More Early Blooming Plants & Trees for the South

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This article provides a list of plants that will add early spring color to your garden and landscape.
by Brett · Zone 5B · -15° to -10° F to Zone 11 · Above 40° F · Shrubs · 0 Comments · February 20, 2013 · 10,459 views

French Pink Pussy Willow, Salix gracilistyla, is a large upright-growing shrub or multi-stemmed small tree that produces large, pink catkins (buds) all along the branches that open in late winter or very early spring. These unique blooms are unlike any other bloom in your garden and open before most plants even start to put on leaves. The budded branches can be cut and brought indoors to use in flower arrangements.

Reeves Spirea, Spirea cantoniensis, commonly known as "Bridal Wreath Spirea," is a hardy and long-lived old-fashioned favorite shrub that produces an abundance of small white flower clusters that nearly cover the branches in spring. It is a low maintenance plant and exceptionally drought tolerant when established. Bridal Wreath Spirea is useful in flowering shrub borders or as a specimen anywhere in the sunny landscape. It can also be useful as a mid-size hedge, though the plant is deciduous.

Japanese Camellias, Camellia japonica, are outstanding evergreen shrubs or small to mid-size rounded trees that produces gorgeous fully double to semi-double flowers in a range of color: including numerous shades of red, pink, white and bicolor. The large flowers are up to 4 inches in diameter and begin opening in late winter continuing through mid-spring. Camellias provide year-round interest in partially shaded areas of the garden due to its glossy dark green leaves and smooth gray bark.

Purple Leaf Plum, Prunus cerasifera, produces luscious, puffy pink flowers in late-winter or early spring. After the flowers the vividly colored deep purple leaves are a wonderful natural color difficult to achieve with any other species of tree other than the red-leaved Japanese maples. Strictly an ornamental tree, produce no fruit and practically no litter, Purple Leaf Plums hold their vibrant look well under the hot southern sun, and will escape the typical winter with no weather damage. Purple Leaf Plums are an excellent addition in any small or medium space where strong color is needed.

Tea Olive, Osmanthus fragrans, also known as the Sweet Olive, is a large evergreen shrub or small tree that produces copious amounts of the most wonderfully fragrant flowers in existence. The flowers are tiny but boy do they pack a punch! All it takes is one Tea Olive to fill the front or backyard with a heavenly scent of perfume. The scent is really indescribable. No other fragrant plant I know of smells like the Tea Olive. It's just one of those things you have to experience for yourself.

Loropetalum, also known as Chinese Witch Hazel or Fringe Flower, produces an abundance of pretty pink or red fringe flowers in late winter through spring and sometimes again in fall. If you live and garden in a region where the average low temperature doesn't go below 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit during winter, and you're looking for low-maintenance, super-hardiness, pest and disease resistant flowering shrubs to color up your landscape, it does't get much better than the Loropetalums.

Cleveland Pear, Pyrus calleryana 'Cleveland Select', similar to Bradford pear but without the problems, is an excellent street tree with dense white flowering in late winter or early spring and purple fall coloring. It has an attractive upright oval form and glossy green leaves. This flowering pear has a superior branch structure that withstands ice and wind damage better than the Bradford Pear. It is fruitless has few pest problems, tolerates urban conditions, and heavy clay soils.

Creeping Phlox, also known as "Moss Phlox," is a low-growing, vigorous, spreading perennial plant that becomes covered in pink, blue, white, or reddish-pink flowers in late winter or very early spring. Especially spectacular draping over a rock wall, Creeping Phlox is also great for use as a colorful groundcover on small to medium size slopes and embankments, as a border along pathways and garden beds, or in between the gaps of stepping stones or boulders.

Candytuft, Iberis sempervivum, provides an evergreen carpet of pure white flower clusters that will add beauty to your garden from early to late spring. The compact, well-branched, spreading plant has narrow, dark green, evergreen leaves and grows well in wall crevices and along stone walkways or use it as a ground cover or for edging along walkways, patios or garden beds. Few ground covers rival the flower power of this late-winter to early-spring blooming beauty!

Japanese Magnolias, known commonly by many as Tulip Trees, are late winter or early spring flowering beauties that produce tulip-shaped flowers at the end of almost every stem on the tree! The large blooms can be anywhere from 4 to 6 inches across, depending on the cultivar. The petals usually point upward like a torch, and they can be white, yellow, pink, or purple. The flowers appear before the tree starts leafing out, which is part of what makes the display so striking.

Redbud, Cercis canadensis, produces an abundance of purple-pink, pea-like flowers in clusters all along the branches just before the heart-shaped leaves emerge in early spring. Exceptionally adaptable, redbud trees will grow in sun or shade, are not picky about soil type, and are exceptionally drought tolerant when established. No souhtern landscape is complete without a redbud tree and they are excellent companions for dogwood trees. 'Rising Sun' is a new cultivar that sports orange new leaves throughout the season that fade to bright yellow and then to chartreuse!

Dogwood, Cornus florida (American) and Cornus kousa (Chinese), produce an abundance of white, pink or red flowers in early spring before new leaves emerge. Dogwoods prefer life in the shade. Morning sun with afternoon shade and well-drained moist, humus-rich, acidic soils are preferred. Nop southern landscape is complete without a dogwood tree!

Summer Snowflake Viburnum, Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum, is one of a few shrubs (or small trees) that blooms all season long. It produces an abundance of pretty, white flower clusters once a month from March through October! Attractive bright red berries in late summer are followed by wine-red fall foliage.

Hope you enjoy these beautiful early flowering plants!


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