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Last updated on January 21st, 2020
If you are looking for shrubs that flower early in the season, shrubs that bring about the start of the new blooming year, then you want one of these top 10 shrubs for spring interest.
With each of these, you can cultivate something magnificent, something that offers beautiful flowers mixed with vibrant foliage indicating the start of springtime year after year.
With so many colours available there is sure to be something that fits into your garden theme from the yellow Hamamelis pictured below the fiery red new foliage and white draped flowers of Pieris Forest Flame which is pictured a little further down.
Hamamelis mollis (Witch Hazel)
Witch hazel is a deciduous shrub that provides fragrant, bright flowers throughout the winter and is one of the most maintenance-free flowering shrubs you will ever find. Part of what makes it so maintenance-free is the fact that it’s resistant to almost all pests and diseases. Witch Hazel will grow most prolifically in full sun or in partial shade depending on how hot it gets where you live. The flowers when in bloom look like fiery embers against the bright winter sun. This plant is tolerant of alkaline or acidic conditions which allows it to grow just about anywhere.
If left to its own devices it will reach incredibly high at full maturity but you can keep it in check by pruning annually after the blooms are finished. You want to prune before summer starts so that the buds for the subsequent year have an opportunity to develop.
One of the more unique aspects of this plant is that it actually requires a cold winter chill in order to obtain full flowering in the springtime which makes it perfect for British gardens. It’s also worth noting that there are a few varieties and some have red or orange flowers but yellow is the most popular.
Forsythias are deciduous flowering shrubs that bring to your garden vibrant yellow blooms in the springtime. They also attract butterflies and bees. They will grow quite tall oh, much taller than they grow wide which makes them ideal for situations where you want a border or a centrepiece for your garden. The flowers actually proceed the leaves which means you get beautiful blossoms without any leaves interfering in your view.
Forsythias are very fast-growing shrubs and they will attain an upright an arch form. They bloom first in the early spring but provide you with little else for the remainder of the year which is why it is best not to plant them on their own but rather to include them in an otherwise large garden full of late spring and summertime bloomers.
Forsythias grow best if they have full sunlight, so you want to find an area in your garden that gets at least six hours of direct sun. Anything less than that and the Forsythia will not produce as many flowers as it could. The soil must be well-drained and they will need to be watered occasionally.
Pieris ‘Forest Flame’
Forest flame is broadleaf, evergreen shrub that grows tall and wide but its also great for growing in containers where its size can be restricted. It starts off with glossy, green leaves that convert to a red color in the fall and eventually fade to a creamy pink before returning to the dark green. At the beginning of spring, you will get bead like flowers which open u to provide you with the first signs of springtime. The new foliage is also bright red where the name ‘forest flame’ comes from.
As spring continues it will manifest in the form of small bell-shaped blooms or urn-shaped blooms. These grow very well as shrubs serving as an informal hedge and you can choose to plant them individually or in a small group. With these plants, they need rich acidic soil so it is incumbent upon you to test your soil and amend it at least two months prior to planting.
When planting new Forest Flames, do it between June and September and make sure you dig a hole that is slightly larger and deeper than the container in which it comes. Water it daily until it settles and shows new signs of growth after which water only enough to keep the soil moist. As the plant establishes itself in the springtime you can cut off flowers when they stayed and prune it to keep the size and shape to your liking.
Azaleas – Evergreen & Deciduous
There are azaleas that come in the form of deciduous and evergreen varieties both of which are perfect spring-flowering shrubs. The Azalea comes in so many forms that you can pick pink, white, burgundy, red, even coral flowers. There’s very little work required to cultivate Azalea’s but a big reward.
If you are looking for early spring flowers but your space is small, a dwarf variety is best. Conversely, if you have a lot of space you want to fill, the Formosa varieties are a wonderful choice. Once you choose the plants of your liking you need a location that offers morning sunlight and afternoon shade or at the very least filtered light. Full exposure to the sun can stress your plant and leave them susceptible to pests.
They require well-drained, acidic soil so if you test your soil ahead of time, make alterations over the course of two months prior to planting the new azaleas. Once you plant them the first time you will need to soak the soil two or three times per week but they’re after you can decrease the frequency with which you water to maintain moist soil. The smaller varieties are also great for planting into containers.
Daphne odora (gold-edged winter daphne)
With this variety, you can enjoy pink flower buds that as they open to convert to white and expose a sweet fragrance in the winter time and the early spring. The foliage is green with yellow margins that give it that gold edged name.
