During a long and dreary winter, it seems next to impossible that your cherished flowerbeds will ever burst into life again. Early spring perennials, however, are precious proof that winter is on its way out; some can even bloom in bright, cheerful colors right through lingering snow. Yet, we frequently forget early spring perennials as we are often overcome with the bold, familiar bulb displays of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and more. This is unfortunate, because many of these perennials have a subtle charm that complement bulbs and shrubs, which bloom in early spring, and they add even more variety, texture, and color to your landscape.
Perennials for Early Spring Blooms
When choosing the best plants to create a stunning early spring display, the USDA Hardiness Zone and the amount of sun or shade the location receives are both critical factors for the plants’ success. However, another, often overlooked, crucial element for plant success is the plants’ soil requirements. Let’s break this down.
For a full to part sun location, opt for…
- Columbine (Aquilegia spp.) Zones: 3 – 9 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained
- Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima) Zones: 4 – 8 Soil: Lean, sandy
- Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis) Zones: 4 – 7 Soil: Sandy well-drained, average fertility
- Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum orientale) Zones: 4 – 8 Soil: Consistently moist but not soggy, humus rich
- Mountain Pinks (Phlox subulate) Zones: 5 – 9 Soil: Rich, evenly moist but well-drained
- Pigsqueak (Bergenia cordifolia) Zones: 3 – 8 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained
- Rockcress (Aubrieta spp.) Zones: 5 – 7 Soil: Sandy, rocky
- Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) Zones: 3 – 8 Soil: Lean, well-drained, gravelly
- Wall Cress (Arabis caucasica) Zones: 4 – 7 Soil: Lean, sandy, or gritty
- Primrose (Primula spp.) Zones: 2 – 8 Soil: Slightly acidic, rich, moist yet well-drained
For a part to full shade location…
- Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) Zones: 4 – 8 Soil: Well-drained, sandy
- Corydalis (Corydalis spp.) Zones: 5 – 7 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained
- Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) Zones: 2 – 9 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained
- Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) Zones: 3 – 8 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained
- Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) Zones: 3 – 8 Soil: Sandy, evenly moist
- Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) Zones: 3 – 8 Soil: Rich, well-drained
- Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis) Zones: 5 – 9 Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained
- Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata) Zones: 3 – 8 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained
- Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) Zones: 5 – 9 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained
- Hellebores (Helleborus spp.) Zones: 3 – 9 Soil: Rich, moist yet well-drained, will tolerate dry soil once established
Planting Early Spring Blooming Perennials
When you choose which early spring bloomers to add to your landscape, consider the plants’ overall mature size, soil requirements and both watering and fertilizing needs to be sure they can reach their full potential. If you choose to plant them in fall, take extra care to protect tender roots and give them time to thoroughly establish themselves before the first hard freeze.
When fall planting your early spring blooming perennials, or when planting them at any other time of the year, it is wise to use Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Builder [Eastern & Midwestern Regions | Western Region]. This exceptional addition to your native soil will help your plants establish, grow, bloom, and thrive to their full potential.
At planting time, fertilize your perennials with Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Starter Food.
This natural and organic fertilizer is formulated to help newly transplanted plants develop strong roots and sturdy growth. It is gentle and non-burning and safe to use with even the most tender early blooming perennial transplants.
It is important to mulch when planting early spring blooming perennials, this will help with weed suppression and soil moisture retention. Be sure to add an additional layer of mulch, once the ground freezes to help protect the new plants through their first winter and to help prevent frost heaving in the spring.
Depending on their size, light, and soil preferences, early spring blooming perennials may be used in flower beds, landscape borders, naturalized in woodland gardens, planted along woodland edges, and more. Be sure to plant a few of your favorites where you’ll have a good view of their exquisiteness from indoors where you’ll be able to enjoy their early blooms even if it’s a bit too cold to be outdoors!
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