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The Best Early Spring Flowers for a Gorgeous Garden Display

Not sure what to grow for a beautiful spring garden display? Plant some of my favorite spring flowers for an easy-care garden that brings joy with lots of color and interest.

As the long winter days start to fade away, the arrival of spring brings with it a burst of color and beauty in the form of blooming flowers.

After months of cold and gloomy weather, the sight of vibrant flowers pushing through the thawing ground can be incredibly uplifting, filling the air with a sense of warmth and happiness.

From daffodils and tulips to cherry blossoms and dogwoods, spring flowers are nature’s way of announcing the arrival of a new season, a time of renewal and growth. Their bright hues and delicate petals provide a visual feast for the eyes and a reminder that brighter days are ahead.

If you want to create a visually appealing and colorful garden that continually blooms, it’s important to plan ahead and choose the right flowers.

And it’s even more important to choose flowers that are easy to care for so there’s minimal work for you.

In this post, we’ll explore what flowers can provide abundant color early on in the growing season, as well as some cool-season annual flowers that can be added before the last frost date.

There are so many beautiful options out there, but here are some of my favorites.

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How to Plant a Colorful Early Spring Garden

If you’re a gardening enthusiast who eagerly anticipates the arrival of spring, you’re in luck!

One effective strategy to achieve a constantly changing and vibrant display in your garden is by incorporating a diverse mix of early-season flowering annuals, bulbs, perennials, and shrubs.

By mixing it up, something will always be growing, changing, and blooming, which makes it more exciting to walk the gardens.

Follow these tips to grow an easy-care garden that blooms with something new and exciting each day.

close up of tulips at sunset in the porch garden with daffodils near a stone wall

Create an Extended Bloom Period with Spring Flowers

By incorporating a mix of early-season flowering annuals, bulbs, perennials, and shrubs in your garden, you can create a prolonged bloom period that lasts for weeks to months.

Because think about it, if you only grow one type of plant, you are limited in bloom time specific to that variety.

Early-season flowering annuals, such as pansies, violas, and ranunculus can start blooming as early spring, providing a burst of color when other plants are still waking up from their winter slumber.

Spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses, and tulips, also bloom early in the season. When planted in fall, these pretty spring bloomers are no work at all in the spring because they just do their thing.

Planting perennials can provide spring flowers year after year with minimal work for you. Some of my favorites include Hellebores, Myostotis, Virginia Bluebells, Dicentra, and Brunnera.

But don’t overlook the value of flowering shrubs because they make a great visual impact in the landscape too. Look for plants like forsythia, spirea, viburnum and lilacs.

Having a diverse mix of plants with varying bloom times ensures that you’ll have something new blooming in your garden almost every day, creating a visually stunning and ever-changing display.

close up of baby's breath spirea with daffodils
Baby’s breath spirea in full bloom with yellow and white daffodil mix

Plant for Continuous Color

Another benefit of incorporating a variety of early-season flowering plants in your garden is that you can enjoy a wide range of colors and textures throughout the season.

Spring flowering bulbs, annuals, perennials, and shrubs come in a plethora of hues, ranging from bright and bold to soft and pastel, allowing you to create a stunning color palette in your garden.

When planting your garden, carefully select spring flowers and plants with complementary colors and textures so you can create an eye-catching display that evolves as the season progresses, keeping your garden interesting and visually appealing.

front yard garden in spring with flowering crabapple trees
Hellores, ajuga, vinca, ranunculus and flowering crabapples are in bloom

Plant With Diversity

Planting a variety of early-season flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs also promotes plant diversity in your garden.

There has been strong evidence that increasing plant diversity in landscapes helps with attracting pollinators, weed and organic pest suppression, as well as increase crop and forage yield, depending on what you are growing.

Overall, incorporating a range of early-season flowering plants in your garden can contribute to a more balanced and sustainable ecosystem.

Spring Flowers like lenten rose, virginia bluebells and bleeding hearts in the Zen Garden
Different lenten rose varieties in bloom

Create Lots of Garden Interest

Create lots of garden interest and intrigue by adding a mix of early-season spring flowers like annuals, bulbs, perennials, and shrubs to your garden.

As each plant blooms at different times and in different ways, it adds depth and dimension to your garden, making it more visually appealing.

The varying heights, textures, and colors of the plants create a dynamic and ever-changing landscape that can captivate the eye and draw attention to different areas of the garden.

This creates a sense of excitement and curiosity as you explore your garden each day to discover new blooms and appreciate the changing beauty of nature.

daffodils and double flowering tulips blooms in the spring garden
Double-flowering tulips and different varieties of daffodils

Be Creative with Spring Flowers

Get creative and plant a diverse mix of early-season flowering plants in your garden.

With different plants blooming at different times, you have the ability to experiment with different plant combinations, design ideas, and garden themes.

You can create themed areas in your garden, such as a butterfly garden with early-season flowering plants that attract butterflies, or a cottage garden with a mix of annuals, perennials, and shrubs for a relaxed and informal look.

The possibilities are endless.

Zen garden with hellebores and bleeding hearts with japanese maple -10 shade loving plants that bloom
Shade garden with hellebores, dicentra, brunnera and acer

My Favorite Early Spring Flowering Bulbs

Spring flowering bulbs are a fantastic addition to any garden, not only for their stunning display of blooms but also for the minimal effort required from the gardener to achieve a beautiful floral show.

There are lots of beautiful bulbs to choose from that bloom at all different times from very early spring until early summer.

Even the same flower has different varieties with varying bloom times. So you can get an amazing display of color and blooms for an extended time from just one type of flower.

