The most reliable indicator of approaching milder weather is early spring blooms. These plants will add a burst of color before other plants emerge from a long winter’s dormancy. When you see these blooms, you’ll know it’s almost time to start enjoying the colors of your yard again!

After a long, chilly winter, early spring flowers lift our spirits just when we need them. Here are five early bloomers, which are cherished for their capacity to offer us an early start on the growing season.


Forsythia has some of the first flowers to bloom in spring. Before the leaves bud, branches burst with golden yellow flowers, typically around the same time as daffodils and other spring flowers. 

These attractive shrubs with arching branches will provide early spring flowers year after year with little work on your part. Forsythia stays in bloom for roughly 2 weeks. The perfect time to prune forsythia is shortly after flowering. Most forsythias need plenty of space, so plant as a single plant, or mass them together in a border.


Rhododendrons are shrubs that typically grow along woodland edges and enjoy a similar situation in the garden. They thrive in partial sunlight, preferably morning sun. If nearby trees provide shade with branches 20 to 30 feet above the ground, Rhododendrons will thrive underneath.

Though Rhododendrons can be low-growing ground plants or large trees with an evergreen or deciduous habit, most grow as shrubs in the Midwest (including Chicago) because of their lack of cold hardiness. That said, there are a number of cold-hardy varieties available, each one with a unique flower color, ranging from pink, purple, white, orange, and yellow. The planting location needs good drainage and is free of other competing plants, such as maples, whose roots are close to the surface.


The brightly colored flowers with “faces” known as pansies are perfect for both spring and fall gardening. They have overlapping heart-shaped petals and come in various vibrant, attractive hues and designs.

They work well in containers, borders, and as ground cover and are a reliable flower for color virtually all year long. Pansies look lovely planted alongside other cool-season flowers like violas, primroses, trailing lobelia, and sweet alyssum, as well as on their own in monochromatic or mixed-color arrangements.


Having been planted in the early spring, Hyacinths can give the garden a burst of pastel hues as most plants are just beginning to emerge. 

Each stalk is covered with rows of delicate blossoms drenched in colors like blue, violet, white, pink, and yellow, frequently linked with Easter and spring. The perfume of hyacinth is initially soft and fragrant when it first starts to bloom, but when it blooms open, it becomes potent and irresistible. Each hue is combined with a distinct scent.

Bleeding Heart

The classic Bleeding Heart, an elegant perennial with rose-pink, nodding, heart-shaped flowers dangling off of arching stems, is one of the most well-known and well-loved of the spring ephemerals. Children love Bleeding Heart’s distinctive blossoms, and the plant’s exquisite appearance accentuates cottage gardens and quiet retreats.

The plants develop into loose clumps that are 4 feet broad and 3 feet tall. They will decay if the soil is excessively damp and not humus-rich and well-drained. Early in the spring, the reddish new foliage pops up from the ground and develops into pixie-dusted green leaves on fleshy stems.


Take advantage of these lovely early spring plants, which can’t wait for warm weather, to jumpstart the growing season of the year. To ensure that your yard or garden is vibrant with brilliant flowers later in the year, plant other late-blooming perennials close by.

About The NL Group

The NL Group is a premier landscaping and design firm in Barrington, Illinois dedicated to providing excellence in landscape management for homeowners throughout the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Let us turn your outdoor kitchen dream into reality.  Contact us today!