By Susan Albert
Selecting favorite flowers for spring is difficult because I could mention so many. Starting with daffodils, tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs, a colorful succession of annuals and perennials does well in the south-central region of the U.S. Here are some spring flowers that have proven to be reliable, easy to care for and attractive.
- Candytuft (Iberis umbellate)—Low-growing bright-white flowers that form a carpet of snow. Shear after flowering to maintain the evergreen foliage (pictured).
- Dianthus—The newer varieties’ frilly, dainty flowers bloom off and on all season. A welcome sight in spring, with their masses of flowers on mounding foliage.
- Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata)—A native plant that forms a cloud of blue flowers in sun to shade. Perennial and reseeds (pictured).
- Coreopsis—This native must-have for the garden comes in a variety of selections, some with dark centers. I’ve had better luck with the old standbys than the newer cultivars that come in different colors each year.
- Bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)—I like the old-fashioned variety better than the new cultivars. Even though the newer types bloom longer and more often, they just aren’t as striking. Bleeding heart has unusual flower shapes, reminiscent of the name (pictured).
- Hosta—The stars of the shade garden, hosta’s many variations in size, color and variegation let the imagination run wild. Very tough but susceptible to slug damage.
- Impatiens—A favorite for hanging baskets, containers or in the shade garden, impatiens come in a variety of colors. The New Guinea impatiens prefers a sunny disposition. If it gets leggy, just cut back the stems (pictured).
- Coleus—With its colorful markings, coleus can brighten a container or garden even during the heat of summer, when nothing is blooming. Traditionally a shade plant, newer cultivars are sun tolerant.
- Lantana—This standby also made the Texas Superstar list and blooms well, even in the heat of summer. It may need supplemental watering though. Lantana is a perennial farther south and blooms from spring to frost.
- Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)—The star-shape red, pink or white flowers top each stem in clusters, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. The Butterfly Deep Pink variety is a Texas Superstar plant (pictured).
- Million Bells (Calibrachoa hybrid)—Similar to small petunias, they are floriferous and, because they are tender perennials, can last into winter. They are ideal in containers and hanging baskets.
- Petunias—These are my favorite annuals for their abundant large, frilly flowers in many vibrant colors. They are great in hanging baskets and containers and can even take light frost.
For photos of all these spring beauties and more, see my video.