23 Spring Ephemeral Plants for Your Garden

Would you like some early spring flowers to grace your landscape with the very first flowers of the season? Try growing some spring ephemeral flowering plants to liven up your garden and welcome the growing season in style. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen introduces 23 spring ephemeral flowers and how you can incorporate them into your garden.

A stunning close-up captures a vibrant cluster of Virginia bluebells. Their bell-shaped blooms boast a rich, almost luminous blue, standing out against the crisp green leaves. Bathed in warm light, these delicate wildflowers seem to burst from the frame.


Did you know that spring ephemeral flowers are those that bloom early in the season and then go dormant for the rest of the year? You may wonder why you should grow a plant that pops up for a quick spring display and then disappears again. There are, however, many excellent reasons that spring ephemeral flowers deserve a place in your landscape.

Spring ephemerals are flowering plants, and many have very showy leaves and floral displays. They are some of the first flowers to bloom each year, some even beginning to emerge in the middle of winter. You’ll frequently see their leaves first while the rest of your garden is still sleeping, shortly followed by a burst of floral energy. These early-blooming flowers add plenty of interest and curb appeal to your landscape and also attract early-season pollinators!

You can find common spring ephemeral bulbs, such as daffodils and crocuses, at your local garden center. There are, however, a vast number of spectacular native plants that also bloom early in the spring and add variety to your landscape. Since these plants go dormant shortly after their spring blooms, grow them alongside mid to late-season plants for year-long beauty. 

Whether you have sun or shade, dry soil or moist, you can find some spring ephemeral flowers that will grow in your landscape. Keep reading to learn more about 23 fantastic spring ephemeral flowers to give your landscape a yearly head start on the growing season!


Vibrant yellow large-flowered bellwort in full bloom. Its six delicate petals, tinged with darker veins, gracefully flare from the base, creating a charming bell shape. The flower hangs gracefully from a slender green stem, hinting at a lush garden in the background.
This Eastern US native has yellow bell-shaped flowers that thrive in shaded areas.
botanical-name botanical name Uvularia grandiflora
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1.5 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 9

Bellwort, also known as the large bellwort or large-flower bellwort, is native to central and eastern North America. Watch for it blooming in mid to late spring in many shaded landscape types with moist, well-drained soil. While these plants will spread by self-seeding and by rhizomes, the seeds need to be kept moist, so you aren’t likely to find them commercially available. 

Bellwort grows long upright stems lined with opposite leaves. The foliage has a somewhat broadly fern-like appearance and is quite attractive. At the end of each leaf-lined stem, a single flower blooms.

These flowers are pale yellow, with long petals arranged in a gracefully nodding bell-like manner. In ideal conditions, the leaves will persist throughout much of the summer, but these perennials frequently also go dormant early in the season, particularly in warmer and drier conditions.  

Bird-Foot Violet

A close-up captures a single bird's-foot violet in full bloom. Its vibrant purple petals unfurl around a delicate, orange-hued center, while feathery green leaves, reminiscent of a bird's foot, delicately frame the flower.
Bird-foot violets have showy purple flowers and delicate, bird-like leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Viola pedata
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4 – 8 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

The bird-foot violet is related to the familiar purple and yellow violet species that many people consider weedy, but the bird-foot violet flowers have larger, more elongated petals and are often extremely showy with bright purple or bicolor flowers.

The leaves are deeply cut and delicate looking, somewhat resembling the footprint of a long-toed bird. Bird-foot violets would make a lovely and showy ground cover for your springtime garden. 

Bird-foot violet is not the easiest violet to grow at home, but it is well worth the effort if you can grow it successfully. It’s best grown in a naturalized woodland area with plenty of sunlight and acidic, very well-drained soil. It would make a stunning addition to a native plant garden, rock garden, or along a natural walkway. 


A captivating close-up of two Bitterroot flowers, their soft petals glowing with a subtle light. One blooms a vibrant light purple, while the other, a deeper shade, stands poised to unfurl. Both flowers emerge from a rocky crevice.
Withstanding harsh conditions, the low, spring-blooming bitterroot wildflower spreads by rhizomes.
botanical-name botanical name Lewisia rediviva
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Bitterroot is a low-growing spring-blooming wildflower native to the western United States. You can find bitterroot growing naturally in scrub-sagebrush habitats and with gravelly, well-drained soil. Don’t allow your bitterroot to sit in wet soil, or the roots can quickly develop root rot.

