Design

The Best Spring Plants to Grow

Fine Gardening – Issue 204
1. Spider azalea. Photo: courtesy of Suzanne Bulmer

While our entire garden shines in spring, there are a few standouts that steal the show. Here are some of the spring-blooming plants that we look forward to seeing year after year.

1. Spider azalea

Name: Rhododendron stenopetalum ‘Linearifolium’

Zones: 8–10

Bloom time: Late spring

Size: 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Native range: Japan

This is a hard-to-find plant. Both its evergreen foliage and flower petals are strappy and thin. Spider azalea packs a lot of color into a small package.

 

2. Leatherleaf viburnum

Leatherleaf viburnum

Name: Viburnum rhytidophyllum

Zones: 5–8

Bloom time: Midspring

Size: 6 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 12 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; medium, well-drained soil

Native range: Central and western China

The lacy white flowers of this viburnum contrast well with its deeply textured, veiny leaves.

 

3. ‘Fireglow’ euphorbia

orange euphorbia

Name: Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’

Zones: 4–9

Bloom time: Late spring

Size: 1 to 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; dry to medium, well-drained soil

Native range: Central Asia

This is an easy-growing, reliable euphorbia that brings hot summer color to our spring garden with its fiery orange bracts.

 

4. ‘The Honourable Jean Marie de Montague’ rhododendron

bright pink rhododendron

Name: Rhododendron ‘The Honourable Jean Marie de Montague’

Zones: 6b–9

Blom time: Midspring

Size: 5 to 7 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

Native range: Hybrid

It’s unusual to get color like this from a rhododendron. The vivid red flowers are a focal point in this otherwise understated garden bed.

 

5. Corsican hellebore

Corsican hellebore

Name: Helleborus argutifolius

Zones: 6–8

Bloom time: Early spring

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Partial to full shade; moist, well-drained soil

Native range: Corsica, Sardinia

This hellebore blooms for months with pale sea-green flowers drooping above deeply lobed foliage.

 

6. Honey bush

Honey bush

Name: Melianthus major

Zones: 7b–12

Bloom time: Early spring

Size: 8 to 12 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

Native range: South Africa

We love this shrub’s evergreen silvery foliage and burgundy flower spikes. We tell visitors to rub the foliage to release the distinctive peanut butter smell.


British Columbians Patrick and Suzanne Bulmer are lifelong gardeners.

Photos, except where noted: DoreenWynja.com

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