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Early Perennial Flowers

By Jay Golberg ; Updated September 21, 2017

Early perennial flowers herald the coming of spring and are a welcome splash of color in the late winter landscape. Perennials are plants that come back every year after declining during the winter months. Early blooming perennials include some bulbs, shrubs, ground covers or flowering plants.

Early Perennial Flowering Bulbs

Perennial flower bulbs can be planted in average, well-drained garden soil. The most impressive flowering bulbs need a chilling period in order to bloom. If given the right conditions they will naturalize or spread over a wide area. After the bulbs decline in early summer and all the foliage has completely died, they can be dug and divided. Examples of early perennial flower bulbs are crocus, tulip, hyacinth, muscari, paperwhites, and daffodils. In the South, jonquils and daffodils that produce a smaller bloom than the giant daffodil varieties naturalize well.

Early Perennial Flowering Ground Covers

Early flowering ground covers work well with spring flowering bulbs as the bulbs come up within them and then die back allowing the ground cover to crowd out weeds during the summer. If needed, prune back ground covers after a bloom period. Examples of early flowering ground covers are Mexican evening primrose, ajuga, lily of the valley, creeping phlox and Mexican dead nettle.

Early Perennial Flowering Shrubs

Early blooming shrubs are often fragrant additions to the garden. Prune early blooming shrubs right after the bloom period because many set their blooms for the next season in summer. Examples are azalea, camellia, forsythia, viburnum, and spicebush.

Other Early Blooming Perennial Plants

Other plants that make a great choice for the early blooming perennial garden are bleeding heart, lenton rose, sweet violet, lupine, and pasque flower.

Landscape Ideas

Plant early flowering perennials among plants that don't reappear until the weather warms. For example, plant hyacinth, tulip or muscari bulbs in the same bed you plant annual flowering plant seeds. The annuals will come up and cover the declining foliage of the flowering bulbs as the season warms.

Also, plant early flowering shrubs under trees that lose their leaves in the winter. The barren trees make an excellent backdrop for early spring blooming shrubs such as azaleas and viburnum.


About the Author


Jay Golberg is a certified Texas nursery professional and professional project manager. He has 30 years of business and farming experience and holds bachelor's degrees in English writing from St. Edward's University and finance from Lamar University.