What shrubs bloom in early spring?


What shrubs bloom in early spring?


Several species of shrubs can help get your spring off to a colorful start.  These multi-stemmed woody plants vary in size and often bloom before the leaves emerge in spring. 

Vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) is a large shrub growing 8 to 10 feet tall and is usually the first shrub to bloom in Iowa.  Its yellow to reddish-brown flowers have strap-like petals that appear in February and March in Iowa.

vernal witchhazel
Early spring blooming shrubs like vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) are welcome bursts of color after a long winter

Corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas) is a large shrub growing 20 to 25 feet tall and is another early bloomer with small, yellow flowers in round, 3/4-inch-wide clusters appearing in March that then develop into edible red fruit in summer. 

The star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) produces white, fragrant, 3- to 4-inch-diameter flowers in April, that are sometimes damaged by a late frost or freeze. Growing 10 to 12 feet tall, plant star magnolia in area with eastern and northern exposures that will not warm too quickly and encourage early bloom in spring.

Other Early Spring Blooming Shrubs

Other early spring blooming shrubs include:

  • goat willow (Salix caprea),
  • pussy willow (Salix discolor),
  • forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia),
  • ‘Northern Lights’ Azalea (Rhododendron hybrids),
  • Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa),
  • 'PJM' rhododendron (Rhododendron hybrids),
  • flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa),
  • fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.),
  • white forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum),
  • spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and
  • pearlbush (Exochorda spp.).
Answered by
  • Specialist
  • Consumer Horticulture Extension
Last updated on
March 19, 2024