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21 Spring Flowers for Your Garden

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21 Spring Flowers for Your Garden

 

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Early spring flowers are the surest sign that warmer weather is coming. Our list of early spring flowers will give you ideas for the best flowers to plant in spring. After a long winter, it’s time for spring landscaping!

  • Pansy

Cool weather is just what pansy prefers. It’s an annual that gardeners flock to because it’s one of the best flowers to plant in spring for early-season containers and window boxes, relishing the variety in petal color as much as the cheery uplifted blooms.

Name: Viola x wittrockiana

Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide

Zones: 4-8

 

  • Yellow Trillium

    Yellow trillium is a true spring plant: Once its flowers die back at the season’s end in June, the foliage recedes, too. Even so, its marbled leaves and delicate yellow-white blooms are a welcome sight in April.

    Spring flower tip: In a woodland garden, pair it with other shade-lovers.

    Name: Trillium luteum

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 5-8

  • Hellebore

    Also known as a Lenten rose or Christmas rose, hellebores produce spring flowers of delicate beauty and surprising resilience. In warmer climates, it may even tolerate light frosts, making it one of the best flowers to plant in spring. For unusual flowers, ask at your nursery about double-bloom varieties.

    Name: Helleborus niger

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • Bloodroot

    This herbaceous spring perennial flower makes its appearance in March, shooting up white flowers that last until late spring. It’s one of the best flowers to plant in spring and a good fit for either a shaded or woodland garden.

    Name: Sanguinaria canadensis

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Snowdrop Anemone

    Fragrant and festive, the bright clusters of snowdrop anemone work well even in a spring garden that’s slightly shaded. Bonus: Once the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, the plant may put on a second bloom show in the garden.

    Name: Anemone nemorosa

    Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • Redbud

    Flowers get lots of press, but plenty of trees offer springtime feasts for the eyes. One of them is the eastern redbud, a tree that puts on a riotous display of pink beginning in March.

    Name: Cercis canadensis

    Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 30 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • Lilac

    There’s no sweeter spring fragrance than the blooms of this cottage-garden favorite. Lilac varieties, one of the best flowers to plant in spring, come in all shapes and sizes, from dwarf shrubs to taller trees.

    Spring flower tip: The lilac blooms on old wood, so hold off on pruning until right after the same year’s flowering is finished.

    Name: Syringa vulgaris

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 20 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • ‘Acoma’ Iris

    Pick your favorite color, and there’s likely an iris to fill your spring garden need. Most put on their bloom show toward the end of spring, but the plants’ tall growth and delectable petal variations make them pretty additions to a variety of garden styles.

    Name: Iris ‘Acoma’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 34 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Grape Hyacinth

    As much as any other spring bulbs, hyacinths trumpet the arrival of spring. Clustered flowers hang lusciously from sturdy stalks, resembling bundles of grapes; they are one of the most beautiful and best flowers to plant in spring.

    Name: Muscari armeniacum

    Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • ‘Harmony’ Iris

    As much a late-winter plant as it is an early-spring bloomer, dwarf wild iris pops with deep, wild purple or blue — a welcome contrast to many of spring’s pastel flowers. Cut a clutch of the iris to put in a vase and take the pleasing fragrance of this early spring flower inside.

    Name: Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 5-8

  • ‘Grand Maitre’ Crocus

    Crocuses are one of the best flowers to plant in spring, announcing the departure of winter with lovely pink, purple, yellow, or white petals. Planted from corms, crocuses also range in size from delicate blooms to more showy versions.

    Name: Crocus ‘Grand Maitre’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 3-8

  • Daffodil

    If it’s spring, it’s time for a show of daffodils. The bright, jovial spring flower has a range of shapes and sizes, from trumpet to small- and large-cupped to double. Deer find them less palatable than other spring plants, but the foliage should be left to die back on its own to rejuvenate the plants for the following year.

    Name: Narcissus selections

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Tulip

    With innate cheerfulness and beauty, a  tulip, one of the best flowers to plant in spring, lends itself to a variety of garden settings — from formal border gardens to naturalistic, casual settings. And there’s a tulip for every gardener, from diminutive 4-inch-tall specimens to extravagant multifoot-high blooms.

    Name: Tulipa selections

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Zones: 3-7

  • Winter Aconite

    If the snow has melted, you can be sure that winter aconite is ready to burst forth from the spring garden. Its growth time is limited — the plant dies back once spring transitions to summer — but its pretty, open blooms make it a showpiece in a woodland garden.

    Name: Eranthis cilicica

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

  • Puschkinia

    Inside the blooms of snowdrift is an exquisite surprise: striped flowers that offer surprising color variation. Tall foliage stalks make these a good companion to lower spring growers such as crocus and one of the best flowers to plant in spring.

    Name: Puschkinia scilloides

    Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • ‘Miniature Snowflake’ Mock Orange

    The delicate blooms of sweet mock orange belie its easy-growing nature. After planting it, you hardly have to do a thing to this compact shrub! In addition to pretty white flowers, the plant supplies an intoxicating fragrance.

