As the cold, dark days of winter fade away, thoughts turn to reviving your landscape with a rainbow of colors. Answering the call are some of the most beautiful perennials that bloom in early spring in hues such as yellow, pink, purple, and white.
Some of them, bursting with anticipation, might even arrive when snowflakes are still on the ground. Their premature arrival is often aided by a mild January. Also, perennials planted in south-facing spots typically arrive a few weeks earlier. Choose as many early bloomers as you like from this list to enjoy a vibrant, early spring spectacle.
These beauties are longstanding harbingers of spring. Some might not even wait for winter to end, adding pops of color amidst the white snow as early as January. Their fragrant blooms come in purple, yellow, white, orange, and white with lavender stripes. Equally attractive is their slender, upright, foliage in a vibrant green.
Add these resilient, easy-to-care-for perennials to a garden with full sun or partial shade and well-draining soil.
It’s easy to see why the bleeding heart is a gardening favorite. Its long raceme-like branches display seven to 15 heart-shaped flowers that look as if they are dripping. Your garden is more likely to be blessed with these blooms earlier in spring if you live in an area with a milder winter.
Bleeding heart is a veritable siren for butterflies and hummingbirds, and a popular choice for cottage gardens. Let it thrive in partial shade, and soil that is rich, alkaline, moist, and well-draining.
Daffodils’ sunny yellow and fresh white flowers bring an instant cheer factor in early spring. But that’s just one of their main attractions. Another reason gardeners love to grow this plant, also known as Narcissus, is because it has poisonous compounds that ward off squirrels and other rodents.
They prefer well-drained soil, slightly acidic soil and full sun. Grow your daffodils on a slope or in a raised bed to ensure proper drainage.
If you didn’t plant your daffodil bulbs in the fall, it’s not too late to enjoy a profusion of these beautiful flowers in spring. You can learn how to force bulbs indoors in just a few steps.
Not all irises are late bloomers. Some of these herbaceous perennials, like the mini reticulata irises, bloom even when there is still snow on the ground. Other small members of the species to consider for early spring blooms are dwarf bearded irises, with elegant, elaborate flowers that bring orchids to mind.
Irises will turn your landscape into a Monet-worthy scene. They flourish in just about any kind of garden, but most prefer full sun and well-drained soil.
This evergreen perennial with glossy green leaves also goes by the name winter-blooming bergenia. In the most southern regions of the country, its clusters of tubular flowers can appear in December. Elsewhere, March until May is its likely blooming period.
Bergenia’s leaves are chockfull of tannins (hence its other nickname, “Siberian tea”). Prune a few leaves to brew a cuppa while enjoying its showy blossoms. It does well in full shade to full sun and is drought-tolerant.
These perennial herbs aren’t just for eating. Starting in early spring, chives display playful, purple buds that give way to pompom-like blossoms on statuesque, green stalks. Whether white, pink, lavender, or purple, the flowers are irresistible to bees.
Members of the Liliaceae, or lily, family, chives add fragrance to your garden and are great companions for carrots, tomatoes, and strawberries. They will live for years in the right environment — full sunlight and fertile, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil.
Japanese Pieris is one of the most beautiful perennials that bloom in early spring. Its clusters of white, red, or pastel pink flowers shaped like inverted urns dangle on long racemes. Amping up this floral display is its glossy, leathery foliage. New leaves emerge in coppery-brown or reddish hues before transforming into a rich green.
A slow-growing shrub, the Japanese Pieris can eventually soar to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It thrives in well-draining, high organic soil and full sun to partial shade. However, if you have children, pets, or horses on your property, give this highly poisonous perennial a miss.
A rush of red in your garden in spring? Why not? Although not often thought of as a springtime color, red early in your landscape makes a bold statement. The fragrant, funnel-shaped blossoms on Stewartstonian azaleas first appear in April. They attract a host of pollinators to your garden, including hummingbirds and bees.
These perennials grow well in dappled sunlight or partial shade, and rich, loamy well-draining soil. However, it is poisonous, so keep children and pets away from it.
Grecian windflower is an anemone, a group of plants grown from bulb-like corms or bare roots. They grow just 6 inches tall but make up for their stature with brightly colored, starburst-like flowers that arrive in April through May. Watch for blossoms in lavender, purple, white, gold, and red. They thrive in partially shaded areas and moist soil.
Add some of the cut blossoms to a cream or white bowl or vase to create a floral arrangement that simply oozes spring. But be aware that it is poisonous to humans and can trigger contact dermatitis.
Also known as marsh marigold, cowslip showers gardens with its golden-yellow flowers from April to early May. It’s especially eye-catching when grown in groups. And, as it reaches just 2 feet tall and has heart-shaped leaves that are 4 inches at maturity, it’s also an excellent ground cover plant.
Cowslip is a buttercup family member and a natural choice for wildflower gardens. As its alternate marshy moniker implies, it loves wet conditions. So, it also thrives in rain or water-themed gardens. If you have a boggy spot in your garden or a pond, consider adding a collection of these endearing perennials.
Prolonging Your Perennials’ Parade
After indulging in the botanical buffet of these early-spring bloomers, it’s a downer to wait for summer flowers to appear. Remember to fill your garden with perennials that bloom at different times throughout the season. This way you will enjoy a succession of flowers, colors, fragrances, and wildlife all season long and usher in summer blooms seamlessly.
Did you know “spring fever” also refers to gardeners chomping at the bit to get back into gardening after winter? Add some other spring facts and gardening tips in the comments below. And remember to share this article with anyone who loves springtime.