Early Spring Perennial Flowers

 Although they are frequently used as simple decorations nowadays, flowers often take on symbolic meanings, particularly in literature. During the Victorian era, they were used to communicate unsaid meaning – the secret language of flowers. Flowers are often seen as symbols of ephemerality, as well as eternality. Although they fade and wither at the advent of winter frost; every spring, they return, year after year. 

In Dorian Gray, the manipulative Lord Henry tells Dorian, “The common hill-flowers wither, but they blossom again. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as it is now. In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis, and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. But we never get back our youth.”

Here, they reflect youthful vanity, beauty, and decadence. But flowers can also represent strength and resilience, integral aspects of the human condition. Even if you don’t have much time to read books and ponder the philosophical implications of flowers, you can still admire their beauty and dazzling variation of colors. Below is a list of early emerging spring perennials you can consider growing in your garden. 

  1. Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)
    Early Spring Perennial Flowers | Vego Garden

Bleeding heart is an attractive plant with rows of heart-shaped flowers dangling on arched stems. Like other spring ephemerals, they bloom for only a brief period before going dormant and disappearing from view. To fill the space, plant them near other plants that will emerge later. They prefer to be planted in a shady or part shade area, making them an ideal plant to brighten drab or dark areas. Keep the soil consistently moist by watering. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 9 
  • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white
  • Soil Type: Organic soil, well-drained 
  1. Crocus  

They are known for their early-blooming flowers that help brighten a garden after the dreary dearth of winter. Able to tolerate both extreme heat and cold, they are often the first flowers to appear in spring. Plant crocuses in groups in autumn for a colorful arrangement. Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, which can cost more than gold, is produced from the saffron crocus. Due to their strong scent, they are popular with bees and other pollinators, especially the purple-colored varieties. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8 
  • Color Varieties: Purple, lavender, blue, orange, yellow, cream and white
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full sun 
  1. Pigsqueak (Bergenia purpurascens) 

Pigsqueak is a hilariously named flower with glossy leaves and bright, magenta flowers looming high above the foliage. It derives its name from the sound one can make by rubbing two leaves together. They usually appear in early spring and reappear during the fall. They can tolerate most types of soil, but prefer humus rich soil with good drainage. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8 
  • Color Variations: Pink, white, red, violet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  1. Early Scilla (Scilla mischtschenkoana)
    Early Spring Perennial Flowers | Vego Garden

A bulbous perennial that is often overlooked, this plant is low maintenance and can easily be naturalized in grassy areas. It features delicate white flowers adorned with a blue stripe. If you prefer colder, calming hues, consider adding this plant to your garden. Planted during the fall, it can last as long as 2 months, beginning to flower with the snowdrops and crocuses. Its elegance makes it a good choice in accentuating the lower areas of your garden – under shrubs and trees, around borders, and in rock gardens. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 7 
  • Soil Type: Average soil with adequate drainage, prefers sandy loam  
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  1. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Virginia bluebells are lovely flowers that thrive in partially shady woodlands, wildflower, or native plant gardens. They bear tubular shaped flowers that occur in loose clusters. In its native habitat, it can be found in moist woodlands and river flood plains in eastern North America. It is threatened in its native range because of habitat destruction. Another spring ephemeral, they can be incorporated into a native garden to add early spring color. Their flowers emerge with a pink hue before turning blue.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8 
  • Color Varieties: White, lavender, pink
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade 
  • Soil Type: Evenly moist, well-drained, sandy
  1. Marsh Marigold  

Despite its name, they are not closely related to marigolds. Marsh marigolds thrive in wet habitats such as marshes, fens, swamps, river floodplains, and the edge of a pond. Resembling buttercups rather than marigolds, this plant features clusters of conspicuous butter-yellow blossoms with thick stems and broad leaves. According to folk tradition, they have been used to add color to butter. 

Due to its preference for wetlands, they are a good addition to add to a wild-life friendly pond, the foliage lending shelter for frogs and providing nectar for early insects. They look very similar to lesser celandine, an invasive species. One way to differentiate is to count the number of petals. marsh marigolds have 5 – 9 petals while lesser celandine has 7 – 12 petals that are narrower. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 7  
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade 
  • Soil Type: Most areas with well-draining soil 
  1. Candytuft  

Like its name suggests, candytuft produces a carpet of profusely-blooming flowers that come in lively colors. Unfortunately, it does not smell like candy and can emit an unpleasant smell, so don’t stand too close to them or plant them in large clumps. In reality, its name is derived from Candia, an obsolete name for Crete. It grows best in full sun in well-drained soil. Candytuft is frequently used in borders, rock gardens, and containers. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8 
  • Color Varieties: White, pink, purple 
  • Soil Type: Medium moisture, well-drained
  1. Variegated Solomon’s Seal

This variety of Solomon’s Seal features rich green leaves with white variegations and arching, unbranched stems with bell-shaped flowers. A low maintenance and hardy perennial that is able to adapt to a variety of situations, it is a great addition to a native woodland garden. Preferring moist, well drained soils in full to partial shade, it makes a lovely combination planted alongside Virginia bluebells and creeping phlox. After flowering, it develops into small berries that turn ruby-red. 

  1. Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima)
    Early Spring Perennial Flowers | Vego Garden

Sea thrift is a compact perennial that grows in low clumps supporting bright pink flowers. It forms a dense mound of foliage, and is used for edging, border fonts, rock gardens, or coastal gardens. Virtually pest and disease free, it attracts bees and butterflies to your garden. As they do not tolerate moist soils, make sure your soil is well-drained and that you do not overwater them. Sea thrift blooms profusely from mid to late spring, with sporadic flowering occurring during the summer.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8 
  • Color Varieties: Pink, white 
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Dry, infertile, well-drained
  1. Grape Hyacinth
    Early Spring Perennial Flowers | Vego Garden

Although not directly related to true hyacinths, grape hyacinths share a vague resemblance. Plant them in the fall for spring blooms. Like its name suggests, it grows in bright, grape-like clusters, its delicate blossoms containing a mild fragrance reminiscent of grapes. Grape hyacinth is often planted in open areas, grassy slopes, and along rock gardens. Due to its tendency to naturalize readily, it may crowd out other species. A solution is to grow it in a container or raised garden bed.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8 
  • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, white, yellow  
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun but can tolerate partial shade 
  • Soil Type: Moist, but well-drained