Bloom time: Late January to May
Height: 12-18 inches
All-star qualities: This long-blooming spring beauty, also called the Lenten rose, features exotic single or double flowers in a vast array of colors, often with dramatic contrasting stamens and interiors. (See Hellebore Flowers Offer Beautiful Late-Winter Blooms.) The flowers may appear even before the snow melts and will last two months or longer. In mild climates, the glossy dark-green leaves remain evergreen and can be used as a groundcover.
Best locations: Hellebores grow best in sites protected from extreme conditions, such as cold winter winds and full sunlight. They are ideal for brightening up shady locations under trees or shrubs and look stunning incorporated into woodland gardens.
Growing tips: Hellebores are easy to propagate by dividing or by allowing clumps to spread through self-seeding. To encourage the growth of new foliage, which can be enjoyed after the bloom season, cut back the stems after the flowers fade.
Bloom time: February to March
Height: 6-12 inches
All-star qualities: This defiant cold-hardy plant isn’t the least bit intimated by Old Man Winter, and will often push its ethereal white flowers up through a blanket of snow. Under ideal growing conditions, snowdrops will naturalize freely to form sweeping drifts of color. Read more reasons to love snowdrops.
Best locations: Snowdrops prefer cooler climates and light shade, making them the perfect choice for woodland gardens where they can be planted under deciduous trees that will leaf out later in the spring. Their relatively short stature also makes them good additions to rock gardens and borders.
Growing tips: For the best massing effects, plant snowdrops in clusters of at least 25 bulbs, spacing them about 3 inches apart. They prefer moist, humus-rich soil in areas protected from full sun.
Bloom time: March to May
Height: 6 to 18 inches
All-star qualities: Daffodils are one of the easiest and most dependable flowers to grow, making them a great choice for beginning gardeners and those who want a flower that will spread naturally throughout their garden. Their lovely trumpet-shaped flowers are typically yellow or white, but there are many hybrids available with features such as double flowers, contrasting cup colors, and various bloom sizes. See these five-show stopping selections: Delightful Daffodils
Best locations: Plant in masses in the perennial garden or let them naturalize in a woodland garden. Daffodils grow best in full sun or light shade, but do quite well planted beneath deciduous trees that leaf out after the flowers have finished blooming.
Growing tips: Once planted, daffodils require very little care. As with most plants grown from bulbs, you should leave the foliage in place until it yellows in order to supply food to the bulbs for the following season. To hide the fading foliage, intermingle your daffodils with annuals or other later-blooming perennials in the garden. For more growing tips, visit the American Daffodil Society.
Bloom time: Early-flowering tulips from March to April, mid-season varieties from April to May, and late-flowering tulips from late May through June
Height: 8-30 inches
All-star qualities: Tulips are one of the most indispensable flowers of spring and are as popular in floral arrangements and bouquets as they are in flower beds. With over 3, 000 different cultivars available, they come in virtually every color of the rainbow, including striated and multicolored varieties. Although their exquisite flowers typically last only a few days, you can extend the bloom period from March through June by planting early-, mid-, and late-season varieties. See six tantalizing tulips to plant now.
Best locations: Excellent for borders, rock gardens, and container gardens. They can also be integrated throughout the perennial garden instead of being planted in mass.
Growing tips: Don’t plant tulips in the shade or they will grow weak and spindly with small flowers. Though tulips are perennials, not all of them will come back the following season. Some hybrids may need to be replanted annually. Get more tulip growing tips.