Top 10 Early Spring Flowering Bushes

Spring flowering bushes and shrubs that add color to backyards early in the season, attract pollinators and more.

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Bright yellow Cornelian cherry dogwood flowers on the tips of a branch.
Shutterstock / tomtsya

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

Cornus mas, Zones 4 to 8

Size: Up to 20 feet tall and wide

Welcome spring with bright yellow flowers that appear earlier than forsythia’s blooms. These spring flowering bushes prefer full sun or part shade, and rich, moist, well-draining soil. Leaves turn purplish red in fall, and flaky bark adds winter interest.

Why we love it: The red fruits are edible, but they are tastier made into preserves, jellies and pies. Or leave them for the birds to enjoy.

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A dwarf Russian almond shrub with bunches of pink-colored flowers and delicate light green leaves.
Getty Images / skymoon13

Dwarf Russian Almond

Prunus tenella, Zones 2 to 6

Size: 2 to 5 feet tall and wide

This modest-sized shrub bookends the growing season with showy rose red flowers and yellow-orange fall color. It prefers full sun, tolerates a range of soil types and is fairly drought resistant. Ruth’s 100 produces abundant blooms on a compact plant.

Why we love it: Flowers appear early and attract butterflies. Plus, the plant provides food and cover for backyard birds and wildlife.

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Yellow bursts of flowers from witch hazel bushes are some of the first blooms to appear in spring.
Getty Images / Jackie Bale

Vernal Witch Hazel

Hamamelis vernalis, Zones 4 to 8

Size: 6 to 10 feet tall and wider

Enjoy seasons of color from this North American native plant. Fragrant flowers are golden yellow, orange or burgundy-red. See even more yellow flowering shrubs.

Leaves emerge reddish bronze, turn green in summer and shift to yellow in fall. The best flowering happens in full sun, but the plant tolerates part shade.

Why we love it: This native tree attracts songbirds, but deer leave it alone.

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Clusters of paperbush flowers are yellow toward the middle and transition to white.
Getty Images / Hana-Photo

Paperbush Plant

Edgeworthia chrysantha, Zones 7 to 9

Size: 3 to 6 feet tall and wider

Leafless stems provide interest in winter, while creamy yellow flowers with a spicy scent attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies in late winter or early spring. The Gold Finch variety tolerates humidity and heat, and Grandiflora boasts larger flowers.

Why we love it: Dark green leaves turn rich yellow in fall, adding to its year-round appeal. And its bark can be used to make paper, hence its common name.

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Plant Lenten rose for early spring blooms.

Bush cherry blooms are vibrant with pink petals and thin yellow stamens.
Millette Photomedia

Bush Cherry

Prunus jacquemontii, Zones 5 to 8

Size: 5 feet tall and wide

Here’s a cherry that southern gardeners can also enjoy. Rose-colored buds open to fragrant pink flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators. The green leaves are a larval host for the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly and turn yellow in the fall. Grow these spring flowering bushes in full sun with moist, well-draining soil.

Why we love it: The fruit, which ranges from red to plum purple, attracts birds to the landscape.

Grow more plants for nesting birds.

Dwarf fothergilla features fuzzy, off-white flowers.
Bailey Nurseries

Dwarf Fothergilla

Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 4 to 9

Size: 3 to 6 feet tall, 2 to 6 feet wide

The fothergilla is a beautiful white flowering shrub and slow grower that sends up additional shoots, forming a colony. Remove any unwanted stems to control its size. The blue-green leaves turn vibrant red, orange and yellow in the fall. Grow it in full sun to part shade, and in rich, moist, acidic soil.

Why we love it: White, honey-scented bottlebrush flowers attract bees and other beneficial pollinators.

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Daphne shrubs have pink star-shaped flowers and green leaves with pale yellow details.
Bailey Nurseries

Daphne

Daphne, Zones 4 to 8

Size: 6 inches to 3 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide

Choose from a variety of sizes and spring bloom times. Grow in full sun to part shade where the lovely fragrant flowers can be enjoyed. Daphnes prefer moist, well-draining soil and protection from winter wind and sun.

Why we love it: The evergreen leaves of some cultivars and the variegated leaves of Carol Mackie make daphnes a welcome addition to a home garden of any size.

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A Snow Day Blizzard pearlbush has round, orb-like white blooms.
Courtesy of Proven Winners – www.provenwinners.com

Pearlbush

Exochorda racemosa, Zones 4 to 8

Size: Up to 15 feet tall and wide

Place this large shrub where you are sure to enjoy the spring floral display. Pearl-like flower buds open into white flowers in midspring, followed by interesting seed capsules. Use it as a hedge or include it in a mixed or shrub border. Prune immediately after blooming for best results.

Why we love it: Growing in full sun to part shade, these spring flowering bushes are low maintenance as well as heat and drought tolerant.

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Add these attractive drought tolerant shrubs to your garden.

A layer of red flowering quince blooms with bright yellow stamens.
Courtesy of Proven Winners – www.provenwinners.com

Flowering Quince

Chaenomeles speciosa, Zones 4 to 9

Size: 6 to 10 feet tall and wide

Quince’s white, pink or red flowers are followed by an apple-like fruit that turns yellow in the fall (make it into preserves and jellies). Leaves emerge a bronzy red before turning green in summer. Grow in full sun for the best flowering.

Why we love it: The colorful flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

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spring flowering bushes, A Japanese pieris branch with small tube-shaped white blooms.
Getty Images / Yujie Chen

Japanese Pieris

Pieris japonica, Zones 4 to 7

Size: 9 to 12 feet tall, 6 to 8 feet wide

Grow as a large shrub or small tree in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, well-draining, acidic soil, as well as a location where its evergreen leaves are protected from winter winds.

Why we love it: The showy buds that form in late summer add beauty to the winter garden before opening into white flowers in early spring.

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See fascinating facts about flowering trees.

spring flowering bushes, Proven Winners evergreen azalea indoors
Courtesy of Proven Winners/Provenwinners.com

More Early Spring Flowering Bushes

Next, check out 13 spring vegetables to grow for an early harvest.

Melinda Myers
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books. She hosts the nationally syndicated “Melinda’s Garden Moment” TV and radio segments and is the instructor for The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD and Instant Video series. Melinda is a dynamic presenter, appearing at many events throughout the country each year. She has received recognition and numerous awards, including the American Horticultural Society’s B.Y. Morrison Communication Award and was inducted into The Association for Garden Communicators Hall of Fame.