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Spring-blooming shrubs

By: Garden Gate staff
Check out 3 shrubs that will add bright, colorful spring blooms anywhere in your garden!

Spring-blooming shrubs

Shrubs add color and structure to any bed or border — especially in spring. And they’re a great choice if you don’t have a lot of room in your yard but still want the height and architectural interest a tree provides.

Even though many spring-blooming shrubs put on a show for only a few weeks, it makes us treasure them all the more, especially early in the season. We love them so much we give them key spots in the landscape where they’ll have maximum impact and where we can appreciate them when they are in bloom.

Spring-blooming shrubs worth looking forward to

The first flush of bright yellow flowers of forsythia is a beacon of spring, letting you know what you can look forward to. Count on early spring bloomers to kick-start the show in your garden, and watch the color keep coming with later spring bloomers like dwarf fothergilla and gardenia. Check out the gallery below to learn about 8 beautiful spring-blooming shrubs!

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Flowering quince (Chaenomeles spp. and hybrids)

Flowering quince does well in acid or heavy clay soil and is a pollinator favorite — expect to see lots of bees and hummingbirds visit its heavy-flowering branches.

Blooms Single or double pink, red-orange or white blooms in early spring Light Full sun to part shade Size 2 to 8 ft. tall, 2 to 10 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii)

Get interesting foliage — green leaves have white to creamy yellow margins — and fragrant clusters of blooms with daphne. Just prune back the tips of branches after flowering finishes for more side branching and flowers next spring.

Blooms Fragrant pink blooms open to white in midspring Light Part shade Size 3 to 4 ft. tall, 3 to 6 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

The spicy, exotic fragrance of a gardenia makes this late-spring shrub worth growing. scent can be overpowering if you have a lot of plants. Plant only one or two plants near a seating area or window, so you can enjoy the wafting fragrance without being overpowered by it’s strength. If you live where it won’t survive the winter, grow it in a large pot and bring it inside before frost.

Blooms White flowers in late spring Light Part shade Soil Moist, acid, well-drained Size 3 to 8 ft. tall, 3 to 6 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Of all the fragrant flowering shrubs, lilacs are some of the best loved. And common lilacs are the most fragrant group in the family. Their scent can’t help but trigger warm childhood memories. Head outdoors after a rain when common lilac’s strong, sweet fragrance hangs in the air the longest. Lilacs need at least six hours of sun each day to produce the most blooms. In spring, loads of large, red-purple flowers form on the long stems of ‘Monge’, shown above.

Type Shrub Blooms Red, purple, blue, pink or white flowers in late spring Size 8 to 15 ft. tall, 6 to 12 ft. wide Light Full sun Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

Forsythia (Forsythia spp. and hybrids)

Once shade-tolerant forsythia’s finished flowering, its pest-free foliage will look good all summer long — some varieties even turn purple in fall.

Blooms Yellow or white flowers in early spring Light Full sun to part shade Size 1 to 10 ft. tall, 2 to 12 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)

First pop out the white bottlebrush flowers with a slight honey scent. Then the leaves unfurl quickly so you have both flowers and foliage. In fall comes a second wave of stunning color as the leaves turn the flaming orange and red tones you see in the inset photo above. You just can’t miss it!

Blooms White flowers in midspring Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 3 to 4 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Tree peony (Paeonia hybrid)

The shrub-form relative of the beloved herbaceous peony, the tree peony boasts large single, semi-double or double flowers in white, green, pinks, purple, yellow, orange and rosy reds in late spring into summer. Often fragrant, the blossoms are big and flashy. If the stems are saggy, stake the branches that are heavy with blossoms and remove the wilting flowers.

Type Shrub Blooms Pink, red, white, green, purple, yellow, peach or salmon in spring Light Full sun to part shade Size 4 to 7 ft. tall, 4 to 5 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Native to the Eastern United States, mountain laurel is a compact evergreen shrub with contorted branches and with clusters of pink flower buds that look like perfectly pipes sugar icing and open into cup-shaped clear pink to white flowers in late spring into summer. Mountain laurel prefers acidic soil and can be difficult to get established.

Type Shrub Blooms Red, pink and white in spring Size 3 to 15 ft. tall, 3 to 15 ft. wide Light Full shade to full sun Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Flowering quince (Chaenomeles spp. and hybrids)

Flowering quince does well in acid or heavy clay soil and is a pollinator favorite — expect to see lots of bees and hummingbirds visit its heavy-flowering branches.

Blooms Single or double pink, red-orange or white blooms in early spring Light Full sun to part shade Size 2 to 8 ft. tall, 2 to 10 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Forsythia (Forsythia spp. and hybrids)

Once shade-tolerant forsythia’s finished flowering, its pest-free foliage will look good all summer long — some varieties even turn purple in fall.

Blooms Yellow or white flowers in early spring Light Full sun to part shade Size 1 to 10 ft. tall, 2 to 12 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii)

Get interesting foliage — green leaves have white to creamy yellow margins — and fragrant clusters of blooms with daphne. Just prune back the tips of branches after flowering finishes for more side branching and flowers next spring.

Blooms Fragrant pink blooms open to white in midspring Light Part shade Size 3 to 4 ft. tall, 3 to 6 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)

First pop out the white bottlebrush flowers with a slight honey scent. Then the leaves unfurl quickly so you have both flowers and foliage. In fall comes a second wave of stunning color as the leaves turn the flaming orange and red tones you see in the inset photo above. You just can’t miss it!

Blooms White flowers in midspring Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 3 to 4 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

The spicy, exotic fragrance of a gardenia makes this late-spring shrub worth growing. scent can be overpowering if you have a lot of plants. Plant only one or two plants near a seating area or window, so you can enjoy the wafting fragrance without being overpowered by it’s strength. If you live where it won’t survive the winter, grow it in a large pot and bring it inside before frost.

Blooms White flowers in late spring Light Part shade Soil Moist, acid, well-drained Size 3 to 8 ft. tall, 3 to 6 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Tree peony (Paeonia hybrid)

The shrub-form relative of the beloved herbaceous peony, the tree peony boasts large single, semi-double or double flowers in white, green, pinks, purple, yellow, orange and rosy reds in late spring into summer. Often fragrant, the blossoms are big and flashy. If the stems are saggy, stake the branches that are heavy with blossoms and remove the wilting flowers.

Type Shrub Blooms Pink, red, white, green, purple, yellow, peach or salmon in spring Light Full sun to part shade Size 4 to 7 ft. tall, 4 to 5 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Of all the fragrant flowering shrubs, lilacs are some of the best loved. And common lilacs are the most fragrant group in the family. Their scent can’t help but trigger warm childhood memories. Head outdoors after a rain when common lilac’s strong, sweet fragrance hangs in the air the longest. Lilacs need at least six hours of sun each day to produce the most blooms. In spring, loads of large, red-purple flowers form on the long stems of ‘Monge’, shown above.

Type Shrub Blooms Red, purple, blue, pink or white flowers in late spring Size 8 to 15 ft. tall, 6 to 12 ft. wide Light Full sun Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Native to the Eastern United States, mountain laurel is a compact evergreen shrub with contorted branches and with clusters of pink flower buds that look like perfectly pipes sugar icing and open into cup-shaped clear pink to white flowers in late spring into summer. Mountain laurel prefers acidic soil and can be difficult to get established.

Type Shrub Blooms Red, pink and white in spring Size 3 to 15 ft. tall, 3 to 15 ft. wide Light Full shade to full sun Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Published: Feb. 5, 2019
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