Here in Illinois, the only colors our landscape likes to wear during the winter is snow white, tree green, and bark brown. Sure, it’s beautiful in its own way, but by the time spring rolls around, we’re more than ready for a wardrobe change! This is why spring-blooming perennials are amongst the most adored plants we grow in our garden. Make sure your spring is filled with constant color and beautiful blooms with our spring perennial blooming calendar!
Early Spring Blooming Perennials
Early blooming perennial plants are a great way to ring in the season. They bring us the most joy and excitement, as their color and warmth signal the end of cold winter weather. Blooming as early as March and early April, these are some of our favourite early spring perennials:
Hellebore: Plants from the hellebore family, like Lenten Rose and Christmas Rose, are among the first perennials to wake up from their winter sleep. As true harbingers of spring, it’s not uncommon for these blooms to open their perfect petals while there’s still snow on the ground. Hellebores offer some of the widest variety in color and pattern than any other plant. Known for their high performance, these flowers are perfect for brightening up partially shaded areas.
Snowdrops: Every year we endure a bleak, muddy phase in between winter and spring. We’ve lost the pristine beauty of winter snow, but our gardens haven’t bounced back to life quite yet. What better way to transition between the seasons than with stunning snowdrops? Appearing just as the snow starts to recede, their delicate, downward-facing petals add beauty and elegance to otherwise dreary scenes. For these early spring blooms, plan ahead and plant these bulbs in the fall.
Pasque Flower: Regardless of how it came in, March always goes out like a lion with these fierce flowers and their furry manes! Pasque flowers are violet, bell-shaped flowers with large yellow centers. Though their petals are smooth, soft hairs cover their stems and frame their beautiful faces. Strong and hardy, you can count on pasque flowers to add color to your flower gardens early every spring.
Mid-Blooming Spring Perennials
Bridging the gap between our super early bloomers and fashionably late favorites, many perennials open their buds towards the middle of the spring. Flowering from mid-April to early May, these are some of the most reliable mid-Spring bloomers:
Bleeding Hearts: Perhaps one of the most unique blooms of any flowering perennial, bleeding hearts cascade from arching mahogany stems in spring and well into the summer months. With their distinct shape, dangling pendulum, and deep red-pink tones, there’s no mistaking their resemblance to their name. These shade-loving perennials grow quickly in moist environments with protection from the sun.
Lungwort: Another one for adding life to dark, shaded areas, pulmonaria, or lungwort, is a hardy flowering shrub with dreamy pink-purple blossoms. Boasting some of the most alluring colors of all spring perennials, you’re missing out if you don’t have lungwort in your garden! Plant it among hostas and ferns for an enchanted garden feel.
Creeping Phlox: For something that’s sure to make your garden the talk of the neighbourhood, look no further than creeping phlox. Not to be confused with garden flox, which blooms in the summer, creeping phlox is a low-growing perennial that creates an effective ground cover. Its dense mat of spring blossoms warm up your garden – sure to catch everyone’s eye. Aside from its signature pink flowers, creeping phlox also blooms in reds, purples, whites, and even some variegated patterns. Because it’s so versatile, you can include creeping phlox almost anywhere in your garden!
Late Spring Blooming Perennials
There’s no doubt that April showers bring some of the most bright and beautiful spring flowers. These stunning perennials plants are a great segway into our favorite heat-loving plants. They start blooming later in May but often linger for much of the summer.
Azalea: One of the brightest and bushiest flowering shrubs, azalea blossoms add certain charm and charisma to your property. By mid-May, their branches are completely overcome by their brilliant blossoms, in shades of pink, white, and red. Most varieties appreciate some dappled shade, so don’t be afraid to plant them along the eastern and northern sides of your house, or under deciduous trees.
Poppies: These stunning wildflowers are most known for their symbolic shade of red, but can actually display a wide range of colors. Their crumpled, rounded petals whorl around a velvety, black center. Delicate but strong, poppies are absolutely breathtaking, especially when planted in masses. From planting to maintenance, everything about growing poppies in your garden is easy!
Astilbe: For that last burst of spring color before the summer-bloomers come in hot, you can’t go wrong with planting astilbe flowers. Their tall, feathery racemes add both vertical interest and texture to your landscape. Plant a variety of cultivars for a sea of white, pink, purple, and red in every shade imaginable. Though they can grow in full shade, we wouldn’t classify them as shade-lovers. Some part sun/part shade is just about right for these blooming perennials.
With most perennials blooming for just a few weeks at a time, it’s not hard to run into a period of time where your garden seems to be lacking in color. Avoid this by planting a variety of spring-blooming perennials for guaranteed color that lasts right up until the summer blooms begin to show!