Plants That Produce Pre-Season Blooms

These beauties can help brighten the dull landscape between winter and spring.
pre-season_hellebore

pre-season_hellebore

Hellebores are in their element in winter when little else is in bloom.

Flowering Hellebores

As we lean into the ups and downs of late-winter temperatures, there always seems to be a dead space between seasons, when the landscape looks especially brown and bare, and we ache to see something in bloom. If you don't have any of the plants shown in the following pages, you may want to consider adding them to your shopping list. Next year, late winter in your landscape could be a riot of color and rebirth.

Upright Blooms

pre-season_hellebore2

pre-season_hellebore2

Depending on the variety, hellebores bloom anytime between December and mid-March.

Most hellebores have nodding flowers. 'HGC Josef Lemper' holds its blooms upright.

Budding Evergreens

pre-season_pieris-japonica

pre-season_pieris-japonica

During winter, the reddish buds of this broadleaf evergreen, Pieris japonica , are also ornamental.

Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) blooms in white, pink and reddish-pink fountains of flowers in later winter to early spring. USDA Zones 4b to 7.

Flowering Shrub

Yellow Winter Flowers Buttercup Winterhazel Monrovia

Yellow Winter Flowers Buttercup Winterhazel Monrovia

©Image courtesy of Monrovia

Image courtesy of Monrovia

These yellow flowers will bloom in late winter.

Buttercup winter hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora) produces hanging tassels of yellow flowers in late winter. A wide-spreading, medium-sized shrub (4 to 6 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide), the buttercup winter hazel can handle full sun to light shade. USDA Zones 5 to 9. Image courtesy of Monrovia

Late-Winter Flowers

pre-season_witchhazel

pre-season_witchhazel

Witch hazel is an underused plant in American landscapes.

Witch hazel's bright yellow (or orange or white) spidery flowers cover bare branches in late winter. Here, common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), USDA Zones 3b to 8(9).

Cherry Blossoms

pre-season_cherry_okame

pre-season_cherry_okame

'Okame' often blooms at the same time as some of the witch hazels.

'Okame' is one of the earliest flowering cherries to bloom. USDA Zones 6b to 9.

Colorful Stems

pre-season_japanese-maple-sango-kaku

pre-season_japanese-maple-sango-kaku

This maple's bark color intensifies in winter.

The flaming red stems of this coral bark Japanese maple 'Sango Kaku' cradle a robin's nest in need of rebuilding for spring. The leaves of this small deciduous tree (20 to 25 feet tall) turn yellow in fall. USDA Zones 6 to 8.

Yellow Tufts

pre-season_cornus-officinalis-sunsphere

pre-season_cornus-officinalis-sunsphere

This Japanese cornel dogwood will bloom in very early spring.

Yellow flower tufts cover this Japanese cornel dogwood (Cornus officinalis 'Sunsphere') in very early spring. USDA Zones 5 to 8.

Fragrant Flowers

pre-season_edgeworthia-chrysantha

pre-season_edgeworthia-chrysantha

This shrub will mature to grow about 7 feet tall.

The giant-leaf paper plant (Edgeworthia chrysantha), a cousin to daphne, bears very fragrant white and yellow flowers on bare stems in winter. It is also called the paperbush plant. USDA Zones 7 to 9.

Fall Plantings

pre-season-Galanthus-nivalis

pre-season-Galanthus-nivalis

A combination of perennials can keep your garden colorful every month of the year.

Of all the late-winter bloomers you've seen on these pages, the snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is the only one that has to be planted in fall. Plant the bulb at the same time you plant spring-flowering bulbs. A combination of perennials will keep your garden in bloom all year.

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Flowering witch hazel and honeysuckle varieties liven up a garden during cold weather.

Timing Spring Bulb Planting

Spring-flowering bulbs need to be planted in fall in order to bloom come show time. The bulbs need a certain amount of time to get established before winter's freezing weather sets in, and they need enough time exposed to cool soil temperatures to be properly chilled. 

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