11 Essential Flowers to Plant This Spring for Gorgeous Blooms

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Spring just might be our favorite season of the year. Sure, we're excited for warm weather, but it's getting into the garden—and planting flowers—that really brightens our spirits. Spring isn't just a time to add some color to your early-season garden; it's also when you can incorporate flowers that will bloom in summer and into fall and even those that come back each spring for years to come.

Some of our favorite, and earliest, perennial blooms, such as snowdrops, winter aconite, daffodils, crocuses, tulips, and hyacinths, should be planted in the fall to grow in spring. But many flowering plants can go in the ground at the beginning of the growing season. These are 11 of our favorite flowers to plant in spring.

01 of 11

Bleeding Heart

pink and white bleeding heart flowers and green leaves

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  • Botanical Name: Lamprocapnos spectabilis
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full sun
  • Soil Type: Moist, rich soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0–6.5

These gorgeous perennials cheer us with delicate strands of heart-shaped, pink, and white flowers against attractive serrated leaves from early spring through early summer. Mix compost into the soil before planting, and add organic mulch like bark or hay around the base of the plant afterward to help hold in moisture and enrich the soil over time. When the leaves begin to yellow in summer, you can cut the plants back to return the following spring.

02 of 11

Hellebore

purple hellebore flowers with green stems and leaves

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  • Botanical Name: Helleborus
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, free-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5–6.5

One of the earliest late-winter bloomers, hellebore—also called Lenten rose—offers lush, low-growing foliage and colorful, nodding blooms in shades of pink, red, purple, green, yellow, and white. Add organic compost when planting to enrich the soil. Plant in early spring, and keep the plants well-watered their first season. After that, they're pretty drought-tolerant, only requiring water in extended hot, dry periods.

03 of 11

Bloodroot

white and yellow bloodroot flowers in garden

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  • Botanical Name: Sanguinaria canadensis
  • Sun Exposure: Dappled shade to part sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist, free-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5–6.5

Native to the eastern United States, bloodroot makes a lovely addition to any perennial garden. This low-growing, late-winter bloomer is one of the first plants to flower. Divide bloodroot in fall or early spring, then transplant to create additional plantings. It's also cultivated commercially for its medicinal properties.

04 of 11

Virginia Bluebell

pink and blue Virginia bluebell flowers with green stems and leaves

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  • Botanical Name: Mertensia virginica
  • Sun Exposure: Dappled sun to full shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, rich soil
  • Soil pH: 6.8–7.2

This colorful native species is perfect for adding color to shady areas of your garden. Best of all, butterflies love to visit the colorful, bell-shaped blooms. Add compost to the soil a week before planting rhizomes or transplants in early spring, and keep the plants well-watered—they love moisture. You can also plant Virginia bluebells from seed in fall or in spring, roughly two months before your last frost date, as the seeds need a period of cold to germinate.

05 of 11

Stonecrop

pink sedum flowers in garden

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  • Botanical Name: Hylotelephium spectabile
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full sun
  • Soil Type: Sandy to gravelly soils with poor fertility
  • Soil pH: Acid, neutral, or alkaline

Also known as sedum or ice plant, these succulent perennials sporting clumps of tiny pink flowers will be happy in parts of your yard that other plants won't. They thrive in rocky areas (hence the name!) with moderate to low soil fertility, and they're drought-tolerant, too. Plant in springtime for flowers that support pollinators like bees and butterflies from late summer to early fall.

06 of 11

Daylily

bright orange daylilies in garden

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  • Botanical Name: Hemerocallis
  • Sun Exposure: Part sun to full sun
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-draining, sandy to clay soils
  • Soil pH: 6.0–8.0

Bright, cheerful daylilies aren't fussy about where to grow—they can be just as happy in a well-tended garden as they are in a ditch alongside a country road. Add compost to the soil before planting them in springtime, then use organic mulch to hold in soil moisture and keep weeds down. For darker-colored varietals, choose a spot with some afternoon shade, which will help them maintain their coloring.

07 of 11

Pansies

viola flowers in white, blue, purple, red, yellow, and brown growing in pot on wooden deck

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  • Botanical Name: Viola × wittrockiana
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, free-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 5.4–5.8

One of the most common spring flowers for gardeners, buying flats of pansies is an early-season ritual for many gardeners. Unlike many of the plants on this list, pansies are usually grown as annuals and are planted each year (unless you seek out violas, the parent plant of pansies, which tend to re-seed themselves). Use them to spruce up your mailbox, line pathways, or fill in gaps in the garden. Pinch back spent flower heads to encourage a longer bloom time.

08 of 11

Hydrangea

purple, blue, and lime green hydrangea bush

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  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Sun Exposure: Part sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.2–5.5

For a flowering plant that takes up space and makes a statement, go for hydrangea. This big, lush bush with showy, colorful globe-shaped clusters of blooms will brighten your garden all spring and summer long. While it's ideal to plant them in fall, early spring is an option, too. Find a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade, which will keep the blossoms from being scorched, and give the plant's roots plenty of room to grow—the hole should be around 2 feet wider than the root ball. Keep new plants well watered, and mulch around the base to hold soil moisture.

09 of 11

Sweet Pea

pink sweet pea flowers growing in sunny garden

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  • Botanical Name: Lathyrus odoratus
  • Sun Exposure: Afternoon shade to full sun
  • Soil Type: Moist, rich, free-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 7.0–7.5

A relative of garden peas (the ones we eat), sweet peas are prized for their heady, honeylike fragrance and array of bright colors. Plant them in a cutting garden, use them to line a path or walkway, or train them up a trellis for some vertical color. Sow them in late winter or early spring so they can germinate in cool temperatures (in warmer parts of the country, they're best planted in fall). Add compost to the soil where you plan to grow them about a month before planting, as sweet peas grow best with rich, fertile soil. Cut flowers to bring indoors frequently, which encourages the plant to put out new blooms.

10 of 11

Flowering Stock

pink, purple, red, and white flowering stock blooms with long green leaves in garden

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  • Botanical Name: Matthiola incana
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to light shade
  • Soil Type: Rich, loose, well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0–7.0

The beauty of these bold, colorful flowers is surpassed only by their heady fragrance, reminiscent of cloves. In cold climates, stock (also called gillyflower) must be planted from seed each year, but in warmer climates, it can be biennial or perennial. Plant them in springtime to enjoy fragrant bouquets in early summer. Keep the soil moist, and remember to pinch off faded flowers to encourage new growth.

11 of 11

Dahlia

orange and pink dahlia flowers with green leaves and dark red stems growing in garden

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  • Botanical Name: Dahlia pinnata
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun with afternoon shade
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.6–7.0

Dahlias are some of the most anticipated blooms for flower lovers—but to get these gorgeous specimens in late summer and early fall, we must plant tubers in mid-spring. Different cultivars are available in just about any shade, with flowers ranging from button-sized to plate-sized. Be sure to wait until after the last frost date for your area, when the soil has had a chance to warm up. Add compost to the soil before you plant, and be sure to plant the tubers with their eyes facing upward. Skip watering until you see shoots emerge above the soil. In high summer, the flowers will begin to bloom.

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