Spring-Blooming Plants

which plants bloom in spring

Spring is my favourite season. I love the fact that the plants in gardens, roadsides, and parks start strutting their stuff, with changes every day. My own gardens don’t disappoint me every spring. In fact, I am known to just wander/putter around enjoying the new growth on a daily basis. If you too love cheery blossoms in spring, here are a few spring-blooming plants to consider for your yard and gardens…


My spring starts off with the star magnolia in my front yard. From afar, the blossoms look like pom poms, brightening up my yard even before the leaves emerge. Up close they are even more spectacular. This tree gets more gorgeous every year. I have complete strangers stopping to take pictures of this spring-blooming favourite.

plants blooming in spring
spring-blooming magnolia

Another magnolia blooms a bit later in my backyard. This beauty is the Ann variety, with blossoms that change in shape as they progress…

Forsythia Plants are Spring-Blooming

After my white star magnolia blooms and drops its flowers, forsythia bushes brighten the neighbourhood with their striking yellow blossoms. My neighbour’s is especially pleasing to me as I enjoy this view from my front windows:

plants blooming in spring

I have a forsythia shrub in my backyard too, but it is still small and not as effectively placed as the beauty above.

Plum Trees

Next to bloom in my gardens are my plum trees, usually. This year their blossoms were barely there thanks to the birds. This is what they are supposed to look like:

plants blooming in spring

Plum trees are very fragrant when blooming too, another sign of spring. Unfortunately, my husband suffers from seasonal allergies, so he does not find them as appealing as I do.

Apple and Crab Apple Trees

Next up in the spring-blooming parade are my McIntosh apple trees. This year they are particularly gorgeous…

…perhaps because the plum trees were not. The apple trees are loaded with bees too; I’m doing my part to keep them thriving!

Around the same time as the apple trees in my backyard, the crab apple tree in my front yard and in yards all across this city is in full bloom, ranging from the palest of pink to light pink to my own darker almost-wine-colored version. Whatever the variety, they are all beautifully spring-like.

Lilac Trees and Bushes

While most lilac trees and bushes are in bloom by now, with their distinct and fragrant blossoms, mine does not bloom until early June. After the plum and apple trees have shown off. These lilacs are still spring bloomers by calendar standards, but not quite a harbinger of spring in my yard.

plants blooming in spring

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses (usually) bloom earlier and for longer than rose bushes, but of course, there are exceptions. My favourite shrub rose, with pale yellow five-lobed petals and lemony yellow centers, is just starting to bloom now while my crab apple tree is still going strong.

spring blooming plants

A few other varieties of pink shrub roses throughout my gardens will wait a few weeks before they decide to bloom.

Roses of the climbing or bushes type wait for the hotter days (and nights) of summer to perform.

Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs are planted in the fall to provide early spring colour in your gardens. Early tulips and daffodils are currently blooming, with allium still working on their strappy leaves and tall stems. The alliums will be blooming soon too, with the later variety of tulips. With summer still a month away, these later tulips and allium are still considered spring-blooming bulbs.


Another spring-blooming shrub is the rhododendron, fast becoming one of my favourite for all of my gardens including my own. They too range in colour, including white, pale pink, hot pink, red, and purply pink.

I have a story that I tell anyone who will listen of how I was introduced to rhododendrons. Currently, I choose them for most of my clients’ part-sun gardens, especially east and northeast-facing ones, their preferred exposure. I have two in my own backyard too, ready to burst out in blossoms any time now…

Other Perennial Plants Blooming in Spring

A few perennials bloom in spring too. A few examples in my gardens are garden sage with pale purple flowers and Jack Frost brunnera which sports green and white heart-shaped leaves and tiny blue flowers:


There are also several groundcovers that bloom in spring. In my gardens that includes sweet woodruff with delicate leaves and tiny white flowers, as well as lamium with variegated leaves and pearl pink blossoms:

Fiddlehead Ferns

These ferns don’t flower as such, but their fronds are fascinating to watch unfurl. Apparently, fiddleheads are delicious to cook and eat, although I have not tried them. This bed is full of ferns, turning into a lush, green focal point in summer:


There are lots of plants to choose from for spring colour in your gardens. Plant bulbs in the fall or perennials and shrubs anytime the ground is warm enough to dig in.

