11 Shrubs That Flower in Early Spring

Kerria japonica

Flottmynd/Getty Images 

Early spring flowering shrubs are a great way to bring bright and seasonal colors to your landscape. These shrubs are valued for their flowers that begin to bloom in March and April, and some even stay evergreen year-round. Some varieties remain relatively small while others can grow several feet in height and spread. Here are 11 spring flowering shrubs to help usher in the growing season.

Tip

Pruning an overgrown flowering shrub in late winter or early spring likely will reduce the number of blooms you get. But it will rejuvenate the plant and make for a healthier shrub in the long run.

  • 01 of 11

    Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

    light pink heather in flower
    David Beaulieu

    Winter heath (Erica carnea) begins blooming over the winter, and its spikes of lavender-pink flowers persist into early spring. The low-growing, evergreen shrub appears delicate, but it's actually fairly hardy and tolerates poor soil and some drought. It flowers best in full sun but can stand a little shade. If pruning is necessary to maintain its shape or remove old portions, do so after the plant is done flowering in the spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Pink or purple blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, loamy, acidic, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 02 of 11

    Witch Hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia 'Arnold Promise')

    Witch hazel

     

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Witch hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia 'Arnold Promise') is a flowering shrub prized for its bright blooms that arrive in March. The yellow flowers have a warm, spicy fragrance and precede the leaves. The plant grows to about 12 to 15 feet tall and is often used as a screen or tall hedge. Although it can tolerate some shade, planting it in full sun will maximize its blooms.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, acidic, well-draining
  • 03 of 11

    Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)

    Forsythia bush

     emer1940 / Getty Images

    Forsythias are flowering shrubs known for their long branches that get full with brilliant yellow blooms early in the spring. The plant belongs to the olive family and can tolerate poor soil and some drought. But if it experiences an especially harsh winter or a late winter freeze, it might fail to flower well in the spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Loose, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 04 of 11

    Andromeda (Pieris japonica)

    Andromeda

     

    ouchi_iro / Getty Images

    Andromeda (Pieris japonica) is a shade-tolerant bush that can start blooming as early as March and has distinctively fragrant flowers. Some people find their strong smell offensive while others like it, so know the smell before you plant one in your garden. The bush is evergreen and can grow to around 10 feet tall with a spread of 7 feet.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, or rose blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, slightly acidic, well-draining
    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

    flowering quince shrub with red blooms
    David Beaulieu

    The flowering quince is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub. Despite its somewhat messy growth habit, this shrub produces beautiful red, orange, white, or pink flowers that bloom as early as March or April. Related to roses, flowering quince has a thorny exterior and an easy-to-grow nature, making it a good choice for barrier plantings.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, orange, red, or pink blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, acidic to neutral, well-draining
  • 06 of 11

    Japanese Rose (Kerria japonica)

    Kerria japonica

    Flottmynd/Getty Images 

    The Japanese rose is a somewhat fanciful common name for Kerria japonica. It is not a rose in the traditional sense, as it does not belong to the genus Rosa. But it is a member of the very large rose family. This bush puts on a magnificent display when in bloom for up to six weeks in April and May. It blooms on old wood, so do any necessary pruning right after its spring flowering is finished. If you prune later in the season, you might remove flower buds for the next year.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 07 of 11

    Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

    Korean Spice Viburnum

     

    BasieB / Getty Images

    Korean spice viburnum is a flowering bush that transforms three times throughout spring, summer, and fall. Its aromatic white blooms open in March and April with a more pinkish color and then give way to bright red berries in the summer that mature into a dark hue for fall. The deciduous shrub has a height and spread of around 4 to 6 feet and works well as a foundation planting.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Pinkish-white blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, moist, acidic, well-draining
  • 08 of 11

    Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)

    dwarf fothergilla flowers

    Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    With landscape value in both spring and fall, dwarf fothergilla is a shrub that serves double duty. Its bottlebrush-like white blooms can be seen in April and early May before the leaves appear. And its blue-green leaves turn to brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange in the fall. This shrub requires minimal pruning, and it's another plant that blooms on old wood. So prune just after its flowering period to avoid cutting off any buds for the next growing season.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, acidic, well-draining
    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Daphne Shrubs (Daphne)

    Daphne shrubs

     

    Sunniva Harte / Getty Images

    Daphne is a genus of flowering shrubs with an incredibly sweet scent and bright red berries. Species grow from roughly 3 to 5 feet and start blooming in late winter to early spring. As a bonus, some of the shrubs flower again in late summer. It's important to note that Daphne leaves and berries are toxic, so avoid planting these shrubs if there will be children or pets in the area. They also require a delicate balance of moist soil and excellent drainage.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White or light pink blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Part sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, acidic to neutral, well-draining
  • 10 of 11

    Golden Oriole Azalea (Rhododendron 'Golden Oriole')

    Golden Oriole azalea flowers of yellow and orange
    David Beaulieu

    The 'Golden Oriole' (Rhododendron 'Golden Oriole') azalea bears light yellow-orange flowers that bloom in early spring, and it develops red-orange foliage in the fall. This flowering shrub can reach a height of 6 feet with a spread of 4 to 6 feet. It's a good plant for attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. The plant generally doesn't need regular pruning. But if you wish to give it a trim, do so right after its flowering period, as it blooms on old wood. Moreover, if the plant outgrows its location, you can cut it back to about a foot high. Feed the shrub and keep it watered, and soon new suckers should sprout from its base.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow-orange blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, acidic, evenly moist, well-draining
  • 11 of 11

    Stewartstonian Azalea (Rhododendron x Gable 'Stewartstonian')

    Stewartstonian azalea with red flowers
    David Beaulieu

    There is no doubt azaleas are among the most popular spring flowers in North America. The Stewartstonian azalea is an evergreen shrub with red flowers that bloom in April. It matures to a height and spread of around 4 to 5 feet, and its dark green foliage turns a reddish color in the fall. This plant does require some maintenance. Fertilize it annually, and keep the soil moist throughout the growing season with a combination of watering and mulch. Plus, prune the plant after it's done flowering to maintain its shape.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Red blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, humusy, acidic, medium moisture, well-draining