The weather is warming up, the temperatures are climbing, and gardeners everywhere are starting to celebrate – spring is finally upon us!
One of the best ways to welcome spring is with a sea of colorful flowers blooming in your gardens. Of course, not every flower is going to be prepared to bloom this early in the season. Make the most of your spring gardening efforts with these early spring flowers.
Pansies are small, colorful flowers that are often seen as potted plants or in window boxes. They are available in a variety of colors, including blue, orange, pink, purple, red, white, yellow, or any combination. In a garden setting, they are a great choice for borders or ground cover. They grow approximately 6 to 9 inches tall and spread approximately 9 to 12 inches.
This flower prefers moist, well-drained soil and full or partial sunlight. They thrive in the spring weather as they prefer cooler temperatures, often wilting with the arrival of the summer heat. The good news is that many will bloom again as the temperatures cool for the fall.
These beautiful blue-purple flowers grow in clusters of tiny blooms, only reaching approximately 4 to 6 inches. They get their name from their grape-like scent. Grape hyacinths grow best in sun or light shade. They are very flexible in terms of soil types, growing well in any condition as long as they aren’t exposed to the extremes of being too wet or too dry.
The most important thing to remember when planting grape hyacinth bulbs is how quickly they spread to the surrounding area. They are considered an invasive species and can quickly take over a garden bed.
Few flowers represent spring the way that the daffodil does. These incredibly hardy and easy to care for perennial flowers bloom late in the winter or early spring, often welcoming the coming season when there’s still snow on the ground. The trumpet-shaped flower can be found in its iconic golden yellow, or it may incorporate white and orange.
For best results, plant your daffodils in an area where they will have full or partial sun. They also prefer well-drained soil kept moist throughout the growing season, but they are susceptible to rot, so drainage is important.
These beautiful white flowers have an eye-catching yellow center, making them look like a daisy. They grow to approximately 12 to 14 inches, making them one of the taller options in terms of single flowers (not bushes or vines). The bloodroot prefers well-drained, moist soil and full or partial shade.
Looking at the beautiful yet fragile flower, you may be confused by where the flower got its name. If you break or cut the roots or stem of the plant, it will release a red-orange juice that makes it look as though your flowers are bleeding. It was traditionally used as a natural dye for fabrics.
Wallflowers are highly drought tolerant making them a great choice for those concerned about keeping up with watering needs. It makes them a great option for those that would like to enjoy some bright spring color without committing to the work of a full garden. If you live in an area that sees regular rainfall, your flowers will be largely hands-off.
Unlike many of the other options on this list that bloom early but then fade away with the coming heat of summer, the wallflower can last until the fall in the right conditions. They are a statement flower, growing anywhere from 1 to 3 feet tall. Wallflowers are available in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, white, blue, and purple.
With beautiful heart-shaped flowers hanging from a single stem, the bleeding heart plant is a beautiful addition to any spring garden. The flowers can bloom in the more recognizable pink and white color combination, red and white, or a solid white. Even the foliage with its blue-green color will add to your space when the plant is first emerging from its winter hibernation. But enjoy it while you can, as this is a plant that will go dormant quickly when the summer season arrives.
Bleeding heart plants prefer to be planted in moist or damp soils and shady, cool locations. But avoid planting there somewhere with poor drainage where they can get waterlogged, leading to root rot. They can grow to heights of approximately 3 feet.
Unlike the other plants up to this point on the list, the Japanese rose is a spring-loving flowering shrub. They grow significantly larger, reaching 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. It makes them a great choice for those looking to bring color to an area without the detailed planning of a traditional flower garden. They are often used along fence lines, as privacy screens, and other defined boundaries.
The Japanese rose is easy to care for. They tolerate wet soils but do thrive best in somewhere with good drainage. Allow the top 2 inches of the soil to dry out before watering. In terms of lighting needs, they grow best in areas that are a partial shade or partial sun, where they will experience some sunshine, but not too much.
When selecting spring flowers, we often focus on bright, bold colors. The snowdrop may not fit into that description, but its delicate white flowers are a great addition to any garden. They thrive in moist, well-drained soil and full to partial sun. These are small flowers, growing anywhere from 3 to 10 inches tall depending on conditions, and they naturalize well, coming back year after year. But be warned that they do multiple quickly, taking over your garden space.
