabbers.
Early spring blooming perennials offer these pops of color. They help to kick start things in the landscape as they provide first signs of life to the garden. Because Perennials are well-suited for being interplanted with spring bulbs. they're perfect in combination with flowers such as Crocus, Iris, Jonquil, Daffodils, and Tulips. Without further ado here are the perennials.
The Old Fashioned Bleeding Hearts perennial has been a staple in the spring garden for decades and continues to be used today. Its attractive bell-shaped flower is sure to draw attention in the garden or when planted in containers for cozier yards. The good news is that it grows really well just about anywhere in the United States, making it one of the most versatile and adaptable early spring flowering plants.
Dianthus varieties, such as the pink flowering Dianthus Kahori, not only bring color to the spring garden but fragrance as well. The vibrant pink hue brightens any landscape (and mood) and looks lovely in containers or pots. Perfect for decorating patios and front porches!
Helleborus perennials are the true harbingers of spring, often blooming for six weeks or more beginning in late winter. Comprised of both subtle and vibrant colors, charming little blossoms grow in early spring close to the ground adding a layered and dimensional effect. From yellow and pale pink to aubergine and green flowers, Helleborus perennials versatile and complement any existing landscape!
The Lamium Purple Dragon perennial not only produces gorgeous, early spring blooming flowers, but also foliage that provides a unique color throughout the growing season. Deep purple flowers bloom in early spring against a backdrop of silver-green leaves. It's one of the best-suited groundcovers for interplanting with bulbs. If you have areas under trees where little else will grow, try the Lamium Purple Dragon. Its ability to thrive in harsh, dry areas is second to none.
Best Early Spring Grasses and Groundcovers
Over the past decades, no other plant group has had more of an impact to new garden styles design then ornamental grasses. A shift back to the natural state of the landscape before it was altered by man, and an appeal to gardening with a greater sense of the environmental concern has led to the comeback of a plant group that once dominated the natural plain and the prairie alike. The grasses are back and in a big way. They play a key role all year long from filtering out our groundwater and stabilizing our soils, to providing the landscape with a unique, soft and relaxing appearance when used thoughtfully and tastefully. Yes, the Grasses are back. Groundcovers too are on a resurgence. Where once gardens spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on mulch to cover bare open plant beds, common sense has now prevailed and groundcovers are the alternative to filling up this space with additional color interest.
Carex Ice Dance
Carex Ice Dance is a type of grass that sends up attractive flower stalks from the evergreen foliage in early spring. The yellow and green variegated leaves are often mistaken for liriope and can be used as a suitable replacement.
Elijah Blue Fescue is a cool-season grass which means it grows during the cooler months in the spring and fall. It's powder blue color is easily blended into the landscape and provides a cooling effect when planted among brighter colored plants.
Feather Reed Grass or Calamagrostis Karl Forester is a cool-season grass that begins to show signs of growth often when the ground is still frozen. Being a cool-season grass, you can rely on this beauty to provide a lively green color in early spring as it prefers to grow when it's cold.
Ajuga Bronze Beauty will easily naturalize in even the most inhospitable environments, and the blue flowers are highlighted in the early spring above the dark purple leaves. For a lighter touch, Ajuga Burgundy Glow has multicolored leaves of pink, silver, white and green with a more luminous, almost powder blue flower.
Enjoy Your Early Blooming Flowers this Spring
Take the time to enjoy this time of year. Late winter for me is when my imagination is hardest at work, anticipating what the spring has in store for not only the landscape but the natural world in general. We are all watercolor masters in our own minds painting images of flowers and the foliage that we can only long for during the early and mid-winter. Stroll through your landscape on any day during this time of year, and you can find a sign of the promise of the spring and the rebirth of spring beauty.
MORE ON EARLY SPRING PLANTS IN THE LANDSCAPE NEXT WEEK
Until next time - Enjoy the daydream.
See you in the Garden
PS. If you have questions about early spring blooming flowers and plants, or just want to let our professional team of trained horticulturalists help you with your selection, give us a call at 844-348-8971 or contact us via email by clicking HERE. Garden Goods Direct is a fourth-generation family-owned business that has been specializing in ornamental plants for well over 100 years. Let our experience work for you, we’re here to help you succeed whether you're new to gardening and have questions, or are experienced and just want to know what the newest trends are in landscaping. Reach out to us for help or information. We’re always here for you. Many other online stores are using our motto, but we do everything we do to make your landscape a success and our success has been based on one thing. To offer you the highest quality plants and supplies “from our farm to your front door.”
Until next time - Enjoy the daydream.
See you in the Garden