Posted by: Dennis Hinkamp on May 4, 2007

Plant Perennials for Spring Bloom Boon

Answer by: Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension Horticulturist
Spring-blooming perennials are some of the first plants to bring color back into the landscape, and now is a good time to plant them. Most spring bloomers are easy to grow and adapt to varying growing conditions. Consider planting one or some of these.
·        Pig squeak (Bergenia cordifolia) has very large leaves, which are its major attraction. This semi-evergreen’s large, shiny foliage turns maroon in color in the winter. When it blooms in the spring, it sends up a stalk with small white and pink flowers.
·        Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) is a relative of the old-fashioned bleeding heart. This perennial is not often grown in Northern Utah, but can be found in shady, moist spots in some landscapes. Its blossoms are white with a touch of cream and have delicate foliage.
·        Several plants are called creeping buttercup, but Ranunculus repens is the spring blooming perennial. It makes an attractive groundcover and produces yellow flowers all spring. However, it is classified as a weed in several states, so keep it in check if adding it to your yard.
·        Foxglove (Digitalis) is famous for its tall spikes of color that emerge in late spring. It grows well in shady locations.
·        Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is a familiar early blooming perennial. Its purple, blue, magenta and white blossoms in the early spring are quite spectacular. These perennials are ideal for creeping over walls or down hillsides.
·        Candytuft (Iberis) is sturdy enough to be called a shrub. This semi-evergreen does not die back to the ground in the winter, and is covered with white flowers for several weeks in the spring. Newer varieties even dabble at producing flowers throughout the summer.
·        There are two plants known as rockcress, and both low-growing plants bloom in the spring. Alpine rockcress (Arabis alpina) has white flowers and works well as an accent plant. Common or purple rockcress (Aubrieta deltoidea) comes in a purple to rose-colored variety. Both plants look great in the spring, but should be planted with perennials that look good during the summer and into the fall, because rockcress does not.
·        Other early spring bloomers to consider include columbine (Aquilegia), basket-of-gold (Aurinia), forget-me-nots (Myosotis) and the ever-popular dianthus. They all have blossoms for about three to four weeks. Plant them with summer and fall-blooming perennials so that once they quit blooming, they can gradually fade into the background.
Direct column topics to Julene Reese, Utah State University Extension writer, Logan, UT 84322-4900, 435-797-0810;


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