Plant in the Fall for a Stunning Spring Garden Display

What I love most about spring blooming bulbs is that they should be planted in the fall, making them pretty low maintenance for spring. Once the warmer spring temperatures arrive, these bulbs emerge from the ground and bloom without requiring much attention from the gardener.

Another advantage of planting spring flowering bulbs is that they generally come back year after year, providing a reliable source of early-season color in the garden.

(If your spring flowering bulbs failed to bloom or don’t return, you can troubleshoot what happened and how to fix it here.)

The daffodils are in bloom in the front yard garden in zone 6a New Jersey
Daffodils for days

Plus, these bulbs have the ability to survive and thrive in the garden for many years with minimal care. This means that once you plant them, you can enjoy their beautiful blooms year after year without having to replant them annually, saving you money, time, and effort.

In addition to their low-maintenance nature, spring flowering bulbs offer a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from, allowing you to create a truly personalized and stunning floral display in your garden.

From the classic and bold tulips to the cheerful daffodils and the delicate crocuses, there are countless options to suit your aesthetic preferences and garden style. Here are some of my favorite easy-care flowers you should try that bloom early in the growing season.

  • Crocus
  • Daffodils
  • Hyacinths
  • Tulips
  • Grape Hyacinths
Tulips that bloom like peonies -Gardening 101: How to Keep pest and disease problems under control
Double flowering tulips with windflowers
purple crocuses - the first of the 2023 blooms
Purple crocus

Why Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs in the Fall is Important

When it comes to spring flowers, planting bulbs in the fall is key to ensure they bloom at the right time. Plants such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths need a period of chill time during winter to initiate the flowering process.

So it’s important to get them in the ground before winter so they have enough time to get that chill before they bloom in spring. I usually plant mine here in gardening zone 6a in late October.

When planting, keep in mind that bulbs should be planted in well-drained soil and at the appropriate depth. So be sure to follow the specific planting instructions for each type of bulb to ensure optimal results and a stunning spring display.

But what if you didn’t plant them in the fall?

All is not lost because you can easily purchase them in spring at the nursery in full bloom. They will just cost a little more and likely not bloom as long this year.

But the good news is, they should return again next year.

spring garden with daffodils and tulips in porch garden with stone wall at sunset
Spring has sprung in my porch garden at sunset

About Cold Tolerant Annuals that Flower

When spring arrives and the nursery starts stocking up on annuals, some of the first you’ll see are cold-tolerant varieties like pansies and ranunculus.

Cold-tolerant flowering annuals are specially adapted to withstand chillier temperatures, allowing you to plant them before the first frost in fall or early spring.

By doing so, you can get a head start on your spring garden and enjoy early blooms as the weather starts to warm up.

Some popular options for cold-tolerant annual flowers include Pansies, Violas, Snapdragons, Sweet Peas, Larkspur, and Sweet Alyssum, among others.

As an aside, I don’t usually find sweet peas or larkspur at our local nursery, so I start them from seed and they take a bit longer to bloom. For a few years, I started them indoors, but lately, I’ve been winter-sowing both with great success.

Sowing them outdoors has freed up my indoor seed starting space and makes the hardening off process much easier because they are already acclimated to outdoor living.

close up of sweet alyssum in purples and whites
Sweet Alyssum

Cold tolerant annuals are capable of tolerating cooler temperatures, often continuing to bloom even when the weather is still chilly. They come in a variety of colors, providing a splash of vibrancy to your garden during the early spring season.

When selecting cold-tolerant flowering annuals, be sure to check the hardiness rating for your specific zone and choose varieties that are known for their ability to withstand colder temperatures.

While they are generally colder tolerant, a seriously deep freeze can take them out so always keep your eye on the weather so you can cover them with a frost blanket at night if you have to.

close up of purple pansies and violas

My Favorite Early Blooming Perennials

Perennials are an excellent choice for an everblooming, vibrant, and colorful spring garden display. Once established, perennials come back year after year, providing a reliable source of blooms in your garden with minimal work for you. This makes them a great option for busier gardeners that don’t want to replant new every year.

Perennials also come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, allowing you to choose the perfect plants to suit your desired aesthetic and property conditions.

Of course, some are easier than others to grow. Here are some of my favorite easy-care early spring-blooming perennials.

  • Lenten Rose (Hellebores)
  • Myostotis (Forget-Me-Nots)
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Lungwort
  • Epimedium
  • Brunnera
  • Virginia Bluebells
close up of pink hellebores
pink lenten rose hellebore in front of green fence in backyard garden
Pink Lenten Rose

My Favorite Early Blooming Shrubs

Another great way to add early-season color and vibrance is to add flowering shrubs. These shrubs often burst into bloom with showy flowers before the leaves emerge, creating a stunning focal point in your garden.

Flowering shrubs come in a range of colors, from bright yellows to pinks, purples, and whites, adding a burst of vibrancy and visual interest to your garden.

When selecting early spring blooming shrubs, consider factors such as the hardiness for your zone, the mature size of the shrub, and the available space in your garden. Because if you don’t, they will require more pruning and care than you may want to do.

Some of my favorite early-blooming shrubs include:

  • Forsythia
  • Spirea
  • Viburnum
  • Lilac
  • Azalea
  • Rhododendron
  • Ninebark
  • Elderberry
The driveway garden at sunrise with baby's breath spirea and daffodils in bloom

More Spring Flower Garden Ideas

What are your favorite spring flowers? Have you planted these in your garden yet? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

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close up of pink tulips in the garden by a stone wall at sunset

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

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Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites that I regularly use in no particular order.

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The best flowers for early spring include tulips daffodils sweet alyssum pansies and hellebores
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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

About Me

Want to learn more about me?

I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as find ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes too.

Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging.

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