One word of warning, the snowdrop is not the best option for those with pets or young children. These flowers are toxic to humans and other animals and should not be grown in an area where they may be in reach of curious puppies or mischievous toddler hands.
Another flower that represents and symbolizes the arrival of spring, the tulip is an iconic addition to your spring gardening. They can be found in a wide variety of colors, including pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, green, white, or any combination of those options. As these flowers tend to emerge in the late winter, they often offer a welcome pop of color against the melting snow.
Tulips can grow anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet tall, depending on the variety and the growing conditions. They prefer full or partial sun. In terms of water, they are very sensitive to excess moisture. Plant your tulips in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering. In most climates, you can water them well once when planting the bulb, and then rely on the natural rainfall for ongoing maintenance. If you experience an extended period of drought, you can lightly water the dry soil.
Hellebores are a member of the daisy family that thrive in colder temperatures. They bloom in late winter, starting as early as Christmastime, ushering in the coming spring with a pop of bold colors including pink, maroon, purple, yellow, green, white, cream, or near black. They can be a solid color, or they could be colored with speckles or spots. The flowers will bloom for 6 to 8 weeks at a time, returning year after year.
Growing approximately 1 to 2 feet tall and equally as wide, making a beautiful statement in your outdoor space. Hellebore can be found in a variety of colors, including pink, purple, white, and yellow. They grow best in moist but well-drained soils. During the summer months, they prefer a shaded location but sunshine in the winter will allow them to thrive.
Another early bloomer, the crocus often blooms while the snow is still on the ground, marking the arrival of spring. There are 2 main types of spring-flowering crocuses, each with its appearance and timeline. Snow crocuses or wild crocuses are the first to bloom with smaller flowers. A little later in the season, the Dutch crocus will bloom with larger, more dramatic flowers. By incorporating both varieties, you can extend your spring gardening season to incorporate both timeframes.
Crocuses grow best in well-drained soil with full to partial sun. They do well in gritty or sandy soils, making them an optimal choice for rock gardens. They grow approximately 2 to 6 inches tall and wide, depending on the variety.
A commonly seen spring wildflower, the starflower gets its name from its delicate star-shaped flower. Each flower features 6 to 8 pointed petals (most commonly 7), creating an open flower face that measures approximately ½ inch across. They can bloom in white, brown, or green, lasting approximately 2 weeks in their ideal growing conditions. However, if the temperatures rise too quickly, that time can be cut short. After the plant has stopped flowering, the foliage will continue to thrive for several months.
The starflower will grow to heights of 3 to 6 inches tall and equally as wide. They thrive when planted in full to partial sun and average, well-drained soils. They are a great choice for newer gardeners as they don’t require a lot of care and ongoing maintenance. These flowers aren’t commonly plagued by disease and don’t even need regular weeding.
These spring plants feature large clusters of tiny little blossoms, creating the illusion of a blanket of color in your garden or yard space. It makes them a great choice for ground cover, creating a blanket of flowers with a sweet, honey-like fragrance that will attract many early spring pollinators like bees and butterflies. They can grow up to 12 inches tall and wide, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Not only are they a great choice for groundcover, but they are low maintenance for newer gardeners or those with busy schedules.
The flowers are available in purple, pink, or white. While they don’t mind the cold temperatures, sweet alyssum prefers plenty of sunshine, growing best in full or partial sun. They should be planted in well-drained soil, and the ground should be kept moist throughout the growing season.
The columbine is a little later blooming than most of the flowers on this list, showcasing its colors starting in the mid-spring in most cases. However, they are a great option for gardeners that are interested in not only enjoying their garden themselves, but also attracting butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds. With over 70 species available, they are available in a wide range of colors ranging from light pastels to bold, deep purples, and every other in between. They can also be found in several color combinations.
This spring flower requires full sun to reach its full potential, both in size and color. They are very hardy, growing best in well-drained soil closer to the drier end of the spectrum. It makes them a great choice for rock gardens or areas that may experience drought conditions at some time throughout the year.