Bitterroot is an excellent plant for a xeriscape garden with challenging growing conditions. It develops a deep taproot and can withstand harsh conditions and dry soil.

Over time, your bitterroot will spread by thick rhizomes, and you can easily propagate it by dividing them into multiple plants. The showy pink and white flowers look wonderful along borders and other corners of your garden where you need a bit of early spring color.


A close-up showcases a cluster of bloodroot flowers bursting with life. Their white, elongated petals, delicately cupped, frame vibrant yellow centers brimming with pollen. Lush green leaves with serrated edges and pronounced veins add a touch of texture to the vibrant composition.
Showy white flowers and ornamental leaves mark bloodroot’s arrival in spring.
botanical-name botanical name Sanguinaria canadensis
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6 – 10 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

Bloodroot welcomes the spring with showy, white, star-like flowers and highly ornamental leaves. This plant gets its name from the orange juice in the stems, leaves, and rhizomes.

The stems emerge directly from the ground, each with a single, deeply lobed leaf. A second stem then emerges from beside the leaf stem, this one bearing a solitary flower with anywhere from six to 18 pure white petals and a prominent yellow center

Bloodroot plants are native to rich, moist forests and natural areas throughout eastern and central North America. If you grow bloodroot in your shade garden, allow it to naturalize and form small colonies. They will make a beautiful early-season ground cover before going dormant by late spring. 


Two spring crocuses, their delicate forms contrasting against a backdrop of rough, rocky soil. One blooms in a sunny yellow, its petals cupped like a chalice. The other boasts elegant white petals, delicately veined with purple, adding a touch of whimsy to the scene.
The vivid beauty of crocus flowers appears in the early spring.
botanical-name botanical name Crocus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2 – 6 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

Crocus flowers are a distinct hallmark of early spring. These little bulb-producing plants are readily available at most nurseries and garden centers for planting in early spring or fall. They will readily naturalize and come back reliably year after year in a sunny garden corner.

Since crocus are small and low-growing, place them along an edge or in an open rock garden where you will be sure to see their beautiful flowers before they go dormant for the summer.

Crocus plants have small clumps of thin, grass-like leaves, sometimes pure green, sometimes with a streak of white down the center vein. The flowers bloom singly atop leafless flowering stems. These flowers are relatively large and very showy in shades of white, purple, yellow, and bi-color.

If you find that squirrels are digging up your freshly planted crocus bulbs, cover the bulbs with a critter cage to keep the squirrels out until the plants start to grow on their own. 

Cut-Leaf Toothwort

A close-up of a delicate cut-leaf toothwort flower in full bloom. Its white blossoms gracefully splay outward, resembling a star. The flower emerges from a bed of brown, dried leaves, its long, serrated green leaves adding a touch of vibrancy to the autumnal scene.
This delicate white flower is perfect for woodland shade gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Cardamine concatenata
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 3 – 12 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

Cut-leaf toothwort is a worthy plant for your woodland shade garden. This plant is relatively easy to grow and low-maintenance. Allow it to naturalize in a moist, shaded area where it can be seen and appreciated. The flowers will also attract native bees and other early spring pollinators. 

Cut-leaf toothwort can spread by self-seeding and rhizomes to form small colonies, but you won’t need to worry about it becoming invasive. It typically grows in small patches and makes an attractive spring ephemeral wildflower.

This is a low-growing plant with attractive leaves. The individual leaves are deeply cut and toothed, giving them a somewhat delicate appearance. The white flowers bloom in a small cluster atop a central stem for a brief flowering season. The entire plant then goes dormant shortly after flowering. 


A close-up showcases a vibrant cluster of daffodils. Sunlight bathes their thick, green stems, which gracefully bend at the tips, cradling the cheerful blooms. Each flower boasts five bright yellow petals, unfurling outwards from a central, bell-shaped cup.
Daffodils spread easily and are hassle-free to transplant and divide.
botanical-name botanical name Narcissus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 8 – 30 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Daffodils are one of the most easily recognized spring-flowering ephemeral bulbs. These plants are native to Europe and Africa, are remarkably easy to grow, and will naturalize readily in most any conditions.

Their bold grass-like leaves are some of the first greenery to appear each season, and their flashy flowers are beautiful and bright yellows, oranges, and creamy white. As a bonus, deer and rabbits won’t bother your daffodils, so you won’t need to worry about protecting them from wildlife. 

