If you just can't wait for spring and all the beautiful flowers that come with it, consider planting some early blooming flowers. While most varieties of flowers bloom in late spring and early summer, some plants bloom early so you can enjoy the sights and scents even sooner.
Enjoying flowers at the beginning of spring is possible if you know what flowers bloom in early spring and late winter. From colorful annuals to resilient perennials, there are many options when it comes to getting a jump start on your garden.
Early Blooming Annuals
Annuals come and go with the growing season, but you can extend that season by planting a mixture of early bloomers along with your other annuals.
Pansies are a cool season annual that prefer the milder conditions of early spring or fall, depending on your growing zone. Varieties like the 'Sunrise' pansy do best when planted for an early spring bloom, as the summer heat will cause the flowers to fade out. You can start seeds indoors or transplant garden-ready plants after heavy frost has passed in your area.
Snapdragons are another excellent annual that prefer cooler temperatures and will bloom in spring before dying back in the summer heat. They also last a long time as cut flowers, so you can bring a bouquet in and continue to enjoy the blooms even when the heat sets in. Similar to snapdragons are sweet peas, which feature brilliant pops of color and an incredible, sweet fragrance.
While violas are technically perennials, they prefer cooler temperatures and typically die out when the summer heat sets in and will need replanting. You can transplant varieties like 'Johnny-Jump Up' viola as early as the end of January, depending on where you live.
If you're looking to invite pollinators to your yard as early as possible, alyssum's fragrant mass of blooms is a perfect choice. These do best in areas with relatively cool summers and will continue to bloom until fall. Cornflower and calendula are also excellent choices for regions with milder summers and will both bloom early and long under the right conditions.
Early Blooming Perennials
Perennials can take some time to cultivate, but in the end, they provide a beauty that returns year after year. Many perennials are cold-hardy, and by planting the right mixture in your garden, you can enjoy blooms from late winter through the summer and into fall.
Hellebores (aka Christmas or Lenten roses) are one of the most common early blooming flowers. Coming in several different colors and sizes, these winter-blooming flowers provide much-needed interest in late winter and early spring. Dusty pinks and creamy whites are the predominant flower colors held above dark-green leaves, which stay above ground most of the year. Hellebores are also hardy, withstanding even zone 4 winters.
The unique heart-shaped blooms of the dicentra make an excellent companion to hellebores. This elegant herbaceous perennial blooms early and long, depending on your climate, and can last into early summer until the hottest temperatures set in. It will grow best in shady, humid gardens in zones 3 through 9.
Bergenia is another beautiful early blooming perennial that enjoys some shade. It also features large glossy leaves that provide plenty of appeal long after the blooms are gone.
If you're looking for an early bloom that loves the sun, creeping phlox is an excellent choice. Often used as ground cover, the multitude of star-shaped flowers in pink and white hues add a tremendous pop of color starting as early as April. The hardy plant is also heat and drought tolerant, making it easier to grow.
Early Blooming Bulbs
The crocus is one of the earliest blooming bulbs, with some like the 'Tricolor crocus siberi' bursting through with color even when snow is still falling.
Daffodils are another popular choice as early blooming bulbs. These flowers are easy to cultivate, grow abundantly and are simple to maintain. While they're typically associated with a bright-yellow color, some unique varieties like the 'Pink Mix' daffodil will add a pop of white and pink to your early spring garden.
There's no more well-known early blooming bulb than the tulip. Early blooming double tulips, like the 'Murillo Mix' tulip, will give your garden a gorgeous array of colors and textures starting as early as late February to the middle of June.
If you're hoping for some fragrance to accompany that early bloom, then hyacinths should be on your garden list. 'Blue Pearl' hyacinth will add a blue hue along with an elegant fragrance to welcome the spring.
There's no reason you have to wait for months to enjoy a blooming garden. Planting early blooming flowers alongside your other perennials and annuals will ensure your garden remains filled with color throughout the growing season.
To discover more tips and advice on the best flowers for your garden, check out Burpee's guide to flower gardening.