By Lou Paun
Every gardener makes a list of spring flowers during the dark days of winter, looking forward eagerly to the first burst of spring color. The first days of spring will arrive at different times depending on where you live, but the sequence of bloom is similar in most places. With that in mind, watch for these favorites in your own garden or in the garden next door. Spring flowers tend to be those that grew and stored energy in the previous growing season, then went dormant during cold weather. Scientists are still exploring the mystery of how bulbs, shrubs, perennials, and biennials know when to bloom in the spring!
A List of Spring Flowers for Late Winter or Early Spring
While some gardeners can enjoy year-round blooms, this list of spring flowers is the very beginning of spring in most areas. Experienced gardeners often create vignettes in one area to make the most of this early color — for example, planting a pool of winter aconite at the feet of a witch hazel.
- Winter Aconite: These pale yellow blooms might be considered insignificant later in the year, but they are a joyous sight when they push through the snow!
- Witch Hazel: These shrubs are a wonderful yellow in the early spring garden. Some cultivars bloom red.
- Crocus: The earliest varieties, such as Crocus chrysanthus, Crocus sieberi, and Crocus tommasinianus, bloom through the snow. These are the small crocus, usually flowering in shades of purple or yellow.
- Hellebore: These are often known by common names such as Christmas Rose and Lenten Rose in areas with mild winters.
- Camellia: These beautiful shrubs have lovely blossoms in winter in mild climates or early spring in slightly harsher areas.
- Snowdrop: This is another early bulb that sometimes blooms even through the snow.
- Chionodoxa: This is commonly called Glory of the Snow. These pale blue flowers bloom as the snow melts.
A List of Spring Flowers for Early Spring Bloom
Early spring brings rain, mud, and more flowers. Look for these favorites.
- Daffodil: The earliest Narcissi appear now, especially small cultivars like Tete-a-Tete.
- Iris Reticulata: The large iris are a summer pleasure, but this small beauty is an early spring treasure.
- Forsythia: This is a shrub that screams “Springtime!”
- Scilla: These small bulbs produce wonderful blue and purple blossoms.
- Anemone: The blanda species produces pale blue and white starry blossoms for the spring garden.
- Pussy Willow: Salix discolor and Salix caprea were standards in Grandmother’s garden, but new varieties have larger and more strongly-colored catkins to delight today’s gardeners.
A List of Mid-Spring Flowers
- Daffodil: These are the glory of the mid-spring blossoms. Large, late varieties like King Alfred and Mount Hood are brilliant even on rainy days.
- Tulip: On everyone’s list of spring flowers, these are starting their long period of bloom in mid-spring.
- Rhododendron and azaleas: Both are just starting their springtime display.
- Muscari: Often planted with daffodils and tulips, they hug the ground beneath those taller flowers.
- Redbud trees: Their branches are outlined with wonderful pink blooms before their leaves appear.
- Dogwood trees: These are breathtaking in the spring garden.
- Magnolia Tree: The star magnolia, Magnolia stellata, is the first to bloom.
- Trillium: Just one of the many wildflowers that bloom before the large trees are fully leafed out.
- Ornamental forms of Cherry and Crabapple trees are beautiful in mid-spring.
- Hyacinths: These spring flowers bring scent as well as color to the spring garden.
- Primrose: Jewels in the spring garden, Primula veris (Cowslip) and Primula vulgare (Common primrose) are the best known, but you will find many varieties are available in garden centers.
A List of Late Spring Flowers
- Tulip: They will bloom all through spring. Full-blossomed forms like parrot tulips and peony tulips are usually the last to bloom.
- Magnolia Tree: Magnolia x soulangiana, the saucer magnolia, is a beautiful late spring bloomer.
- Lilac: These shrubs fill the late spring garden with scent and color.
- Spiraea: These shrubs are an old-fashioned favorite.
- Peonies: These shrubs carry the garden from late spring into summer.
- Allium: Somewhat prosaically called ‘flowering onion’, their bloom is spectacular.
- Wood Anemone: Always lovely in the wilderness garden.
- Jack in the Pulpit: This wildflower is a favorite in spring.