In the dreary days of winter, seeing early spring bloomers signals warmer weather is on its way and soon you will be getting back to your garden. These cheerful early blooms also bring color to our world even before many trees have green leaves. If you don’t have any of these plants in your garden consider adding some this year.
Here are some of our favorites that will give you a pop of color in the early spring:
Bleeding Heart - Bleeding Heart is known for its unique heart-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring. While the red flowers are what the plant is known for they also come in pink and white. They are a great selection for a location with shady growing conditions or moist areas on the edge of woodlands. The plant typically grows 2 to 3 feet tall but after it blooms, usually in June, it will die back until the following spring. It is usually a good idea to plant something in proximity to it that can fill that space for the rest of the season. Bleeding Heart is a perennial and hardy in garden zones 3 through 7. If it likes the spot it is planted in it will self-seed.
Candytuft - Candytuft also known as Iberis is a perennial groundcover that begins blooming in early spring and can then continuously flower for up to 10 weeks. Its white flowers completely cover its green foliage and it makes a perfect plant to combine with Tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs. You can start the seed in mid-summer and then move the plants to their permanent location in the fall. Candytuft grows best in well-drained soil in full sun. It can be trimmed to maintain a neat appearance and is generally free of pests and immune to diseases. Once established it requires little care.
Hellebore - Hellebore is also known as Lenten Rose. It blooms starting in February in some areas and lasts for 8 – 10 weeks. Grown in garden zones 4 through 9 it does best in moist, well-draining soils in partly shady locations. The flowers are cup-shaped and come in white and shades of pink to purple. They come in a variety of flower sizes. This perennial is deer resistant and once established is very low maintenance. Amongst the earliest blooming perennials, they typically do not need to be divided in order to maintain their vigor. In fact, it is actually best to not disturb their roots as this can impact the plant’s health.
Forsythia - Nothing says that spring has arrived like the stunning yellow flowers of the Forsythia plant! The flowers last about 2 weeks. This easy to care for shrub is equally beautiful as a formally trimmed hedge or in the corner of a yard where it can be used as a barrier to keep out unwanted visitors. It prefers soil that drains well and is not overly moist although it is pretty adaptable to most growing conditions. This fast-growing bush flourishes in garden zones 5 through 8 and blooms on last year’s growth, which means you should prune the shrub after it finishes blooming in the spring and then not prune it thereafter.
Winter Aconite – Winter Aconite is one of spring’s earliest bloomers. These blooms appear before crocus flowers. The plant is native to woodland areas of Western Europe. Depending on where you live you might see these flowers pop out of the snow. The flowers resemble buttercups, which makes sense since this flower is part of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family. The bright yellow flowers can be used as a border, groundcover, or in your garden bed. The flowers last for a few days once they have bloomed. It is sensitive to the temperature opening in sunny, warmer weather and closing in cold overcast weather. After blooming green leaves materialize turning the plant into a carpet of green. These plants are grown from tubers, not bulbs. The tubers store nutrients which help the plant overwinter and survive the harsh winter weather. The plant does well in full sun to partial shade. It will perform best in a location that gets 5-6 hours of sun a day. Hardiness zones 3-7.
Winter Heath - Winter Heath is an evergreen plant that is known for its early flowering and evergreen presence. These plants are native to central and southern Europe. The foliage appears year-round and is needlelike which is generally green but there are some varieties that are found to be lime-green to dark green. It will bloom depending on the variety from late winter to early spring and they last for a long period of time. The small drooping bell or urn-shaped flowers are found in shades of pink, red, or white. This plant is a shrub-like groundcover that grows from 6 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide. The plant is easy to grow but needs to be planted in the correct soil. The soil varies depending on the variety, but most prefer moist, well-drained acidic soil. Plant Winter Heath in full sun to partial shade and it does not need to be fertilized. It is deer resistant and tolerant of seaside conditions. Hardiness zones 5 - 7.
Let us know if you have any of these early bloomers in your garden!