18 Spring-Flowering Bushes That Wake Up Your Garden After Winter

purple lilac flowers in bloom
Photo: Kindra Clineff

Your spring landscape will shine when these gorgeous shrubs begin blooming. Many of them also have beautiful foliage that is variegated or evergreen, so they'll continue to add some color to your yard even after their flowers fade.

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Viburnum

white and pink clusters of viburnum flowers
Denny Schrock

There are dozens of viburnum species and varieties to choose from. Most bloom in shades of pink and white, and many offer a pleasant fragrance ('Korean Spice' viburnum has a deliciously spicy and sweet smell). Some viburnum has great fall foliage color. Some varieties of viburnum, like 'Eastern Snowball,' can even look like hydrangeas when in bloom.

Name: Viburnum selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall wide, depending on type

Zones: 2-9, depending on species

Test Garden Tip: Attract birds to your yard in summer with varieties like American cranberry viburnum, arrowwood, and doublefile viburnum.

02 of 18

Mock Orange

close up of mock orange flower
Denny Schrock

Along with hyacinths and lilacs, mock orange is one of the spring flowering bushes' best scented blooms (even though they're not related to citrus, they smell just like orange blossoms). This easy-growing shrub produces pure white blooms you can smell from several feet away. Not every species of mock orange has the same strong fragrance, though, so be sure to do a little research before heading to the garden center.

Name: Philadelphus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall and wide, depending on species

Zones: 3-9, depending on species

Test Garden Tip: Short on space? Look for dwarf selections such as 'Miniature Snowflake', which stays less than three feet tall and wide.

03 of 18

Mountain Laurel

Kalmia 'Tinkerbell' pink mountain laurel
Jeff Mcnamara

In late spring and early summer, mountain laurel is covered in showy clusters of pink, red, or white flowers. It's a plant you'll want to take a close look at; the buds have an interesting, intricate shape, almost like tiny stars. You can also find varieties with unique colors, like 'Minuet,' which has light pink flowers with a bold red stripe.

Name: Kalmia latifolia selections

Growing Conditions: Sun or shade and moist, well-drained soil with an acidic pH

Size: To 10 feet tall wide

Zones: 6-9

Test Garden Tip: As beautiful as mountain laurel is, all parts of the plant are poisonous, so keep children and pets away from the plant.

04 of 18

Deutzia

pink Deutzia shrub
Peter Krumhardt

An underused spring flowering bush that deserves more attention, deutzia is a hydrangea relative that produces showy clusters of pink or white flowers in spring or summer, depending on the variety. Some varieties also have a sweet scent, so plant them near a window or along a walkway, so you can enjoy the fragrance they'll add to your garden.

Name: Deutzia selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun or light shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 10 feet tall wide, depending on type

Zones: 5-8, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: 'Chardonnay Pearls' is a lovely, easy-to-grow selection with fragrant white flowers and golden-green foliage.

05 of 18

Bridalwreath Spirea

white Spirea Spiraea
Peter Krumhardt

You probably saw this shrub growing in your grandma's garden. Bridalwreath spirea exudes charm and is a perfect pick for cottage gardens. Bridalwreath has clusters of pure white flowers in mid-to late spring and develops bright yellow, red, and orange leaves in fall.

Name: Spiraea prunifolia

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To six feet tall and wide

Zones: 5-8

Test Garden Tip: Bridalwreath spirea is drought tolerant, making it a good choice for low-water gardens.

06 of 18

Heath

pink heather shrubs
Michael Jensen

Use heath, also called heather, to bring bright doses of color to your late winter or early spring landscape. Heath is a tiny, compact shrub ideal for rock gardens and other spots with well-drained acidic soil. When it blooms, it produces huge numbers of pink, white, or red flowers.

Name: Erica carnea

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 10 inches tall and two feet wide

Zones: 6-8

Test Garden Tip: Plant heath in a sheltered spot to prevent drying winter winds from turning the foliage brown.

07 of 18

Camellia

Camellia japonica 'Elegans' with pink blooms
Erica George Dines

Camellia has stunning rose-like flowers in shades of pink, red, and white in fall, late winter, or spring, depending on the variety. It's one of the most eye-catching evergreen shrubs. Camellias grow well alongside rhododendrons and azaleas because they all have similar soil and sunlight needs.

Name: Camellia selections

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained acidic soil

Size: To 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide

Zones: 6-9, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: Look for the Ice Angels series of camellias if you live in Zone 6; these are the hardiest varieties.

08 of 18

Forsythia

yellow forsythia shrub
Bill Stites

Few plants dramatically show off the season as forsythia, a favorite spring flowering bush for many gardeners. It seems to burst into bloom overnight. This bold shrub covers itself with bright, golden-yellow flowers you can see from a block away.

Name: Forsythia selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 10 feet tall and wide, depending on type

Zones: 4-9, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: Add interest after forsythia blooms fade with varieties like 'Citrus Swizzle', 'Fiesta',' or 'Kumson', which all have variegated foliage.

09 of 18

Fothergilla

dwarf fothergilla
Doug Hetherington

It's fothergilla to the rescue if you want a beautiful blooming shrub that thrives in the shade. This compact plant really delivers: It produces clusters of white, fragrant flowers in spring, then the leaves turn bold shades of red, yellow, and orange in autumn.