Did Your Forsythia Only Bloom on the Bottom?

did your forsythia only bloom on the bottom?

Forsythias are a harbinger of spring here in our Ottawa area, so we anticipate and appreciate their bright, cheerful yellow blooms. Are you wondering why your forsythia only bloomed on the bottom branches this spring? I have noticed this fact in several gardens, so wondering why that may be.

did your forsythia only bloom on the bottom?

Do You Have a Hardy Variety of Forsythia?

One of my garden-related pet peeves is the fact that many nurseries stock and sell perennial plants that are not cold-hardy in our area. Forsythias are one of them. In my opinion, the “Northern Gold” variety is one of the hardiest, and should survive in the Ottawa area. It is readily available in most nurseries here. Be sure to choose a variety that is hardy to your area when shopping!

Many times though, while the branches and leaves are hardy and resistant to cold, the flower buds are not. This may be the case this year as to why your forsythia only bloomed on the bottom branches this spring. The lower branches (and flower buds) were well insulated by the substantial snowfall we experienced this past winter.

This tiny forsythia bloomed on all its branches because it is so small it was completely insulated over the winter.


Was Your Forsythia Pruned Improperly or Too Late Last Season?

Forsythias, as one of the first shrubs to bloom in spring, should only be pruned after they bloom. If you prune it too late in the season, you risk removing some of the buds that are preparing to bloom the following spring. The new growth after the forsythia blooms is what will be blooming next season, so be careful how much you cut off and where you cut it from.

The general rule of thumb for shrub or tree pruning is this: If it blooms before June, prune it after it blooms. If it blooms after June, prune it in the spring. That is if pruning is even necessary. We seem to have become an over-pruning, over-zealous, perfection-striving, bunch these days. I have met a few gardeners that say they never prune their forsythia, yet get lots of glorious blooms each spring. I would be curious to see if these non-pruned forsythias only bloomed on the bottom branches this spring too.

It’s Not Just the Cold Temperatures But Also the Fluctuations in Temperature That Affect Blooming

When Mother Nature decides to give us a taste of spring in January or February, then slams the door in March, the fluctuations affect our plants. That’s because the thaws trick roots and flower buds into thinking spring is coming, then the cold snap afterward freezes them, killing them in the process.

This variation in weather, including the ice storm a few weeks ago, could very well have something to do with why our forsythias only bloomed on the bottom branches. The flower buds hibernating under the snow had not started their spring process yet so were unharmed by the nasty weather.

I’d love to hear from fellow enthusiasts if your forsythia only bloomed on the bottom branches or if you were lucky enough to have a tree or shrub full of spring cheeriness.

this is what they should look like!

Pussy Willows and Forsythia for Spring Cheerfulness

Nothing screams spring like pussy willows and forsythia

Spring has sprung! In my world, this is anticipated for months. Nothing screams spring quite like pussy willows and forsythia sprigs. I love both, together, for a colorful, cheerful display at any entrance.

Recently, I spotted some pussy willows at my local grocery store and took them to our local hospice to spruce up the containers at the front door. If you cannot find any at a grocery store in your area, check out the roadsides where you might just find some.

Out with the browned, crispy winter displays and in with a new, cheerful, spring-like look. A few (artificial) forsythia sprigs were added for their spring-like, bright yellow cheeriness. I am not usually a fan of artificial flowers, but unfortunately, forsythias are not quite in bloom yet, at least not here in Ottawa. I found these at my local dollar store; the price was right!

Pussy willows and forsythia just seem to belong together, especially in spring displays…

The red dogwood stems and birch branches were left over from the winter arrangements, left in for their additional colour and texture.

Get your spring on! Find some pussy willows and forsythia branches to create some drama at your front door.