Daffodils are readily available as bulbs that can be planted in either fall or early spring. They will thrive in both full sun and partial shade and appreciate well-drained soil. Over time, clumps will spread to form large colonies. If you end up with more daffodils than you want, simply dig out the extra bulbs and pass them along to someone else. The bulbs are very easy to thin, divide, and transplant.

Dutchman’s Breeches

 A group of delicate white Squirrel Corn blooms fills the foreground. Each flower boasts an unusual heart shape with a soft yellow center, and they gracefully droop from slender stems. Lush, palm-like leaves in a vibrant green shade blur the background.
Plant Dutchman’s breeches in shaded, moist soil for a striking addition to woodland gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Dicentra canadensis
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 3 – 5 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 7

Dutchman’s breeches is a wildflower native to the forests of eastern North America. It is relatively easy to grow in a shaded woodland garden with consistently moist but well-drained soil. Use it in a native plant garden, pollinator garden, or shade garden. 

In late winter and early spring, the dainty, fern-like leaves of the Dutchman’s breeches emerge alongside other spring ephemerals. They typically have slightly pink-tinted stems and finely cut, almost frilly-looking leaves. The nodding, white, heart-shaped flowers are arranged in an alternating pattern along a leafless flowering stem. These flowers are very unique and very showy


A close-up of a Jack-in-the-pulpit wildflower thriving in the dappled light of a forest floor. Its unique hooded form, adorned with a mesmerizing green and maroon striped pattern, emerges from a cluster of delicate leaves.
The poisonous Jack-in-the-pulpit displays a unique hooded flower and red fruit.
botanical-name botanical name Arisaema triphyllum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 12 – 30 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 9

One of the more distinctive flowering perennials of spring woodlands throughout eastern North America is the Jack-in-the-pulpit plant. In early spring, keep an eye out for its trio of large, bright green leaves emerging from the ground on long stems. Between leaf stems, watch for the unique Jack-in-the-pulpit flower.

This hooded vase-like flower has a large spadix (that’s “Jack” in his “pulpit”). Fertilized flowers produce a mass of large, bright red berry-like fruits that linger on the plant well into the summer, even after the leaves go dormant.

Jack-in-the-pulpit is an easy-to-grow native wildflower. It makes a wonderful addition to your shade garden, native plant garden, or pollinator garden. Grow it alongside some other shade-loving perennials in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Don’t try to eat any part of this plant, however, as the entire plant is poisonous to humans and adventurous pets that might try to ingest it.

Large-flowered Trillium

A captivating close-up of several Trillium grandiflorum flowers. Their three white petals delicately ruffled and almost glowing, form a cluster around small yellow centers. Broad, veined leaves frame the blooms, while a moss-covered tree base creates a textured backdrop.
The large-flowered trillium produces beautiful white, three-petaled flowers atop a whorl of three leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Trillium grandiflorum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1 – 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

The large-flowered trillium, also known as the white trillium produces beautiful, showy white flowers each spring. Trilliums develop distinctive sets of three leaves whorled around upright stems that emerge directly from the ground. In the center of each set of leaves, large, three-petaled flowers open to attract plenty of attention from humans and pollinators alike

Trilliums are relatively easy to grow as long as you can provide favorable conditions. Since these plants are adapted to moist woodlands throughout eastern North America, they will perform best in a shaded garden with rich, consistently moist, well-drained soil.

Allow them to naturalize, and you will enjoy an annual early spring display of an ever-spreading mass of showy leaves and flowers. Large-flowered trilliums go dormant by early summer.


A handful of Mayapple blooms emerge from a shaded garden. Their white petals curve gracefully, forming delicate bowls around vibrant yellow stamens and pistils. Lush green leaves cast dappled shadows, creating a scene of tranquil beauty.
Mayapples display lush umbrella-like leaves hiding poisonous white blooms and yellow-green fruit.
botanical-name botanical name Podophyllum peltatum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1 – 1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

Mayapple is a familiar woodland wildflower of eastern North America. It grows in a variety of woodlands and along shaded corridors and edges. One of the earliest plants to break dormancy in the spring, the large, umbrella-like leaves are a welcome sight.

