8 Early-Blooming Flowers for Spring

These pretty perennials are the first to pop up in spring.

Get the jump on the growing season this year with these pretty perennials that are the first to pop up in spring. Because these flowers are the first to unfurl each year, they’re often past their prime by early summer. Plant other late-blooming perennials nearby so that your garden is alive with colorful petals later in the year. (Read more: Top 10 Year-Round Perennials)

On the Wild Side

Many of the earliest bloomers are native wildflowers that grow along roadsides or in woodlands. Although they would make excellent additions to your garden, it is illegal to take flower cuttings from public land. Lucky for home gardeners, some wildflowers (and many on this list) are available commercially—a quick Google search will produce several reputable retailers.

5 More Ways to Kick Off the Gardening Season in Spring

  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs, including blue spirea, summersweet and rose of Sharon, to encourage bushy growth and masses of nectar-laden blooms. (Read more: Top 10 Flowering Shrubs)
  • Inspect the trees and shrubs in your yard for overwintering pests. Removing egg masses of eastern tent caterpillars, gypsy moths and other voracious insects can greatly reduce plant damage without the use of chemicals—a major goal for any wildlife gardener.
  • Remove and compost plant debris that stayed in the garden over winter. The birds have likely picked the seed heads clean.
  • Prepare the soil and plant annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that will attract wildlife. Include those that offer food as well as shelter.
  • Scour garden centers for plants birds, butterflies and bees love. (Read more: Top 10 Plants for Bees and Other Pollinators)
photo credit: Courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

1. Hellebore

Helleborus orientalis, Zones 4 to 9

Hellebore’s cup-shaped blossoms are a welcome sight after a long winter. The white or cream-colored blooms appear as early as February or March, and then turn rose-purple with time. Plant groups of hellebores under backyard trees or shrubs—they thrive in and appreciate the shade.

Why we love it: Hellebore blooms last for eight to 10 weeks. Then evergreen foliage steals the show with its year-round appeal.

What a Gem!: Ruffled yellow blooms outlined in red make this Amber Gem hellebore a real stunner. Blooms last for more than four weeks, and they are great in bouquets.

photo credit: Courtesy of Proven Winners

2. Rock cress

Arabis caucasica, Zones 4 to 7

Nestle rock cress in a sunny spot within a rock garden and dainty white blooms will cascade and spread up to 2 feet. It tolerates drought conditions. Give this short-and-sweet ground cover a haircut after it has finished blooming so it looks tidy for the rest of the growing season.

Why we love it: Fragrant flowers that bloom from April to May attract bees and other beneficial pollinators to your backyard.

photo credit: Courtesy of Proven Winners

3. Candytuft

Iberis sempervirens, Zones 3 to 9

Just like its name, this plant is a real treat! Get ready for a carpet of pure white or pink blooms, perfect for borders, rock gardens or containers. Candytuft grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Why we love it: Flower clusters bloom from March or April right into summer. Dark green evergreen foliage provides interest the rest of the year.

photo credit: Mary Terriberry/Shutterstock

4. Spring beauty

Claytonia virginica, zones 3 to 8

Come April, white flowers with light or dark pink stripes on 6-inch stems pop up in woodlands. In your yard, grow this pretty perennial in rock gardens or in meadows.

Why we love it: The tubers that grow underground are edible. Most people eat the chestnut-flavored tubers like they do potatoes.

photo credit: Paul Reeves Photography/Shutterstock

5. Bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis, Zones 3 to 9

Bloodroot, a native wildflower, thrives in moist woodlands. This white bloom gets its name from the red liquid that oozes out of the root when it’s cut. In the garden, plant bloodroot in a space where it can naturalize. Pay attention, though! The 2-inch  bright white blooms last for only a few days.

Why we love it: It adds a lot of life to a shady space, and it’s super easy to grow.

photo credit: Walters Gardens Inc.

6. Creeping phlox

Phlox subulata, Zones 3 to 9

Creeping phlox is a smaller, low-growing hearty relative of the familiar fragrant perennial. When the creeping variety bursts into bloom in March, it forms a cascading spread of little flowers, making it a lovely choice for rock gardens, slopes and flower bed borders. Grow it in full sun and trim back after it blooms.

Why we love it: The showy, star-shaped flowers attract butterflies.

The 411 on Phlox: Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) also known as moss phlox, is a spreading ground cover. Its close relative, woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) stands almost a foot taller, blooms a little later and has super fragrant flowers.

photo credit: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock

7. Marsh marigold

Caltha palustris, Zones 3 to 7

Marsh marigold thrives in wet, swampy areas, such as the edge of a pond or water garden. Despite its name, it’s not related to marigolds at all. It’s a member of the buttercup family, which makes sense when you catch a glimpse of the shiny, buttery-yellow flowers.

Why we love it: Deer tend to steer clear of this beauty.

photo credit: Walters Gardens Inc.

8. Bleeding heart

Dicentra spectabilis, Zones 3 to 9

Delicate foliage and long-lasting heart-shaped blooms make this an early spring favorite. Because it peaks before other plants, grow bleeding heart in the back of a garden bed, so other plants cover the foliage that has died back.

Why we love it: Bleeding heart brings a bright pop of pink to shady spots in your garden. Bonus: It’s a hummingbird and butterfly favorite.