Winter seems like the longest season of the year. The days are short and can be so gray with what seems like weeks between opportunities to see the sun. Happily, we can look to our gardens for signs that spring is about to arrive. There are bulbs and early perennials that pop up at the start of the growing season. It is the flowering shrubs in our landscape, however, that truly announce winter is finally coming to an end.
See fresh signs of the imminent arrival of spring every year in your garden with one of these beautiful flowering shrubs.
P.J.M. Elite Rhododendron Among the most reliable flowering evergreen shrubs for Northern gardens, P.J.M. Elite Rhododendron is also one of the most beautiful. It delights in early spring as the big buds unfurl to reveal lovely clusters of lavender-purple blossoms. Being smaller in stature than many other Rhododendron varieties, you can tuck P.J.M. Elite in your garden with early-season perennials. Zones 4-8
Companion Plant Idea Enjoy P.J.M. Elite Rhododendron under the shade of Royal Star Magnolia, a magnificent large shrub or small tree that shows off a profusion of starry flowers in early spring.
Springshine™ Forsythia Forsythia is one of spring’s most iconic shrubs. Fresh selections like Springshine™ make it easier to design with than ever. Springshine™ bursts into bloom in early spring like old-school varieties. But it bears golden-yellow flowers from the tops of the stems all the way down to the base. Its dwarf habit—only 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide—allows it to fit anywhere in your garden. Zones 4-9
Companion Plant Idea Site Springshine™ Forsythia with Carsten’s Wintergold Mugo Pine. This low-maintenance evergreen offers golden-yellow needles throughout the winter. It starts to go green after Forsythia ends its show.
Jelena Witch Hazel What better way to celebrate spring than with cheerful fragrant flowers? Jelena Witch Hazel offers just that, bringing beauty to the garden, even on the grayest days. Its copper-colored spidery blooms clothe the stems, giving the shrub a distinctive look you can see from yards away. Get closer to it to take in the blossoms’ delightful form and spicy fragrance. Zones 5-9
Companion Plant Idea Enjoy Jelena Witch Hazel with Little Rascal® Holly. This no-fuss dwarf evergreen shrub turns a lovely shade of purple green over winter. It accents the Witch Hazel flowers.
Creeping Oregon Grape Looking to add more North American native plants to your garden? Be sure to include this low-growing, underappreciated evergreen shrub! Come early spring, it brightens shaded spots with clusters of golden-yellow flowers. When pollinated, they form attractive clusters of blue-purple fruits that bring birds and other wildlife into your garden. Zones 5-9
Companion Plant Idea Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea is a North American native plant that enjoys similar growing conditions. In summer Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea offers white flowers and in autumn, its foliage turns spectacular shades of mahogany purple.
Pink Dawn Viburnum Worth growing for its fragrance alone, you will also love the classic beauty of Pink Dawn viburnum. In early spring its clusters of hot pink buds open to reveal showy cotton-candy pink flowers before the new leaves begin to unfurl. Pink Dawn Viburnum delights a second time in autumn when its foliage turns festive shades of red and purple. Zones 5-8
Companion Plant Idea Keep the fragrance coming in your garden by pairing Pink Dawn Viburnum with Little Darling® Lilac, a dwarf selection that blooms in spring and autumn.
Enchanted Forest® Impish Elf™ Pieris Enchanted Forest® Impish Elf™ Pieris is among the most adorable evergreen spring-flowering shrubs. The bright pink, bell-shaped blooms open from pink-purple buds and hang gracefully above its foliage. After its flowers fade, its new leaves emerge a rich shade of red. Zones 6-8
Companion Plant Idea Accent Pieris with rich purple Heuchera, such as Sirens’ Song™ Dark Night. In mild-winter areas, this perennial’s evergreen foliage is an ideal foil for Pieris blooms.
Moonlight Parfait® Winter Daphne This shrub is spectacular in all seasons as its dark green foliage is boldly variegated in creamy yellow. Moonlight Parfait® Winter Daphne delights in early spring with its scented rose-pink flowers. At a tidy 4 feet tall and wide, it is perfect for planting along shaded walkways where you can take advantage of its luscious scent. Zones 6-9
Companion Plant Idea Ivory Prince Hellebore also offers evergreen foliage and an early-season bloom time. Both plants prefer a shaded spot with moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
Southern Moon® Yedda Hawthorn Celebrate spring in mild-winter climates with Southern Moon® Yedda Hawthorn. This evergreen shrub shows off rich, dark green leaves that add appeal to the garden all year long. Come spring, its flower buds open to reveal fragrant white blossoms in cheery clusters. Enjoy it as a hedge, living screen, or specimen plant. Zones 7-10
Companion Plant Idea Tuscan Blue Rosemary appreciates the same growing conditions as Yedda Hawthorn. Rosemary begins blooming in spring with lovely lavender-blue flowers on its scented foliage.
Razzleberri® Fringe Flower It is hard to name a time when Razzleberri® Fringe Flower does not delight in the garden. It begins blooming in early spring and extends its show of spidery, raspberry-red blossoms into the summer. When not in bloom, you are sure to love the rich burgundy-purple tones of its new growth as it pushes out new leaves. Zones 7-9
Companion Plant Idea For a look you will love all year long, pair Razzleberri® Fringe Flower with Double Shot® Watermelon Azalea. Both bear eye-catching pink blossoms and evergreen foliage and appreciate a partially shaded spot.
Nuccio’s Bella Rossa Camellia The queen of the early-spring garden—at least in mild-winter regions— Nuccio’s Bella Rossa Camellia is spectacular. She displays extra-large, 4-inch-wide crimson-red flowers at winter’s end, continuing through mid-spring. You are sure to love it even outside of spring thanks to its richly colored evergreen foliage. Zones 8-10
Companion Plant Idea First Love® Gardenia picks up the show as Nuccio’s Bella Rossa Camellia ends. Both thrive in a partially shaded spot. They enjoy moist, slightly acidic soil that is well-drained and rich in organic matter.