Mayapples have beautiful, showy white flowers that appear singly under the leafy umbrellas, so you might not see them immediately. After flowering, mayapples develop a found fleshy fruit that ripens to yellowish-green by summer.

Mayapples can grow into vast colonies, but they don’t become invasive. Allow them to naturalize, and they will stay within a lush green patch that disappears completely by mid-summer as the plants go dormant. Grow them in a woodland garden with moist, well-drained soil. Unripe fruits, leaves, stems, and roots of this plant are highly poisonous, so despite its name, it’s best not to eat any part of a mayapple. 

Oregon Fawn Lily

Two exquisite Oregon fawn lily flowers, their soft white petals delicately ruffled, stand out against a blurred background of a moist forest. The intricate details of each petal and the vibrant yellow centers draw the eye, evoking a sense of tranquility and admiration for nature's artistry.
Display your elegant Oregon fawn lilies briefly in early spring.
botanical-name botanical name Erythronium oregonum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1 – 1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Gardeners along the West Coast and in the Pacific Northwest can enjoy the Oregon fawn lily in their woodland gardens. This elegant wildflower is native to the Pacific coast, from California north to Alaska. It grows in open woodlands with rich, moist, well-drained soil.

The Oregon fawn lily emerges in early spring and is one of the first flushes of spring wildflowers to grace the forest floor. Purple and green mottled leaves are the first to show themselves, soon followed by single flowering stems. The flowers are showy, white, six-petaled stars that bloom for just a few weeks before the plant goes dormant again for the rest of the year. 

Red Trillium

A single, captivating trillium emerges from a bed of brown, dried leaves. Its three velvety red petals, each with a pointed tip, unfurl gracefully around a heart of vibrant yellow stamens. Bathed in soft light, the trillium exudes an air of delicate elegance.
The red trillium displays extremely showy deep red flowers and three broad leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Trillium erectum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 0.75 – 1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 7

If you’re looking for an extremely showy plant for your springtime woodland garden, check out the red trillium. This beautiful wildflower is native to central and eastern North America. A spring hike through many moist upland forests will reveal many spring ephemeral wildflowers, including several spectacular species of trillium. 

You can grow red trillium in a shaded woodland garden with rich, moist, well-drained soil. Watch for the three broad, whorled leaves to emerge in late winter or early spring.

The three-petaled flowers are deep red or maroon and are borne on a short stem directly from the center of the leaf stalk. These unique plants put on a beautiful show but then quickly go dormant again, resting underground until the following spring.

Round-lobed Hepatica

This close-up shows a cluster of vibrant purple Hepatica americana, blooming on the forest floor. Their delicate eight-petaled blossoms rise from slender, hairy stems amidst a scattering of fallen leaves and decaying plant matter.
The round-lobed hepatica displays pale purple flowers above glossy leaves before going dormant in the summer.
botanical-name botanical name Hepatica americana
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 6 – 9 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

The round-lobed hepatica is a spring-blooming perennial native to eastern North America. It inhabits many woodlands and is commonly found in rich, moist soils of upland forests. You can easily grow round-lobed hepatica and a similar species, the sharp-lobed hepatica (H. arutiloba) in a moist, shaded garden setting.

In the warmer parts of its range, round-lobed hepatica starts blooming in early spring, while in cooler areas, it will bloom in mid to late spring. The emergence of its glossy, three-lobed leaves will let you know that this plant is ready to put on a show.

The delightful pale purple flowers of the round-lobed hepatica will attract plenty of attention, as well as early-season pollinators. Depending on sunlight and soil moisture, these plants may go dormant anytime between mid to late summer.

Rue Anemone

A close-up of delicate Rue Anemone flowers, their soft white petals layered like gossamer. Golden pollen dusts the center, adding a touch of warmth. The blooms stand proudly in a garden, surrounded by a gentle blur of verdant foliage.
Grow self-seeding clusters of dainty white or pink rue anemone flowers above lobed foliage in your moist, shaded eastern woodland garden.
botanical-name botanical name Thalictrum thalictroides
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 4 – 8 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Rue anemone is native to eastern North America where it grows in moist woodlands with plenty of shade. This early spring wildflower will readily spread by self-seeding to form beautiful clusters. Grow some rue anemones in a woodland garden or partially shaded border for a bit of welcome springtime beauty.