Name: Fothergilla selections

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To six feet tall wide, depending on type

Zones: 5-9, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: 'Blue Shadow' looks extra pretty in the garden because it has silvery-blue foliage that holds its striking color into fall.

10 of 18

Witch Hazel

Sandra witch hazel
Dency Kane

Among the spring flowering bushes to bloom in cold-winter climates, witch hazels bloom in mid-to late winter. They produce spidery flowers in cheery shades of red, gold, and orange. Some varieties are also fragrant and add a slightly spicy scent to your garden. Depending on the type, witch hazel leaves can turn deep orange, red, or yellow in the fall.

Name: Hamamelis vernalis selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall wide

Zones: 5-8

Test Garden Tip: Its fragrant flowers make witch hazel a particularly good choice for forcing branches indoors for winter color.

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Lilac

purple lilac flowers in bloom
Kindra Clineff

Spring wouldn't be the same without lilacs, at least in northern regions. These plants produce lush sprigs of sweetly scented blooms in shades of pink, purple, lavender, and white. Lilacs also make stunning cut flowers, so you can enjoy the great fragrance indoors and out.

Name: Syringa selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 20 feet tall wide

Zones: 3-8, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: Look for reblooming varieties such as 'Bloomerang', 'Josee', and littleleaf lilac to extend the season into summer and fall.

12 of 18

Loropetalum

loropetalum shrub
Denny Schrock

Lilacs might make Southern gardeners envious, but gorgeous loropetalum will certainly cause similar feelings for gardeners in Northern regions. This flowering shrub produces clusters of fragrant pink flowers surrounded by burgundy foliage in early spring, which can turn orange in autumn.

Name: Loropetalum selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To six feet tall wide

Zones: 7-9

Test Garden Tip: Varieties with burgundy foliage look stunning alongside silver-leafed plants like Russian sage.

13 of 18

Azalea

Autumn Chiffon Encore azalea
Cameron Sadeghpour

Beloved fixtures of Southern gardens, azaleas have become available for gardeners in nearly every region thanks to plant breeders. You can find azaleas in almost every color imaginable (including yellow, red, pink, purple, white, and orange). Their large, star-shaped blooms can look almost tropical.

Name: Rhododendron selections

Growing Conditions: Sun or shade, depending on type, and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet or more tall and wide, depending on type

Zones: 4-10, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: Grow plants from the Lights series if you need a cold-hardy azalea; grow the Encore series if you want an extra-long bloom season.

14 of 18

Oregon Grape Holly

Mahonia aquifolium
Cynthia Haynes

A favorite in the Northwest, Oregon grape holly is a tough shrub featuring rich evergreen foliage, bright yellow spring flowers, and clusters of deep blue fruits in fall. It's resistant to pests like deer and rabbits, but the berries attract birds, making it a good choice for wildlife gardens that welcome pollinators.

Name: Mahonia aquifolium

Growing Conditions: Part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To six feet tall wide

Zones: 6-9

Test Garden Tip: Creeping mahonia (Mahonia repens) is a groundcover version hardy to Zone 5.

15 of 18

Ninebark

Ninebark Physocarpus
David Speer

Thanks to beautiful varieties with rich purple or bright gold foliage, ninebark is a flowering shrub that is just as popular because of its leaves. It produces fluffy clusters of white blooms in late spring and early summer. The blossoms usually show up best on dark-leafed selections like 'Diablo' and 'Center Glow.'

Name: Physocarpus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 12 feet tall wide, depending on type

Zones: 3-7

Here's a hint: Ninebark is one of the toughest shrubs around; it tolerates heat and drought like a champ.

16 of 18

Rhododendron

Purple and white Rhododendron flowers
Laurie Black

This blooming treasure offers giant clusters of springtime flowers in various colors, including warm yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, and whites. Rhododendrons also have evergreen foliage, so you can count on these plants to add lushness to your garden year-round.

Name: Rhododendron selections

Growing Conditions: Sun or shade and moist, well-drained soil, depending on type

Size: To 15 feet tall wide, depending on type

Zones: 4-9, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: Enjoy rhododendron flowers for months by growing early, mid-, and late-season varieties in your garden.

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Beautybush

Kolkwitzia amabilis beautybush
Denny Schrock

Not familiar with beautybush? You're not alone. But this shrub's arching branches decorated with pink, bell-shaped flowers are worth adding to your garden (and it'll grow quickly, too). This easy-to-grow shrub usually blooms in late spring and early summer.

Name: Kolkwitzia amabilis

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide

Zones: 5-9

Test Garden Tip: Beautybush holds up well to drought and is deer resistant.

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Weigela

Cu Pink Var Weigela
Mark Kane

Though once grown for their springtime displays of pink, red, or white blooms, new weigelas shine with foliage so colorful it can rival the flowers. You can even find variegated varieties (like 'Eyecatcher') with a bright yellow stripe around each leaf's edge.

Name: Weigela selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To six feet tall wide, depending on type

Zones: 4-9, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: 'My Monet', 'Wine and Roses', and 'Eyecatcher' are three outstanding newer varieties with gorgeous foliage from spring to fall.

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