Popular Spring Flowers for Your GardenThe best flowering bulbs and perennials for early- to late-spring color
The spectacle put on by flowering bulbs and perennials each spring is one of Mother Nature’s best performances. She keeps them hidden under a blanket of snow-covered soil until the lengthening days and warming sun signal that it’s time for their grand entrance. Right on cue, they rise out of their beds to banish our winter blues and remind us that spring has arrived. By planting a wide variety of spring flowers, you can enjoy this glorious display from late February through mid-June. Here are some of the top performers for season-long color.
Helleborus x hybridus
Also known as Lenten rose, this spring flower comes in many colors and can really brighten up shady locations. Hellebores bloom early in the season with flowers lasting two months or longer. Hellebores grow best in an area protected from extreme conditions, such as extreme cold or full sunlight. Hellebore clumps can be divided or plants may spread through self-seeding. Encourage new foliage growth by cutting back the stems after the flowers fade.
Snowdrops prefer cooler climates and light shade and defy the cold by pushing their white flowers up through a blanket of snow. Their short stature makes them the perfect choice for woodland or rock gardens and borders. For the best massing effect, plant snowdrops in clusters of at least 25 bulbs, spacing them about 3 inches apart in moist humus-rich soil in an area that is protected from full sun.
A dependable and easy flower to grow, daffodils require very little care and are a great choice for beginning gardeners. Their trumpet-shaped flowers are typically yellow or white and they grow best in full sun or light shade. For best results, plant in masses in a perennial garden, or let them naturalize in a woodland garden. As with most plants grown from bulbs, leave the foliage in place until it yellows to gather energy to store in the bulb for the following season.
The deep violet flowers of grape hyacinth bloom in early spring and last as long as three weeks. Their bell-shaped flowers resemble upright clusters of miniature grapes. They grow best in full sun or partial shade and are easy to care for. They will naturalize and spread through an area, though not aggressively. After blooming, foliage will die back in late spring, but reemerge in the fall and remain through the winter until they bloom again the following season. When planted in groups of 50 or more in open areas, they can create spectacular drifts of color. Plant under shrubs and trees, in rock gardens, and in perennial borders for a colorful impact.
Bearded iris come in a range colors, heights, and bloom times. The shortest varieties bloom as early as mid-March, with taller irises blooming from mid-May to June; some even re-bloom in summer or fall. For best results, plant bearded iris between July and September, while they are dormant. If your iris beds become overcrowded, divide each plant by lifting up the entire clump with a garden fork, separating the new growth from the older center, and replanting.
Dutch crocus flowers bloom in early spring and flowers last for about three weeks. Flowers close at night and open up in the morning. Plants perform best in gritty, well-drained soils. Mass in lawns, under trees or in sunny woodland areas.
Blooming in early spring, primrose comes in many vibrant colors. They prefer rich, well-drained soil, regular water, partial sun to deep shade, and perform best in cooler climates. Primrose combine well and can be naturalized in a woodland setting or use as an accent in a mixed border or container.
Winter aconite is a late winter to early spring bloomer with cup-shaped, upward facing, bright yellow, flowers. These plants will often push their flowers up through the snow. They enjoy full sun at the time of blooming and then the increasing shade as trees leaf out overhead. Winter aconite needs consistent moisture throughout the year, but a bit less in late spring. It thrives best when mass planted under trees or in front of shrubs.
Bloodroot is a stemless wildflower that blooms in early spring. The flowers are short lived (1-2 days), and grow best in moist, well-drained soils in part to full shade. The blooms open in the sun and close at night. Bloodroot is best when planted in mass in shaded areas of woodland, wildflower, native plant or rock gardens where plants can be left alone and allowed to naturalize. Roots are caustic and poisonous if ingested.
Bleeding heart bears white, pink, or red heart-shaped flowers on arching stems above fern-like leaves. Plant these alongside bold-leafed plants that will grow up and cover the dying foliage. They grow best in rich, well-draining soil with regular moisture. For longer-lasting plants, the foliage and flowers of fringed bleeding heart or western bleeding heart will last into fall with regular watering. Grow in a woodland setting with other shade lovers, or in a container.
Forget-me-not, is a hairy, tufted, spring-flowering plant. They are easily grown in organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Although technically a short-lived perennial, this plant is often grown as a biennial. The best uses for the forget-me-not are bedding, border fronts, rock gardens, wild gardens, woodland areas or around ponds. Plant where they can naturalize, as they spread aggressively.
Trilliums feature three leaves in a spiral pattern with a single flower. Blossom colors sometimes appear yellowish bronze or reddish-green. Flowers often have a sweet but faint fragrance. The blooms give way to berry-like capsules and seeds are disbursed by ants. Its foliage will usually die to the ground by late summer, particularly in dry soil. For the best results grow in shady areas.
Lily-of-the-valley blooms dainty bell-shaped flowers in the spring and have a heavenly fragrance. The lance-shaped leaves last all summer, serving as an attractive groundcover. This shade-loving plant isn’t fussy about soil, but will spread aggressively, so avoid placing it near perennial gardens or borders. If overcrowded, they may not flower as vigorously, so divide after flowering, and replant in an area that allows them to spread.
Viola x wittrockiana
Popular bedding plants for cool weather, pansies come in a wide variety of colors often with contrasting markings in the center. Pansies are short-lived evergreen perennials that are usually grown as annuals or biennials. The plants will inevitably succumb to the summer heat, at which point they should be removed from the garden.
Blooming in late spring, the spherical blooms of alliums are striking in any garden, and their scent helps keep unwanted pests away. They don’t need much space to grow and are great among any annual or perennial garden. Alliums grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Allow the foliage to die back naturally before removing it. Divide them if they become overcrowded, and replant the bulbs in the fall.