These plants work well against walls or near patios where the fragrance can truly be appreciated not just by you but by any guests. They produce small, tubular flowers followed thereafter by bright berries. The plant itself is rather compact with dark green leaves boasting that yellow aforementioned edge. It works best to fill an area that is sparse and needs larger bushes.
The incredibly ornamental bush has eye-catching flowers that come in the form of white clusters followed by colourful blueberries and bright green, leathery foliage. The buds that you receive will start off as a pale pink shade in the middle of winter and manifest throughout the beginning of Spring in the form of fragrant clusters that reach between 5 and 10 centimetres in size.
These clusters offer a great deal of nectar so they will attract bees and butterflies to your garden throughout the season. The glossy green leaves juxtaposed by the metallic blue berries make this plant an excellent choice for low screens. It is a wonderful asset to have during the middle of winter especially when none of your other plants is in bloom. It can reach up to 240cm in height and 180 centimetres in width so while it does not require regular pruning, you may have to cut back some of it to maintain the shape you want.
Kerria japonica (Japanese rose)
The Japanese rose is a deciduous flowering shrub that produces yellow flowers in the springtime. The bark and branches are just as attractive feature as the bright yellow flowers which make it the perfect addition to any garden in need of a little sprucing come the end of winter or the beginning of Spring.
The branching pattern goes out vertically and horizontally, with smaller branches radiating off of the main branch in every direction. The bark itself takes on a green to yellow hue. This is a very shade tolerant shrub so it is perfect for any garden region that is partially shaded. In addition to the attractive branches that will give you an interesting visual across your winter landscape, it is also very tolerant of different pH levels so you don’t have to do much to change the soil you already have. Not only does the Japanese rose indicate the coming of springtime with its first round of blooms but it also gives you a second round of blooms late in the season so that you can enjoy the colour time and time again.
This shrub has beautifully designed flowers that manifest along the length of a single branch bringing to your garden clusters of rich velvety red for the front petals and beautiful peach shades of yellow, pink, and light orange along with the remainder of the flower.
The slender green stems hide the tiniest of leaves and the dents clumps of the lemony yellow and ruby red blooms make this plant perfect for hedges or screens. It is a well-behaved hybrid shrub that will tolerate different soils and requires very little maintenance and care. It does need full sun but once it’s established it only requires occasional watering and light pruning to keep it at the desired height.
Ribes King Edward
If you desire hanging clusters of flowers rather than flowers that bloom along the length of different stems, this is the shrub for you. The flowers have a rich crimson texture to them with a great deal of visual variety insofar as they produce tiny flowers along the length of a panicle similar to panicle hydrangeas.
Beyond that there are bluish black berries favored by many birds. This plant requires partial to full sun and does need regular watering. However it blooms in the springtime and can be used very well to attract wildlife, to create a privacy hedge, or to add vibrant pink shades to your garden before the other plants have bloomed.
Spirea Bridal Wreath
Taking on a more unique shape, the bridal wreath spirea is a medium-sized deciduous shrub which has tiny flowers on it. when you look at a single branch you will see that the flowers themselves grow off thin and long stems that all shoot from the branch itself which is what allows for that fanned out the appearance of a bridal wreath.
During the springtime, you will get an abundance of white flowers and when the fall comes around the leaves will change colours. You could literally cut off a portion of the flowers and stick the branch in a bouquet, floral arrangement in your home, or even slide it into your hair allowing the array of tiny white blooms to fall where they may.
This plant is well suited for any region where deer are a problem as it is deer resistant and as an extra bonus it does attract butterflies too. It needs to be grown in a region with well-drained, moist soil and full sunlight. Be sure you give a great deal of space in between multiple bridal wreath plants as they can grow to such a size that they block out the light from one another.
These are flowering, shade loving shrubs that produce many different bloom colours ranging from light pinks to rich rubies to white or cream. They will bloom in the winter in the early spring which adds a bit of cheer to any garden that might otherwise be lacking in colour.
The flowers themselves have an abundance of petals so closely together that it almost looks unreal. One variety, the Bella Rossa, produces sets of five petals that as they grow get larger and are followed immediately by a new set of petals on the same flower such that you could have a central bud from which the petals are originating that opens slowly two smaller sets of 5 against larger sets of five, and so on and so forth, 10 or 12 layers deep creating a beautiful three-dimensional and geometric pattern for your garden.
Camellias do grow big so allow plenty of room for them to grow.