25 Best Early Spring Flowers

Perennial Blooms to Brighten Your Landscape Right After Winter

Illustration of early spring flowers

The Spruce / Katie Kerpel

Spring weather is unpredictable, yet spring flowers are hardy enough to handle it. Your garden can be brimming with color almost as soon as the ground thaws. Many early spring bloomers can be planted outdoors even before the threat of frost has passed. Others need a bit of coddling at first. But cool spring weather is when they shine, so don't wait too long to plant them.​

Here are 25 perennial flowers that will start blooming as soon as spring makes itself known.

  • 01 of 25

    Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

    bleeding heart

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Despite the name, these flowers are like cheery little charms dangling down the length of each branch. Even the chubby, lobbed leaves are attractive. Although bleeding hearts are a welcome sight in the spring, you had better look quickly. As the days lengthen and temperature warms, bleeding heart starts to turn yellow and forlorn. The plants can even disappear entirely for the summer, as many spring ephemerals do. But don't let that stop you from growing them. Simply plant them near later-emerging plants that will fill in the void.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained
  • 02 of 25

    Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

    bloodroot flower

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Bloodroot is more of a ground cover than a bedding plant, and its small white flowers can really brighten a shady or woodland garden. After the flowers disappear, the blue-green leaves provide an attractive backdrop for summer flowers and even make a nice carpet on their own. Unlike many ground covers, bloodroot is not invasive and usually not even aggressive. Its care needs are minimal, but it should be planted away from children or pets, as it is highly toxic when ingested.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White or pale pink petals with yellow centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained, acidic
  • 03 of 25

    False Forget-Me-Not or Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)

    Forget-me-nots

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The heart-shaped leaves of false forget-me-nots (also called Siberian bugloss) often get more attention than its brilliant blue flowers. Several cultivars have beautiful, creamy variegation. But whether you grow it for its flowers or its foliage, this is an easy plant to care for. Because this plant emerges so early in the spring, the leaves can get a bit tattered by summer. Simply cut them back, and new leaves will fill in. It is a slow-growing plant, but it will eventually form a nicely sized clump.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 04 of 25

    Hellebores (Helleborus spp.)

    Helleborus

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Flowers of the hardy Helleborus genus bloom as early in spring as they possibly can. They are slow-growing perennials that can be very pricey to purchase. If you are not particular about the color, you can find seed packets of mixed blends. You will have to wait a few years for seed-grown hellebores to bloom, but once they are established they will be around for decades. Just make sure to plant them somewhere that is sheltered from strong winds.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9 (varies by species)
    • Color Varieties: Pink, purple, white, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 25 below.
  • 05 of 25

    Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.)

    Lungwort

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Lungwort may not have the prettiest name, but it's a fabulous early spring flower. It also gets a lot of attention for its flashy foliage, with leaves that are dotted, speckled, and splashed with white and silver. The only bad news is the plants tend to be ephemeral and fade away in the summer. Lungwort flowers hold their own intrigue. The white flowers remain clear white while in bloom. In addition, there are flowers that start off pink and turn blue after they are pollinated. Care is minimal, though maintaining even soil moisture is key.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, blue
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 06 of 25

    Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

    Phlox

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Creeping phlox is an eye-catching spring flower. It forms a colorful carpet of flowers that often spills across lawns or pours over rock walls. It is usually planted in large masses, making a big splash. Creeping phlox comes in a few different pastel colors as well as bold pinks and pure white. The flowers do not last terribly long, but they put on quite a show when they arrive. Make sure to manage weeds growing in your phlox early in the season, so your plants don't have to compete with them.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Variations: Pink, red, white, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, evenly moist, well-drained
  • 07 of 25

    Pigsqueak (Bergenia cordifolia)

    bergenia

    49pauly / Getty Images

    Pigsqueak is not flashy, but it's certainly not a wallflower either. It more than makes up for the tininess of its flowers by having an abundance of them and holding them high above the glossy, leathery leaves on burgundy stems. While it is an early spring bloomer, the leaves can stay attractive all season. In the fall, they turn a nice bronze-red. This plant spreads via rhizomes but not quickly enough to become a nuisance. You can divide it every few years if the plant is becoming overgrown.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Variations: Pink, white, red, violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 08 of 25

    Primrose (Primula spp.)

