Spring Plants: Top 10 For Your Garden

By: Echo Surina  | 
Beautiful spring flowers growing outdoors.
A colorful garden in bloom is beautiful evidence that spring has sprung. See more pictures of annual flowers.

Spring is a time of regeneration and renewal. With each passing day, there's exponentially more and more daylight. The whole world awakens, with animals coming out of hibernation and spring plants transforming from bud or bulb to blossom.

The following springtime plants make this list not only for their exquisite flowers, but also for other noteworthy characteristics. Some entertain the senses with their intoxicating fragrances, while others multiply so quickly, it makes gardening easy. Check out the top ten spring plants to consider during this inspiring season.


10: Primrose

It's fitting to kick off our list of best spring flowers with the primrose. The name means "first rose" because the wildflower is traditionally the first flower of spring. This hardy perennial can be identified by its crimped leaves and petals that surround a bright yellow center. It blooms in a number of colors, including yellow, pink, purple, blue and white.

These early spring bloomers like full sun exposure, but once the weather warms up, they prefer partial shade and cooler temperatures. Slightly acidic soil (pH 6.5) that is rich with compost and leaf mold is best for it. Plant newly purchased primrose in early spring. Simply divide and transplant older plants immediately after they're done blooming.


9: African Violet

Purple African violets blooming outdoors.
Whether it's in your garden or in a pot by your kitchen sink, you can't go wrong with a sturdy, pretty African violet.

Easy to grow and adaptive to indoor conditions, the African violet is one of the more popular flowering houseplants. Florets come in a range of sizes and colors, including deep blue, white, lavender, pink, red and more. Whether you plant them in the ground outdoors or in a pot next to your kitchen sink, make sure they get indirect sunlight.

The ideal daytime temperature ranges between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (23.8 and 29.4 degrees Celsius), while nighttime temperatures should be between 10 and 15 degrees cooler. Keep soil loose and well-drained. Mixing in sphagnum peat moss is recommended. Re-pot African violets as they grow in size.


8: Daffodil

Don't let the daffodil's ruffled petals and delicate appearance fool you — it is as "tough as nails," according to the National Gardening Association. These dainty-looking but hardy companions easily resist common garden pests like gophers, rabbits and meadow mice. Smaller types of daffodils closer to the species' wild form dependably bloom without much maintenance.

These cheery yellow flowers can tolerate many kinds of soil but prefer cooler, moister areas in the garden. Plant bulbs in the fall, and come late spring, watch them bloom into bursts of yellow, pink, peach or white — and always with an orange trumpet in the center. When planting daffodil bulbs, cluster them together by the dozen for maximum visual impact.


7: Tulip

Red, yellow, and purple tulips gaze up toward the sun's rays.
Tulips are available in a wide palette of colors.

The tulip is the great mixer of any early spring garden. Since they're available in all colors of the rainbow except blue, tulips are a great way to paint your garden canvas. Mix them in with annuals or perennials, making sure to put shorter plants in the foreground. Tulip varieties range from short to very tall, and all are fit for cutting.

In late fall, plant bulbs in a sunny spot that gets good drainage. (If you experience mild winters where you live, December may also be an acceptable time to plant.) Plant tulips 4 inches (10 centimeters) deep for shorter varieties and about 8 inches (20 centimeters) deep for taller types. Always face the flat side of the bulb down.


6: Crocus

Early risers, most crocuses pop up at the tail end of winter or beginning of spring, sometimes even shooting up through the snow. Only 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 centimeters) tall, these cup-shaped flowers are popular in gardens or on lawn borders. You can spot them in purple, blue, yellow, white and striped varieties.

They multiply over time, so select strains that mature at different times to prolong the bloom season. Find a spot in your yard with well-drained soil and full sun to minimal shade, and plant crocus corms there in October. First, loosen the soil with a garden fork, mix in approximately 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of compost, then plant the corms 4 inches (10 centimeters) deep, pointy side up.


5: Dahlia

Several buckets full of pink, red, and white dahlia flowers.
Dahlias are thirsty for sunlight, but the extra effort to give this flower what it demands is well worth it.

There are about 30 dahlia species, and each one offers an explosion of color for your garden. Dahlias can have disk- or ray-shaped flowers in purple, red, white or yellow — depending on whether they're ornamental or wild. Most have segmented and toothed leaves.

These striking flowers can be grown from seeds or tubers. Just sprinkle seeds over potting soil in a low, flat container. Then, lightly cover with more potting soil, making sure to water it carefully. Sprouts will pop up in less than two weeks.


