The weather may still be cold and all the trees and shrubs still bare of leaves, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait a few more months for flowers to emerge. Some plants are early risers, waking up from their winter slumber and getting a jump on the season. This article will discuss a few of my favorite perennial plants to use for early spring color.
Some perennials begin to show life as soon as possible in the spring. Crocus are a great choice for a sweep of spring color in parts of your landscape where much else wont grow. In bare corners or in patches between shrubs, these little guys will grow and flourish anywhere they can. Some people even plant crocus in bare corners of their yard to get some color where nothing seems to grow. These quick bloomers don’t have stems and are similar in size and shape to a bunch of grass in a yard. They have unique flowers that grow directly from the ground and thus can be nothing to full bloom in a couple days. Once the flowers taper off the grassy foliage sticks around for a while longer until they sufficiently store enough energy for next year.
A great evergreen perennial that can be a unique choice is Helleborus or commonly called Lenten Rose. These shade loving perennials have 1-2 ft stems of broadleaf leaves that maintain a deep green color all year and are thus ready to go once the weather turns just a bit warm in the spring. They tend to begin their blooming season in late February or March and will bloom all spring in a variety of colors. A great choice for under trees and shady corners, these perennials will be one of the first to show signs of spring every year. Naturalizing from self-seeding, these will spread slowly to fill in areas with great evergreen foliage and spring flowers but will need some maintenance to keep them under control. They may also suffer from tattered leaves if left exposed to cold winter winds for too long. These perennials will preform better in milder winters with more snow, which our winters have tended to be.
A few shrubs that bloom earlier than most others are forsythia and Witchhazel. Both of these shrubs bloom usually in March and will be the first shrubs in the landscape to show some color. These are great shrubs for screens and can be good options if you have the room. Having spread out bloom times on shrubs and perennials will make your landscape beds colorful from early spring to late fall. When designing landscape beds, I always try to have a diverse palette of plants that promote opposite bloom times and make sure no matter what time of year, something should be blooming in your landscape.