It can be very exciting to see the winter’s weather fade into the background and spring emerge. Landscape beds have early spring season perennials that are starting to pop. Now is a great time to make note of which perennials, shrubs and trees are early bloomers so you can make planting plans to be the first one blooming next season. Below are some examples of common early spring bloomers. As always, review each species to make sure it is the spring bloomer.
Crocuses are low-growing, colorful, cup-shaped flowers. Because the plants flower so early, crocuses can actually adapt well to planting in lawns and will multiply over time to cover large areas. Select varieties that mature at different times to extend the bloom season. Flower colors include blue, violet, striped, yellow, and white, and height ranges from 3 to 6 inches. While most crocus flower in the spring, the saffron crocus is a fall flowering crocus that is planted in spring. Crocuses are very easy care and low maintenance.
The Victorians revered hyacinths for their sweet, lingering fragrance, similar to that of the familiar Lilac. The flowers are closely packed with tubular-bell-shaped, single or double flowers. As well as growing in the ground, colorful hyacinths are excellent for forcing in containers and some are available for early flowering indoors to get started EXTRA early.
Daffodils are hardy and easy perennials to grow. Their attractive flowers usually bear showy yellow or white flowers with six petals and a trumpet-shape central corona. Leafless stems bear between 1 and 20 flowers! Daffodils are suitable for planting between shrubs or in a border, or for forcing blooms indoors. Daffodil flowers are excellent for cutting.
Tulip bulbs come in virtually all colors, including a purple so deep that it looks black! And by planting a selection of varieties of this perennial, we can enjoy their beauty from early spring through early summer. Tulips do best in areas with dry summers and cold winters – just like our Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Corridor area! The brightly colored, upright flowers may be single or double, and vary in shape from simple cups, bowls, and goblets to more complex forms. They are excellent in beds and borders, many types are good for forcing into bloom indoors, and most are excellent for cut flowers.
Phlox are perennials and a favorite choice among wildflowers. These plants sport many star-shaped, colorful flowers when in bloom. Because there are so many varieties, you can find a type of phlox for almost any garden. They are easy to care for, low maintenance, and carry a wonderful fragrance.
Who doesn’t love lilacs in the spring?! The ideal lilac shrub has about 10 canes and produces flowers at eye-level – all the better to enjoy that sweet, haunting fragrance. Lilacs do come in seven colors but most are familiar with the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris. There are also early, mid and late-spring season blooming lilacs, which, when grown together, ensure a steady bloom for at least 6 weeks. Lilacs are hardy, easy to grow, and low maintenance. They can grow from 5 to 15 feet tall, depending on the variety. The fragrant flowers are good for cutting and attractive to butterflies.
Sunny splashes of bright yellow flowers are forsythia’s calling card, announcing the return of spring. To nurture forsythia’s graceful case shape, careful pruning is required. The toothed leaves will deepen into purple tints just before they drop in late fall. To encourage the best flowering, plant forsythia in full sun and provide plenty of water during the growing season. For a spring spectacle, train forsythia against a warm wall.
The Redbud tree is a relatively small tree with spreading branches and a small short trunk. The tree is one of the earliest flowering trees and is often used to add color to gardens. The purple-pink flowers of the eastern redbud appear all over the tree in early spring. The flowers are even produced on large trunks. Redbud has a yellow fall color and is shade-tolerant.
We hope this is enough inspiration to get you excited for the spring.
Remember, for bulbs, you should go with what you like most, now, so you’re prepared to plant this fall. Happy hunting and happy spring!
Your local professionals at Quality Care, the Nature Care Company in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas are happy to help with any questions you have.
Cedar Rapids area: (319)366-7822
Iowa City area: (319)354-3108
[Revised – original post 4/15/15]