    Name: Philadelphus ‘Miniature Snowflake’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 3-7

  • Bluestar

    The rewards of Arkansas bluestar bridge the gap between spring and fall: The plant puts on a restrained color show in spring with star-shape, light blue flowers. Then in the fall, the foliage takes a turn for the brilliant, transforming into a golden-yellow display.

    Name: Amsonia hubrictii

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • Summer Snowflake

    A drooping bell shape distinguishes the diminutive blooms on summer snowflake, making it both delicate and one of the best flowers to plant in spring. In a flowerbed, group several of the plants to create a focal point.

    Name: Leucojum aestivum

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Zones: 4-9

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea

    Big flowers and oversize foliage ensure the oakleaf hydrangea has a unique presence in the garden. For flower lovers, the late-spring-blooming shrub offers reliable, vigorous growth, but the plant also supplies visual interest throughout the growing season.

    Name: Hydrangea quercifolia

    Growing conditions: Part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • ‘Pink Discovery’ Azalea

    Its bright color burst is short-lived, but ‘Pink Discovery’ azalea’s solid mass of flamboyant flowers provides a just-right transition from spring to summer bloomers. Pair the shrubs with hellebores, as in this sidewalk border, for an early-season showstopper.

    Name: Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanensis ‘Pink Discovery’

    Growing conditions: Part shade and moist but well-drained acidic soil

    Size: To 10 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

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    Double Rock Rose

    Double Rock Rose

    Rock rose makes spring-flower lovers wait until late in the season for blooms, but that extra dose of patience is worth it. Double varieties such as this one are one of the best flowers to plant in spring, with a profusion of petals on low-growing shrubs in both spring and early summer.

    Name: Helianthemum ‘Annabel’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide

    Zones: 6-8

  • These annual flowers don’t mind cool temperatures and are perfect for early-spring gardens.

 

The Best Spring Gardening Flowers

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Pair Bulbs & Hardy Annuals

Container with red Tulip (Tulipa) and Primrose (Primulas)


Gerry Whitmont/Photolibrary/Getty Images

If your digging arm ran out of steam after planting the first bag of fifty tulips last fall, your spring flower show may not be as lush as you wanted it to be. Interplant your large bulbs, like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, with cold hardy annuals. The resulting look will resemble a gardening magazine spread or public garden display you have admired.

The careful digging that allows you to install a nursery six-pack of hardy annual transplants won’t disturb large bulbs, which should be plantedMORE 4-8 inches deep. Plant the annuals as soon as they are offered in your nursery, as you should already see green foliage tips emerging from the bulbs. Try these four planting partners this spring:

  • Tulips and primroses
  • Hyacinths and pansies
  • Daffodils and scented stock
  • Dutch iris and sweet alyssum
    Azaleas


    Chris Parrfitt

    When creating a flowering landscape, follow the garden design principle of starting with trees, then shrubs, then plants. Shrubs not only give the garden texture and dimension, many offer reliable spring flowers for sunny or shady situations. Azaleas herald the arrival of spring in many southern gardens, and forsythia does the same in temperate climates. If the thought of a plain green shrub amidst your flowers doesn’t thrill you, choose a shrub that displays bright berries after its flowersMORE fall, like viburnum. You can also look for newer cultivars of old favorites that have variegated foliage, like daphne ‘Marginata’ in warm climates or elderberry ‘Madonna’ in cold climates.

  • Daffodils and Primroses


    Mickmft/ Flickr

    When you include flowering containers in your spring garden, you can get earlier blooms in your garden than when you plant in the ground. You can bring small hanging baskets into a shed or garage when temperatures plummet at night, and even large containers can move to a sheltered area if you employ planters on casters. Some of the most beloved container plants thrive in cool spring temperatures, including snapdragons, petunias, and annual lobelia. These cool season annuals are at theirMORE flowering peak when daytime temperatures are in the 70s. Other container flowers, like viola and nasturtium, can tolerate early spring frosts.

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    Crocus Lawn


    Amanda Slater

    Planting bulbs under a lawn doesn’t take any special skill; the most important care tip for naturalizing flower bulbs in a lawn is to delay mowing until the bulb foliage matures. Therefore, choose the earliest blooming bulbs to plant, unless you don’t mind letting your grass grow as long as strappy bulb foliage. Crocus bulbs are the most commonly grown flowers in a lawn, but you can also try snowdrops or iris reticulata. Slice your sod with a sharp spade, and plant groups of bulbs at least threeMORE inches below the soil surface.

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    Snowdrop Flowers


    Matt Cardy/Getty Images

    The colder the climate, the more anxious gardeners are for signs of spring in the landscape. Planting very early bloomers can make you feel like you’ve cheated part of winter, because these hardy bulbs may begin to bloom when the holiday decorations are just coming down. These petite flowers don’t make much of a statement when planted in groups of a dozen or less, but the low price of the so-called minor bulbs makes a planting of a hundred or more affordable.

    The common snowdrop, GalanthusMORE nivalis, sports dainty white bell-shaped flowers on six-inch stalks. They bloom as early as January, and naturalize easily in an undisturbed spot. If white flowers are lost in your snowy garden, consider the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, which produce bright yellow flowers atop a ruffled collar of green foliage. Finally, glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa luciliae, produces masses of blue, pink, or white star-shaped flowers to satisfy your pastel flower cravings.