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Favorite Spring Perennials to Add to This Year’s Garden

When it comes to spring flowers, most of us think of tulips, crocus, daffodils, and hyacinths. But there’s a whole other world of spring perennials that are very deserving of your attention. I’ve rounded up my favorites, along with a couple of others that I’ve yet to add to my own garden spaces. Let me know if you have any of pretty plants, or if you have a favorite early bloomer that I didn’t mention.

 

Shade Loving Spring Perennials

Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)
Pillowed heart-shaped flowers dangle daintily from the soft stems of the Bleeding Heart plant. They love shaded areas and bloom for weeks in spring while it’s still cool out. After blooming, they often become ephemeral, meaning that they disappear in the garden while their roots stay alive. So don’t despair and think you’ve killed this beloved plant. Bleeding Heart grows anywhere from six inches to three feet tall and are available in pink, red, and white varieties. Hardy in zones 2-9.

Pink Bleeding Heart - spring perennials

 

False Forget-Me-Not (Brunnera macrophylla)
Sprays of dainty blue flowers appear in early- to mid-spring and last through the beginning of summer. The blooms are followed by heart-shaped leaves which don’t reach their full size until after the flowers have faded. Flowers can be cut and used in bouquets and arrangements. Remove dying or fading leaves to keep it looking its best. This shade-loving perennial should be cut back in late fall. Hardy in zones 3-8.

Brunnera macrophylla - shade perennial

 

Wood Lily (Trillium grandiflora)
This little flower gets its name from the fact that almost all its parts come in threes. Three petals, three leaves, and three-sectioned seed pods. The nodding white flowers develop a pink hue when they age and eventually turn to capsules that look like berries. Plant this spring-blooming charmer in a shady spot with rich soil. It will slowly spread on its own. Hardy in zones 4-9.

The spring wildflower Trillium grandiflorum (great white trillium) in bloom

 

Partly Shade/Sun Spring Perennials

Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica)
Without a doubt, the nodding blue to pinkish flowers of the Virginia Bluebell make it my favorite spring perennial – hands down! My bluebells spread each season and I couldn’t be happier about that. It’s such a joy to see waves of clustered, tiny blue flowers in my shady garden beds (they do well in full sun, too). I’ve even snipped some of these blooms and brought them indoors for an impressive bouquet. The plant grows about two feet tall with rounded leaves and blooms from early to late spring. Butterflies and bees love this flower. Hardy in zones 3-8.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) - spring perennials

 

Virgina Bluebells in a Shade Garden

 

Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
This dainty spring wildflower gets its name for the foamy appearance of its blooms that appear on long, thin stems above mounding foliage. Foamflower is my second favorite spring perennial flower. The blooms last for quite a while and will even come back if you dead head the plant. It’s a trouble-free groundcover but can be used as a specimen plant. When not in bloom, the leaves provide appeal with their curved edges and red veins. Prefers partial to full sun and is hardy in zones 3-8.

Close up of foamflowers (tiarella cordifolia) in bloom.

 

Delicate foam flower blooms in between plant leaves.

 

Yellow Fumitory (Corydalis lutea)
If you’re looking for a long-bloomer that’s easy to grow, look no further than Yellow Fumitory – or Corydalis. This pretty, mounding perennial thrives on neglect and self seeds. Place it in full to part shade and enjoy its pest- and disease-resistant attributes. I have a couple of these on a mound in my shade garden and I love how their yellow, droopy blooms add color among the hostas and coralbells. Not to mention, the leaves are somewhat dainty and very appealing. You won’t regret adding this perennial to your shade garden. Hardy in zones 5-7.

Corydalis lutea - also known as yellow fumitory

 

Grecian Windflower (Anemone blanda)
Mounds of daisy-like flowers provide showy heads of white, blue, and pink above fernlike foliage. It’s best to plant these little charmers in fall in part shade, but they’ll thrive in full sun if the soil is kept moist. Windflowers grow four to six inches tall and bloom in mid-spring. Plant them in groupings for a beautiful show of color in your landscape. Hardy in zones 4-8.

Anemone blanda flowers, perennial plants flowering in spring in a UK garden border

 

Anemone blanda Grecian winter windflower flowers in bloom, beautiful ornamental blue purple violet plant in bloom in early springtime in the garden

 

Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.)
This early spring bloomer has a less than stellar story behind its name. The leaves reminded botanists of a diseased lung, and subsequently named the plant lungwort. Despite the questionable name, this perennial adds a lot of charm to a partly shady garden. The tissue paper-like blooms start out red and turn to a deep purple as they age. Medium green lance-shaped leaves feature silvery spots, adding character to this easy-to-grow plant. The six- to twelve-inch plant is hardy in zones 2-8.

Lungwort perennial plant

 

Sun-Loving Spring Perennnials

Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima)
Sea Thrift displays pretty clusters of pink to lavender flowers atop slender stalks that rise above a dense mound of grass-like, dark green foliage. Blooms appear mid to late spring and look especially charming as border plants. The flowers can be cut and used in arrangements. Sea Thrift prefers full sun and grows six to twelve inches tall. Hardy in zones 3-9.

Sea Pinks or Sea Thrift flowers

 

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)
This flowering ground cover is actually part of the cabbage family and is sometimes considered to be an evergreen. You’ll enjoy a dense covering of white blooms in spring. Growing up to 12 inches tall, you can trim one-third off the top of the plant after it’s done blooming. This will keep it looking neat and tidy. If you enjoy cottage-type garden flowers that enjoy full sun, you’ll want to add Candytuft to your landscape. It works well as an accent or border plant. Hardy in zones 3-9.

Beautiful fancy white blooming Iberis  - candytuft

 

Siberian Iris (Iris siberica)
If you want to add spring perennials to maximize the number of blooms of this iris, be sure to plant it in a sunny location and dead head spent flowers. While it might not be as showy as other iris types, the Siberian iris is more drought tolerant and has more attractive leaves which look appealing after the blooming season is over. Available in purple, white, and yellow, this beauty will spread so be sure to plant it in a location where it has room to expand. Soak the roots and rhizomes in water overnight before planting, which can be done anytime spring through fall. Hardy in zones 3-9.

Siberian iris riverdance blue flowers

 

If you’re like me, you wait with anticipation for the garden center to open in the spring so you can find new plants and flowers to add to your landscape. Each year brings something new and this year, I plan to add False-Forget-Me-Not and Lungwort. Are you ready to get your fingers in the dirt and plant spring perennials?

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3 Comments

  1. Great blog Jennifer! I especially liked seing the shade perennials like Corydalis and Trillium that aren’t used as often as Hosta and Heuchera, which are everywhere. Looking forward to the next one!

  2. Jennifer, Love your gardening blog as well as your home decor articles.
    I used to have several varieties of Pulmonaria in my garden in Virginia but have had little success here in N.C.
    Same zone,same Piedmont soil and planting conditions. Really miss it interplanetary with my Hellebores,Ferns and Hostas. Maybe I should try some in a large container. Has anyone ever tried this? Also love Epimediums for their early spring delicate blooms. Need to look for some in my favorite on line nurseries.

  3. Hi Jen, It’s a rainy gray morning here in Crystal Lake, and I am lazily watching AM turn to PM, while savoring my coffee, and the incredible Spring flowers in this post. I have Bluebelles in my garden and they are among my favorites. I just wished they lasted a bit longer. Forget Me Nots and Bleeding Heart are soon to be popping through the soil (mud) again, too and I can’t wait to sit out in the yard with my coffee and listen to the birds and wait for the arrival of my hummers! Do you have a hummingbird feeder at your house? I bet they would just love your pond area.

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