Long before the official first day of spring, we are all looking for those first signs that spring has sprung. If you don’t have these early spring bloomers, then you’re probably pretty disappointed when you look out at your landscape for that first burst of spring color. Here’s a short list of some plants that bloom early in the spring and will give you hope that, yes winter is really coming to an end.
If you have a lawn then you probably recognize the showy yellow flowers of the Forsythia as one of the first signs of spring, as it’s your signal to apply your Step 1 fertilizer. This deciduous shrub, that reaches a height of 6 to 8 feet at maturity, does best when planted in full sun. Forsythia is a versatile shrub that works well as a hedge, or specimen in the landscape. Plant in a rich, well-draining soil and fertilize with Espoma Plant-Tone.
Star Magnolia: Magnolia stellata
A deciduous, flowering tree that can reach a height of 15’ at maturity, Star Magnolias provide gorgeous, fragrant, showy white to light pink flowers in the early spring. Does best when planted in full sun, but will tolerate areas with part shade. We recommend planting in a rich, well-draining soil in a location where it will be protected from strong winds, and fertilizing with Espoma Plant-Tone.
Flowering Quince: Chaenomeles
This deciduous shrub is a showy spring bloomer, with flowers that range from pink to red in color (depending on the variety). Its height and width ranges from 6 to 10 feet, and it prefers full sun to partial shade. Although Flowering Quince are drought tolerant once established, it is best to plant in a rich well-draining soil. Due to its dense growth habit, Flowering Quince works great as a hedge plant, and shelter for wild birds.
A couple of our favorite Flowering Quince varieties are Toyo-Nishiki (Chaenomeles japonica 'Toyo-Nishiki'), which features a combination of reddish, pink and white flowers, and Cameo (Chaenomeles japonica 'Cameo'), that has gorgeous soft apricot-pink blooms.
With its gorgeous bright purple blooms that contrast beautifully against its dark green foliage, it’s easy see why PJM Rhododendrons are a perennial favorite for early spring color. This durable evergreen shrub prefers part shade and will grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet with a slightly larger spread. As an evergreen, PJM Rhododendrons will do best when planted in acidic soil that is rich in organic matter, and we recommend fertilizing with Espoma Holly-Tone.
Japanese Andromeda: Pieris japonica
This broadleaf, evergreen shrub features lush foliage that emerges as orange-bronze, or in the case of the ‘Mountain Fire’ variety a fiery red, before maturing into a deep green, serving as the perfect backdrop for gorgeous, dropping clusters of white, pink or red flowers. Japanese Andromeda is a slow grower that prefers to be planted in the shade, as too much sun can make Pieris susceptible to Lacewing damage, and will reach a height of 6 to 10 feet at maturity, depending on the variety. Yakushimanum hybrids like, ‘Cavatine,’ will only grow to be about 2’ with a slightly wider width. Plant in a well-draining, acidic soil that is rich in organic matter, and fertilize with Espoma Holly-Tone. Much like Rhododendrons, the root system of Japanese Andromeda is fibrous and shallow, so they always benefit from being mulched.