    Primrose

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    There's lots of variety in the Primula genus. There are common primroses (Primula vulgaris); cowslips (Primula veris) in buttery yellow; exotic candelabras (Primula japonica) that hold their flower clusters on tall, straight stems; and English primroses (Primula acaulis) with their saturated colors. They vary in shape and size, but they all look best in large clumps, particularly when spreading out under trees. Care is minimal besides dividing the clumps as they become overgrown.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, amber-orange, blue, pinkish-purple, purple, red, several bicolored varieties
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained, slightly acidic
    Continue to 9 of 25 below.
  • 09 of 25

    Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum spp.)

    Solomon's seal

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Solomon’s seal is eye-catching in a shade garden, with its arching stems and dangling flowers. And after the bloom is over, the glossy black seed pods add visual appeal. Because it is a short plant that flowers downward, Solomon's seal looks best in large swaths that can spread out naturally in a garden bed. Make sure the soil remains evenly moist but not soggy for healthy plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, green
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, neutral to slightly acidic
  • 10 of 25

    Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)

    Twinleaf

    proteinbiochemist / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    Twinleaf is a demure North American native that is often mistaken for bloodroot because the two plants' flowers are very similar. What is wonderful about twinleaf flowers is they can bloom even before the leaves fan out. Twinleaf gets its botanical name (Jeffersonia diphylla) from Thomas Jefferson, and yes he did grow it. Twinleaf's common name comes from its sets of two leaves shaped somewhat like butterfly wings. Add a layer of mulch around your plants to keep the soil cool and moist.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 11 of 25

    Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

    Virginia bluebells

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Many folks believe spring has not arrived until they see the bluebells in bloom. The flowers don't actually start out blue. They begin as pink buds and turn blue later. And there's no denying the charm of their dangling clusters of tubular blue flowers. The bluebell is yet another spring ephemeral that disappears shortly after it flowers. Divide your plants in the late summer or early fall as necessary.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, lavender, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-drained, sandy
  • 12 of 25

    Wood Lily (Trillium grandiflorum)

    Trilium

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Wood lilies are quaint spring flowers that begin blooming in April. The rounded green leaves, the petals, and the sepals all come in groups of threes on this plant. A woodland native, wood lily spreads slowly via underground rhizomes. It needs evenly moist but not soggy soil to thrive.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 25 below.
  • 13 of 25

    Corydalis (Corydalis lutea)

    Corydalis

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Corydalis is a shade-loving perennial that forms mounds of fern-like foliage. It has a long bloom period from spring to early fall or even to the first frost, with small but bright flowers that have tubular petals. The plant can grow aggressively in cool spots with rich, moist soil, but it is easy to remove if you want to limit its spread. You may cut the foliage back in the summer if it depreciates in hot weather. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 14 of 25

    Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

    Winter heath

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Winter heath doesn’t even wait until spring to start blooming with its small but profuse clusters of flowers. It often will begin its bloom in January and continue until spring arrives in March. This low-growing, mound-forming plant is quite hardy and doesn’t require much maintenance. Prune as needed to shape it after it’s done flowering.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, loamy, acidic, medium moisture, well-drained
  • 15 of 25

    Stewartstonian Azalea (Rhododendron 'Stewartstonian')

    Stewartstonian azalea

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Stewartstonian azaleas feature glossy, dark green leaves that turn reddish-brown in the fall. But their show-stopping feature is their showy clusters of bright orange-red flowers that bloom in April. Prune this perennial shrub after it’s done flowering to shape it as needed. And make sure it gets consistent moisture but is not sitting in soggy soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Orange-red
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, humusy, acidic, medium moisture, well-drained
  • 16 of 25

    Golden Oriole Azalea (Rhododendron 'Golden Oriole')

