Spring is the gardeners’ golden season. The ground is thawing, the trees have buds and the bulbs are yearning to bloom. Learn which plants to put in the ground now so you’ll have gorgeous blooms all season long. Some will give you color throughout summer, well into fall.
Plant any of the following in the spring to enjoy a colorful yard with dazzling flowers that really put on a show. You can’t go wrong when you choose these bright-blooming plants.
Sunflowers – With the sunniest deep hues of yellow and dotted black centers, sunflowers can be planted as soon as any danger of the last frost has passed, in most areas. Different varieties will grow different heights and sized-blooms, but these no-fuss plants are showstoppers in the garden, needing little more than regular watering and full sun. Sunflowers will start to bloom around August each year.
Lilac – Known for their distinct, sweet scent and lovely lavender cone-shaped clustered blooms, lilac is a garden charmer. They grow into tall shrubs, and the early spring blooms are prized for cut arrangements. Lilac needs a cold winter environment to do well in the spring and at least 6 hours of sun a day during spring and summer months. It is a tough plant and will thrive for years, sometimes even decades with minimal care.
Bluebell – Bluebell does best when planted in the fall, but it will still bloom (although not quite as impressively) when planted in early spring. These perennial bulbs will produce delicate bell-shaped drooping blooms in white, blue or the rare pink hues. They will bloom between mid-April and late May are tolerant of many growing conditions.
Snowdrop – Known for the ability to bloom even through a snow-covered ground, snowdrop’s slender leafy foliage is grass-like and each bulb produces one single white bloom that daintily droops in a bell shape. Snowdrop is one of the first spring bulbs to bloom, so if you want an early show, it is a good option. Plant in the fall in partial sun and be aware that while it will be one of the first to bloom, it will go dormant by early summer.
Spring Snowflake – Almost identical in looks to snowdrops, spring snowflakes will bloom a few weeks after snowdrops do. Another easy-to-grow option with minimal care needed, spring snowflakes grow to be about 10” tall and their bloom stalk will grow just a couple inches taller. Drooping bell-shaped flowers will bloom in either full sun or partial shade, making this versatile bulb a favorite of many spring gardeners. Plant in the fall and once spring arrives, keep soil moist.
While many bulbs need the cold of winter’s ground to produce an abundance of blooms in the spring, there are a handful of plants that can go in the ground in the spring months.
Oriental Lily – Oriental lilies should be planted early spring. They like soil that is below 60 degrees in order to root properly. Known for their unique, strong scent and bright bold petals, lilies are slow growing and will bloom mid-late summer.
Dahlia – Because they’re tender tubers, Dahlia’s do not need to be planted until spring, when the danger of frost has passed. Once planted, they require minimal care and will produce abundant blooms all summer long. Plant where they’ll get full morning sun with afternoon shade and be sure to water regularly.
Gladiolus – Plant gladiolus about two weeks before the last frost in your area. Tall flower spikes in rich colors will grow continuously if you space planting every two weeks from spring through summer. Gladiolus like full sun and well-drained soil.
Blazing Star – Blazing star bulbs can go in the ground as soon as it is thawed. They will bloom late summer through fall when planted in full sun. Flowers in rose, white or purple look similar to feather boas with spiky green foliage along the stalks.
If you want spring blooms that will return in years to come, take care to plant perennials that will offer many seasons of beauty after this season is long gone.
Primrose – Primrose is one of the earliest spring flowers to bloom, and it will return year after year. It can start blooming even when the ground is still frozen, making it a favorite for gardeners living in areas with extreme cold winters. Primrose will produce clusters of blooms that trumpet out, most often in shades of pale yellow, although they are available in ranges of colors from white to deep red.
Violet – Violets can be grown as either annuals or perennials, but wild violets self-seed and come back every year. While the classic purple or violet color is a sure sign of a violet, they are also available in a variety of colors like blue, white, yellow and cream. Plant any time in the spring in partial shade and enjoy the pretty, delicate blooms year-round in the right conditions.
Baby’s Breath – Baby’s breath grows well in beds and borders and produces tiny white clusters of flowers that thrive in full sun to partial shade. It will bloom profusely for a long period during the summer and should be planted early spring.
False Indigo – Striking tall spears with true blue blooms, false indigo is no fuss and easy to maintain. Dense clusters of flowers will grow 3 – 4’ tall and will eventually put on an impressive show, as long as you’re patient for the delicate clusters of deep blue blooms to be in abundance. Note that indigo may not flower profusely for several years. While you can plant in full sun to part shade, it does best with more sun.
Bleeding Heart – Bleeding heart can be planted in spring through early summer. It likes part shade and needs well-drained soil. It needs very little maintenance other than consistent moisture, making it a spring favorite.
Oriental Poppy – Delicate papery looking flowers make the Oriental poppy a garden stunner. Grow in a variety of colors and enjoy the blooms in early summer, year after year. Poppies like a full day of sun and will not bloom well in part shade.
Hyacinth – Bulbs that produce 2 – 3” stalks with striking tightly packed bright flowers about an inch long. Hyacinth is known for its intense scent and having an impressive up-to-100 blooms on each stalk. It can grow in either full sun or partial shade, though it will do best when it gets more sun each day. Plant bulbs late autumn, well before the ground freezes to give roots a chance to establish. Hyacinth needs a cold, frozen dormant period to bloom in the spring.
Iris – Pretty, showy, 3 large outer bluish purple or white petals with 3 more smaller petals in the center are the telling sign of an iris. They like full sun and well-drained soil and are easy to maintain. The blooms are short-lived, but well worth it.
Tulip – The no fuss low maintenance tulip is another spring classic. Bright colors with bluish green foliage flower early spring and will grow to about 10 – 20” in height. They are great for containers or in the ground and make lovely cut flowers for spring arrangements.
Daffodil – These iconic yellow trumpet-shaped blooms are the epitome of spring. They grow 6 – 12” tall with a single deep yellow to orangish bloom. They are known to be deer, rabbit and drought tolerant. Daffodils thrive in partial to full sun and when planted in groups during the fall, put on quite a show in spring.
Yellow Corydalis – Yellow corydalis forms mounds of fern-type foliage and will bloom small yellow trumpet-shaped, short spurred tubular flowers. Corydalis has a long bloom period and will produce flowers from May through September. Plant in part to full shade.
When to plant spring flowers depends on the type of flower you want to grow, when you want it to bloom and what zone you live in. Every plant will have its own needs in terms of how cold the ground should be and how long before its blooming season it should go in the ground. Bulbs that bloom in the spring, like daffodils and tulips, should be planted in fall. Summer-blooming bulbs like gladiolus and dahlias don’t need to go into the ground until spring.
Each plant has its own needs in terms of how much water it should get. A good baseline is 1” of water a week, including rain water, but be sure to check the needs of individual flowers and specific watering needs. This is important for both planting and growing. For example, you do not want to plant drought tolerant plants that need minimal water in the same area as plants that need to have consistently moist soil.
When to fertilize spring bulbs and flowers is a debated topic in the world of spring gardening. Paying attention to the specific directions for your seed, bulb or seedlings is the best way to know the particular needs for feeding spring flowers in your garden.
Spring flowers can bloom and last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Longer flowering perennials that will return year after year include bleeding hearts and dahlias.
Spring is a time of rebirth, warmth and color. Let nature take the lead this year and plant flowers that will give a fresh outlook after a long cold winter.
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