The emergence of perennial plants marks the start of another gardening season. And in amongst their very first leaves are the earliest colourful flowers: spring-flowering perennials that sing a cheery song of spring in the garden.
Spring-flowering perennials: so many kinds
They might not be as well-known as summer-flowering perennials, but these early birds offer a huge range to choose from. These kinds of plants let you enjoy your garden even in early spring. What about the pink or purple flowers covering the low, spreading Aubrieta? Suitable for a shady spot is the Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) with its lovely heart-shaped leaves and clouds of tiny sky-blue flowers. And every spring garden has to include primroses such as the Drumstick primrose (Primula denticulata) and the diminutive English primrose (Primula denticulata). A good choice as a strong groundcover with charming white flowers is the perennial violet, Viola sororia ‘Albiflora’. Go take a look at the garden centre sometime to discover many more of these beautiful plants.
Varieties with evergreen leaves are real favourites in the collection of spring-flowering perennials. The yellow-green flowers and purplish leaves of Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ make it an eye-catcher. The Evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) is completely smothered in white flowers in the spring. Bergenias are covered with large glossy leaves and start producing clusters full of white or pink flowers in March.
Picking the best spot
The first plants to bloom deserve a conspicuous spot in the spring garden, so that you can enjoy their colourful flowers to the utmost. Low-growing varieties are perfect to plant at the front of the border or maybe in a bed near the front door. Combine spring-flowering perennials with other perennials or plant them near flower bulbs, elegant foliage plants and spring-flowering shrubs.
Spring-flowering perennials also put on a beautiful show in pots, containers and baskets. Fill a generously sized pot with Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripes’), Evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) or Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis). Pots full of early-flowering perennials on a garden table or patio don’t keep you waiting to start enjoying that wonderful feeling of springtime.
Planting and care
The first weeks of spring are the best time to plant the earliest-flowering perennials in the garden. Now is the time to select the most beautiful varieties at the garden centre or from a grower and then plant them straightaway in the garden or pots. Carefully loosen the roots a little before planting, tamp them in well, and give them a drink immediately. Then stand back and watch them grow! All of these varieties can easily tolerate cold weather. The nice thing about perennials is that they return year after year – like nice long visits from dear old friends.
Good to know
- Many early-flowering perennials make excellent groundcovers. Good examples are Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia), Barrenwort (Epimedium x perralchicum), Lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor) and Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata). A thick layer of evergreen leaves keeps weeds from becoming established in the garden.
- Bees and bumblebees may not forage during the winter, but they start out again early in the spring. The bountiful nectar and pollen offered by early-flowering perennials get these beneficial insects off to a good start.