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Favorite Early Spring Bloomers

February 21, 2017

With some thoughtful planning, you can have all the colors of spring right in your own yard.  In this article, we are happy to introduce you to some favorite early spring blooming plants.  Choose your favorites and make your yard come to life with spectacular color in spring!

Bulbs

If you are looking for a burst of color from bulbs in the spring, be sure to plan ahead.  Your spring blooming bulbs will be purchased and planted in the fall.  A good time to start planting is usually late October.  You do not want to start too early as our weather in the south tends to stay pretty warm in the early fall season.  Most of your bulb planting should be completed by Thanksgiving.  There are many species to choose from with the favorites being crocus, daffodils, and tulips.

Crocuses are one of the first signs of spring.  Spring varieties start popping from the ground in late winter and early spring, usually before anything else is in flower.  Most are just 3 to 5 inches in height and are just delightful.  When planted in mass, they make a brilliant show of color.  You will love the variety of colors to choose from including white, yellow, blue, purple, and bi-colored varieties.

Shortly after the crocuses have splashed the ground with color you will see the next joy of spring.  Daffodils, also know as narcissus, are among the most reliable and hardy of bulbs in the south.  Their bitter taste repels rodents, so you do not have to worry about deer or voles with these bulbs.  There are many varieties to choose from with different bloom times which enable you to have lasting color from February through April and sometimes May.

Tulips are another favorite bulb for the spring garden.  They are available in almost any color except for true blue and true black.  Many multi-colored forms also exist.  Tulips grow best in regions with long winters, so they are not quite as hardy here in the south as the daffodils are.  In the south, they usually have their greatest show of color their first year in bloom.

Crocuses, daffodils and tulips are among the favorites, but there are many other spring blooming bulb varieties that will add excitement to your spring garden.  Another great feature with bulbs is that you can enjoy them just as much in containers as you can in the ground.  You will find them available to purchase usually sometime in September.  Remember to shop and plant in the fall and also use a good fertilizer when planting, such as Bulb-Tone.

Annuals

Spring is still a great time to keep your garden and containers colorful with pansies and snap dragons.

Purple and Yellow Pansy

Pansies will keep shining until mid-April.  Ideal conditions are 70 degree days and cooler temperatures at night.

Snap dragons will also provide a burst of color in early spring.  That is when you will find them in the garden center along with other spring annual favorites.

Perennials

There are so many perennials that will delight you with color in spring.  You will know spring is well on its way when you see creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) trailing over curb sides while driving through town.  This favorite is a low growing perennial usually forming mats of color up to 6 inches in height.  It likes to be grown in full sun areas, has evergreen foliage and flowers that range in color from whites, pinks and lavender blues.

Phlox can be used to create carpets of brilliant color in rock gardens, on banks, along curb-sides, and along sunny walkways.  Most people prefer to purchase phlox in the spring when it is blooming.  This ensures that they will get just the right color for their spring garden.  You will find the biggest selection of creeping phlox at Fairview Garden Center usually starting in March (weather dependent) right thought the spring season when it is in full bloom.  Although it is fine to plant in the spring, fall is also a great time to plant creeping phlox.  This will enable the plant to get a head start so you can enjoy the color in your garden the following spring.  Phlox is also available in the fall, but you will find the greater selection in spring.

Creeping phlox is just one favorite spring blooming perennial.  Among others are columbine (Aquilegia), candytuft (Iberis), and cheddar pinks (Dianthus).

These varieties are all sun loving perennials.  Some spring favorites for shady areas are bergenia, lily of the valley (Convallaria), bleeding heart (Dicentra), spotted dead nettle (Lamium), and lungwort (Pulmonaria).

Shrubs

Spring is the season to shine for shrubs.  Starting in March, shrubs are the showstoppers of the garden until the summer months, when annuals and perennials are king.  Forsythia is a common shrub in our landscapes that has as many names as it does forms.  Also know as golden bells or yellow bells, Forsythia is a deciduous shrub that can reach sizes anywhere between two feet by two feet to large shrubs of greater than 10 feet in height and width.

It is easy to see where the name “golden bells” comes from when Forsythia flowers.  Early March typically brings an absolutely beautiful display of rich yellow flowers from ground up.  Much like golden bells, bridal wreath spiraea (Spiraea prunifolia) has been a common plant in North Carolina gardens for many years.  Bridal wreath is another large deciduous shrub that flowers in the early spring months.

These plants can achieve heights and widths of eight feet, which makes the dazzling floral show impressive in the garden.  The small white flowers are tightly massed up and down the flexible branches of the shrub, somewhat resembling baby’s breath.  Bridal wreath and golden bells planted near one another creates a lovely color and texture contrast.

Trees

Two of our more popular early flowering trees are redbuds and saucer magnolias.  Redbud (Cercis sp.) is a small native tree that is one of the first to bloom in the spring.  Commonly seen in the garden or in the wild, the first of the flowers start to appear in early March.

The dark purple flowers are small in size and strange in shape, but are quite numerous.  The flowers are also edible.  Their color can help brighten salads and contain a healthy dose of vitamin C.  Large, heart shaped leaves follow the flowers and add interest through out the summer and fall seasons.  There are now purple and golden foliage cultivars available.  Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) is another small deciduous tree that tends to flower early in the landscape………so early that the flowers can be prone to frost damage.  Saucer magnolia or tulip tree as it is sometimes known, has large tulip shaped purple, white, or yellow flowers that can completely cover the tree at their peak.

Several warm days during the month of February can influence the saucer magnolias to flower, leaving them defenseless to sudden drops in temperature.  Frost damage to flowers will not be detrimental to the overall health of the plant, it just shortens the flowering period of the plant during that season.  This would not deter me from planting one in my garden.  Saucer magnolias are beautiful when in full flower.

There is a little taste of spring for you!  There are so many wonderful plants that we could continue to talk about, but we will keep it short.  Spring is one of our favorite seasons here at Fairview for that reason.  Winter is ending, it is warm outside, we are feeling good and Fairview is bursting with full color…It just feels great!!!  It is the perfect time to stop by and enjoy all the colors and feelings of spring!

Happy Gardening!