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Early Blooming Flowers: What to plant for Early Spring Blooms

Gardeners in cold climates can still enjoy colorful flowers in the garden as early as March and even February in some areas, even when there is still snow on the ground. How early certain bulbs, perennials and shrubs will bloom varies from one zone to the next, and even on the location within your own garden (depending on sun, shelter, etc.). The following list is by no means exhaustive, but will give you ideas for some early bloomers that are good bets for producing flowers in late winter and early spring.

EARLY BLOOMING BULBS
Plant these tiny early risers in the fall for late winter/early spring blooms. They will bloom well before your daffodils and tulips.

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa gigantea)
Flower: Blue, Pink, or White
Height: approx. 4 inches

Siberian Squill ( Scilla sibirica)
Flower: Blue or White
Height: approx. 5 inches

Snow Crocus (Crocus chrysanthus)
Flower: White, Gold, Blue or Purple
Height: approx. 4 inches

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)
Flower: White
Height: approx. 4 inches

Winter Aconite (Eranthus Hyemalis)
Flower: Yellow
Height: approx. 4 inches

EARLY BLOOMING PERENNIALS
As soon as the snow melts (and sometimes even earlier) these hardy perennials spring into action.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectablis, D. eximia, D. formosana)
Flower: Red, Pink, or White
Height: varies with species
Hardy to Zone 3
Full shade to Partial Sun

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Flower: White
Height: 6 to 8 inches
Hardy to Zone 4
Full Shade to Partial Sun

Primrose (Primula denticulata, P. vulgaris, P. veris)
Flower: White, Pink, Yellow, or Purple
Height: 8 to 12 inches
Hardy to Zone 5
Full Shade to Partial Sun

Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)
Flower: White, Pink, or Purple
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Hardy to Zone 4
Full Shade to Partial Sun

Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
Flower: White or Purple
Height: 8 to 12 inches
Hardy to Zone 4
Full Sun

Sweet Violet (Viola odorata)
Flower: Blue, Purple, or Pink
Height: 6 to 8 inches
Hardy to Zone 4
Full Shade to Partial Sun

EARLY BLOOMING SHRUBS
For reliable, early blooms in large quantity, many of these early flowering shrubs are as colorful as they are fragrant.

Forsythia (Vermont Sun) (Forsythia mandschurica)
Flower: Yellow
Height: 6 to 8 feet
Hardy to Zone 4
Full Sun

Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)
Flower: White
Height: 3 to 5 feet
Hardy to Zone 5
Full Sun to Partial Shade

Rhododendron (Cornell Pink) (Rhododendron mucronulatum)
Flower: Pink
Height: 3 to 5 feet
Hardy to Zone 4
Full Sun to Partial Shade

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Flower: Yellow
Height: 6 to 10 feet
Hardy to Zone 5
Full Sun to Partial Shade

Spring Heath (Springwood Pink & Springwood White) (Erica carnea)
Flower: Pink or White
Height: 8 to 12 inches
Hardy to Zone 5
Full Sun to Partial Shade

White Forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum)
Flower: White
Height: 3 to 5 feet
Hardy to Zone 4
Full Sun to Partial Shade

I hope the above listed bulbs, perennials, and shrubs will give you ideas about how to get started with your late winter/early spring garden. There are many more varieties of early-blooming plants, and this list is just meant to give you a push in the right direction. Of course, these plants all need to be in the ground before winter comes, so there is some advance planning involved. The important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to wait for the daffodils and tulips before you see some flowers in your garden to welcome the return of spring.

More Flower Gardening Articles
Early Blooming Flowers: What to plant for Early Spring Blooms


How to Plant a Flower Bulb Garden

Tips for Creating a Fragran Flower Garden