The Best Spring Flowering Shrubs

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Forsythia bursts into a mass of yellow blooms in late winter or spring. Flowering is brief but spectacular. For early cut flowers, you can clip a few branches in late winter and force them into bloom indoors. It looks good in a woodland setting and can be used for espalier.

Winter Daphne

Daphne odora

Winter daphne blooms in clusters of highly fragrant, light purple flowers in late winter or spring. The shrub is naturally globe-shaped, but light pruning after flowering is sometimes necessary to maintain shape. This is not a good plant to grow around small children since the bark and leaves are poisonous.



These cranberry bush relatives produce fragrant flowers in spring and a profusion of colorful berries in fall. They need little pruning, and the foliage turns to a rich red in fall.


Like azaleas, camellias need an acid soil, but if this need is met, they are relatively carefree. Flowers vary quite a bit in size, from 2-1/2 inches to 5 inches in diameter. Blooms vary in color from white to pink to red. They make an elegant border for a woodland area, or a good specimen plant. Though for the most part they are only hardy in zones 7-8, they grow well in containers and can be brought indoors for the winter in colder areas.



Lilacs add color and fragrance to the garden through most of the spring. The size of the different varieties varies enormously — from 4-20 feet. If yours becomes overgrown you can simply cut if off at ground level and let it regrow. To have flowers every year, cut out the flowerheads as soon as the blossoms fade.

Flowering Quince

Chaenomeles japonica

The very early white, pink or red flowers resemble apple blossoms. The flowers are followed by aromatic, greenish-yellow fruit that makes a tasty jelly. This shrub is great for training against a wall.



These spring beauties are one of the most popular landscape shrubs to grace southern gardens. Azaleas are member of the Rhododendron family. In common usage, rhododendrons and azaleas are differentiated by the size and shape of the foliage, with the leaves of azaleas being smaller. Rhododendron leaves are longer and leathery, and rhododendrons thrive farther north than azaleas.