Tubers, on the other hand, need to be planted when the ground temperature is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius), which is anytime from mid-April through May for most parts of the northern hemisphere. Plant dahlias where they'll soak in at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day; less sunlight translates to taller plants with fewer flowers. Soil should be well-drained and slightly acidic (6.5 to 7.0 pH).

4: Geranium

The geranium isn't only the ultimate multipurpose spring plant; it's also one of the best early spring flowers. Perhaps you've seen geraniums spilling over a window box. Their red, pink, blue, purple and other bright colors are hard to miss. But these bold beauties also make great garden borders, and you can use them to fill in as ground cover or to decorate rock gardens.

"Geranium" is an umbrella term that includes an eclectic group of flowers, annuals and perennials. Some kinds enjoy sun and grow to be several feet tall, while others like shade and stay low to the ground. Despite these differences, geraniums are characterized by their ease of care and ability to multiply readily, as well as their resistance to deer. When planting geraniums, make sure the hole you dig is twice the size of the pot. Once the plant has flowered, cut it back to stimulate new growth.


3: Petunia

An overgrowth of pink petunias blooming on an outdoor trellis.
Perky petunias will provide your garden with long-lasting color from springtime until the first frost.

Soft petals and an exquisite fragrance make petunias a natural choice for the garden. Whether you plant them in containers or in the ground, petunias will grace your outdoor spaces from springtime until the first frost. Wait until the soil warms to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) before you transplant petunias into your garden. There are hundreds of varieties that are categorized based on size and growth habit.

Well draining soil is more important than rich soil when it comes to maintaining your petunias' health. These flowering plants need a minimum of five solid hours of sun each day, as ample light is the single most important factor affecting how well they grow. Remember to remove faded flowers by deadheading, or pinching or cutting off the flower, to encourage more blooms and help the whole plant stay healthy and fresh.


2: Clematis

Veronica's Choice is a special type of blooming clematis that's part of the ranunculaceae family. The vines of this deciduous climber can top 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall, while the flowers commonly reach 9 inches (22.9 centimeters) in diameter. Beloved for its enormous mauve flowers with lavender streaks, the buds of Veronica's Choice open in early spring and summer.

These beautiful spring flowers are considered hardy in zones 3 to 9, as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture. Their spring bulbs do best when planted in moist, well-drained soil where they get partial sun exposure. Right before it blooms in the springtime, prune the vine to give it the shape you desire.


1: Wisteria

Purple wisteria flowers cascading over a white picket fence and stone wall.
Wisteria will infuse your garden with a lovely, delicate fragrance.

Wisteria are twining vines with huge clusters of cascading flowers that are pale purple, white, blue, or red. Its famously fragrant flowers and vigorous growth rate make this spring flower a particularly attractive option for any yard.

Provide ideal conditions — deep, moist soil and full sun to light shade — and don't be surprised if your plant grows higher than 10 feet (3 meters) in one year. Be prepared to prune it heavily so that it doesn't take over surrounding vegetation. Plant wisteria 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.6 meters) apart in the spring or fall. The hole should only be as deep as the root ball and about twice as wide. These spring blooms will turn heads!

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • The African Violet Society of America, Inc. (AVSA). (Feb. 4, 2010). https://africanvioletsocietyofamerica.org/
  • Brown, Deborah. "Growing Petunias." University of Minnesota Extension. (Feb. 4, 2010). https://extension.umn.edu/flowers/growing-petunias
  • "Clematis." Backyard Gardener. (Feb. 4, 2010). http://www.backyardgardener.com/plantname/pda_b49c.html
  • Lerner, B. Rosie and Michael N. Dana. "African Violet Care." Department of Horticulture, Purdue University. March 2001. (Feb. 4, 2010). http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-10.PDF
  • "Lily." National Gardening Association. 2010. (Feb. 4, 2010). http://www.garden.org/plantguide/?q=show&id=2066
  • "Primrose." Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland. BTCV. 2008. (Feb. 4, 2010). http://www.cvni.org/wildflowernursery/wildflowers/primrose
  • Swan Island Dahlias. (Feb. 4, 2010). http://www.dahlias.com/howtogrowdahlias.aspx
  • "Tulip." Garden Guides. 2010. (Feb. 4, 2010). http://www.gardenguides.com/282-tulip-garden-basics-flower-bulb-liliaceae.html