Bluebells are one of those flowers that everyone talks about and recognizes the name, but not every gardener has had the opportunity to see them firsthand, depending on their location. They grow as native wildflowers in eastern North America, blanketing the ground of the forests and woodlands. For gardeners, this makes the Virginia bluebell a great choice for ground cover due to its natural ability to spread and multiply in a space.
They grow best in rich, moist soil and when exposed to full or partial shade, conditions that can be largely attributed to growth in the shadows of large trees. The stems will grow approximately 1 to 2 feet tall with clusters of flowers at the top. The flowers will start yellow, slowly changing into pink and then blue when they are fully grown.
Also known as twinspur, the diascia plant is a relative of the snapdragon that was originally discovered in South Africa. In more recent years, the varieties available here in North America were bred in our garden centers and greenhouses to produce new colors and blooms that are better adapted to our climate. The most common colors available include pink, coral, orange, plum, red, and white.
The diascia will grow 6 to 12 inches tall and can reach widths of up to 18 inches. They grow best in full to partial sun, with fertile, well-drained soils. While these flowers will need to be watered regularly, they should not be left in wet or overwatered soil as it can lead to root rot. The flowers will often fade with the arrival of the summer heat, but if you keep them watered, they can perk up and re-emerge again when the temperatures cool off.
Lily of the Valley
With tiny, delicate white or pink flowers, the lily of the valley is a great way to add a softer touch to any garden space. But these plants are highly toxic to both dogs and cats, causing digestive issues, heart problems, and even seizures. If you are creating a pet-friendly garden, this is one to leave off the list. For everyone else, they are a beautiful and fragrant spring flower that requires very little maintenance or attention to thrive in their environment.
Lily of the valley grows best in full or partial sunlight with rich, well-drained soils. They are a ground cover option that can spread very quickly if allowed to. This, combined with their extremely hearty nature, means that they can quickly take over your entire garden if they aren’t cut back and controlled from one season to the next.
Another beautiful blue and purple flower, the woodland phlox can be found in many different shades, including light purple, violet, violet-blue, lighter blue, rosy lavender, pale pink, or white. The highly fragrant flowers will bloom in clusters early in the season, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. They will naturalize quickly to your outdoor space and spread rather quickly, but they can also be controlled easily and therefore are not classified as invasive plants.
Woodland phlox is a lower-lying ground cover option growing to approximately 0.75 to 1 foot tall. They prefer moist, well-drained soils but can also grow surprisingly well in dry, clay soil and other growing conditions, where necessary. The flower prefers to be grown in partial shade and will fade away quickly in full sun unless they are being grown in a cool climate location.
A larger flowering shrub, the bright color of the flowering quince is sure to make a statement in any outdoor space. The blooms will emerge in March or April, painting your space with shades of red, orange, pink, and white. While they were originally exclusive spring bloomers, many varieties have since been bred to flower again with the arrival of the cooler autumn temperatures.
Flowering quince is a thorned plant. For this reason, they are often used as a boundary along the property line to keep unwanted visitors at bay. The bushes will grow to approximately 6 to 10 feet tall and wide. They are best suited to full sunlight and loamy soils featuring sand and silt as opposed to large amounts of harder clay. They prefer full or partial sun and will bloom better if they are kept well-watered during dry periods, but not to the point of being left in wet areas where they could experience rot.
The primrose is a beautiful spring flower available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. It makes it easy to find the perfect match for your garden space, whatever it may be. There are over 400 different species! They will grow anywhere from 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide to 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide, depending on the variety, and can be found in nearly any color except for green.
Despite being available in so many different forms, there are some aspects of the primrose that remain consistent from one variety to the next. It includes the fact that they grow best in partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soils. They have a beautiful fragrance; however, it is soft and subtle. If you want to enjoy their scent, plant them near a bench or seating area. They do thrive in containers making it easy to incorporate them into patio spaces.
Embrace the Arrival of Spring with These Early Bloomers
Few sights are as uniquely associated with spring as that of a blooming garden, transforming your backyard winter wonderland into a sea of bright, bold colors. So why wait? By including these spring flowers in your garden planning, you will be fully prepared to welcome spring in style.
There is only one big question left for you to ask – what colors are you going to incorporate?