    Golden oriole azalea

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Golden Oriole azaleas feature showy yellow-orange flowers that bloom in the early spring. And in the fall, the foliage turns an attractive red-orange color. This plant is excellent for attracting hummingbirds and other pollinators. Adding a layer of mulch around it will help to protect the roots and retain soil moisture.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow-orange
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, acidic, evenly moist, well-drained
    Continue to 17 of 25 below.
  • 17 of 25

    Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

    Korean spice viburnum

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Korean spice viburnum features very fragrant flowers that bloom in March and April. The tiny flowers are organized in rounded clusters that start out as pink buds before gradually changing to white blooms with a hint of pink. This plant is fairly low-maintenance. But ensure that it has good drainage and isn’t overwatered, as it does not do well in wet soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Pinkish-white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, acidic, well-drained
  • 18 of 25

    Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

    Flowering quince

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Flowering quince is a rounded shrub that blooms from March to April. The five-petaled flowers are about 2 inches in diameter and start to open even before the dark green leaves unfurl. Speckled, yellow-green fruits follow the flowers. Prune after flowering as needed to shape the plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 19 of 25

    Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica)

    Japanese Pieris

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The flowers of Japanese pieris, also known as lily of the valley bush, appear in April (and sometimes as early as March) in drooping clusters much like lily of the valley plants. The foliage emerges as a bronze color but matures to a shiny dark green. Remove the spent flowers to keep the plant looking neat and encourage further blooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, slightly acidic, well-drained
  • 20 of 25

    Japanese Rose (Kerria japonica)

    Japanese rose

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The Japanese rose is not part of the Rosa genus, though its five-petal flowers do resemble some rose flowers. This plant blooms profusely from April to May, even in somewhat shady conditions. It is relatively low-maintenance, but you should watch out for suckers (new shoots around the base of the plant) and remove them if you want to limit the plant’s spread.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained
    Continue to 21 of 25 below.
  • 21 of 25

    Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)

    Yellow alyssum

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Yellow alyssum is a perennial plant with a low-growing, spreading habit. These spring flowers bloom profusely on upright stalks starting in April. However, while they are attractive they don’t have the best fragrance. After flowering is complete, cut the plant back by a third to a half to encourage reblooming and to tidy it up.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-drained
  • 22 of 25

    Garden Rock Cress (Arabis caucasica)

    garden rock cress

    Elena Ga / Getty Images

    Rock cress is a low-growing, mat-forming ground cover that remains under a foot tall. It blooms with showy, four-petal flowers starting in April. This plant tolerates heat and drought quite well but must have good drainage and not be overwatered. Cut it back after it’s done flowering for thicker growth.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-drained
  • 23 of 25

    Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

    candytuft

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Candytuft is a low-growing perennial ground cover plant that remains evergreen in the warmer parts of its growing zones. It blooms from March to May with profuse clusters of four-petal flowers. The flowers can mature with a light pink hue. Cut back the plant by a third after it’s done flowering for healthier growth.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 24 of 25

    Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima)

    sea thrift

    Gareth McCormack / Getty Images

    Sea thrift, also known as sea pink, is a small plant with a compact, mounding growth habit. Its spring flowers start blooming in April in clusters that reach around an inch across, which sit above the foliage on bare flower stalks. Reblooming can occur during the summer. Wet soil can quickly kill sea thrift, so ensure that it has good drainage and you do not overwater.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry, infertile, well-drained
    Continue to 25 of 25 below.
  • 25 of 25

    Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

    Woodland Phlox

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Woodland phlox is a North American native wildflower that thrives in the dappled shade of the forest. It begins blooming in April with five-petal flowers that stretch roughly 1.5 inch across. The green leaves are around 2 inches long. Adding a layer of mulch around woodland phlox is ideal to keep the roots cool and retain soil moisture.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Rose, lavender, violet-blue
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

Tip

When planning your garden, mix the early spring flowers with your later bloomers to prevent bare spots after the early flowers are done. Also, think about which early bloomers die back early (such as ephemerals) and which maintain robust foliage for the remainder of the growing season. The latter can create a backdrop for later, lower-growing flowers.