Rue anemone has attractive lobed foliage that forms rounded basal clumps. The dainty flowers are attractive to early springtime pollinators. Flowers are commonly either pure white or pale pink with delicate yellow stamens. Enjoy the rue anemone while you can because the entire plant goes dormant by mid-summer and won’t appear again until the following spring.

Shooting Star

 A cluster of delicate pink shooting star flowers. Their velvety petals, cupped upwards, reveal a pointed maroon base, resembling a miniature chandelier. Soft focus blurs the background, highlighting the ethereal beauty of these spring blooms.
The eastern shooting star displays distinctive white and pink flowers above oblong leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Primula meadia
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1 – 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Shooting star, also known as eastern shooting star, is a spectacular spring-blooming wildflower native to the central and eastern United States. You can find it growing in moist meadows, prairies, and open woodlands. There are some other species of shooting stars native to different regions of North America, but this species is the most widespread.

Shooting stars awaken in early spring and send out a basal rosette of oblong, rounded leaves. By mid-spring, long flowering stems rise well above the leaves. Each stem is topped with a loose umbel of uniquely shaped flowers.

These flowers may be white or pink and have a distinctive appearance, like a downward-pointed shooting star. All parts of the plant will die back by mid-summer. This would make a wonderful plant for a partly sunny woodland garden or moist pocket prairie.

Spring Beauty

A close-up shows a cluster of delicate Eastern Spring Beauty wildflowers. Their five spoon-shaped petals, striped with vibrant purple and soft white, seem to glow against the dreamily blurred background, capturing the essence of springtime.
Delicate pink and white spring beauty flowers spread among other plants to inhabit damp, shaded woodland gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Claytonia virginica
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 3 – 6 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

Spring beauty flowers are common and widespread throughout the moist woodlands of eastern North America. These plants emerge very early each spring, starting with their thin, grass-like leaves. Delicate pink and white five-petaled flowers grace the woodland floor with a dash of color. 

You can easily start a spring beauty colony along a woodland margin or anywhere in a shade garden. In ideal conditions, spring beauty plants will multiply by bulb offsets and by self-seeding.

They will perform best in average to rich, well-drained soils that stay somewhat moist. Plants will go dormant by mid-summer and can easily be grown among an assortment of more persistent woodland plants for year-round interest.


Group of Spring starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum) bursting with vibrant life. Their delicate, six-pointed petals unfurl in a mesmerizing shade of silky lavender, contrasting beautifully with the slender green stems and grass-like leaves.
Garden starflowers are easy to naturalize because they grow best in well-drained soil.
botanical-name botanical name Ipheion uniflorum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3 – 16 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 9

The starflower, also called spring starflower, is an easy-to-grow bulb native to South America. It is hardy to zone 5 and grows well in just about any garden setting, provided you have well-drained soil. These plants will naturalize easily and come back reliably each spring, year after year. 

Starflower plants grow from bulbs. The flowers can appear singly or in small clusters on thin, leafless stalks. Each flower is pale purplish-blue with a yellow center and typically has six petals.

The mildly fragrant flowers will attract some early pollinators and would be a lovely addition to a rock garden, border, or garden edge where you can see and appreciate them before they go dormant in mid-summer. 

Trout Lily

Several vibrant yellow trout lily blossoms emerge from the forest floor. Their slender stems gracefully bend, cradling the blooms like open bananas, their sunny petals a beacon against the surrounding foliage.
Look for stunning wildflowers, such as trout lilies, in damp forests in the early spring.
botanical-name botanical name Erythronium americanum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 4 – 6 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

Hiking through a moist forest in early spring will yield many beautiful spring wildflowers. One of the more widespread species in eastern North American forests is the trout lily. You can grow these wonderful spring ephemeral wildflowers at home in a moist, shaded woodland setting with well-drained soil. 

Trout lily plants grow from small bulbs, and it may take a couple of years for transplanted bulbs to begin blooming. Watch for the six-inch, purple, and green dappled leaves to emerge in late winter.

The nodding, bell-like yellow flowers will be in full bloom by early to mid-spring. Early-season pollinators will visit this valuable source of nectar.

Virginia Bluebells

A close-up of delicate Virginia bluebells in various stages of bloom. Sunlight filters through the trumpet-shaped flowers, highlighting their vibrant sky-blue petals. Pink hues linger in unopened buds, adding a touch of contrast to the morning scene.
Rich, moist woodlands provide a spectacular display of Virginia bluebells in the spring.
botanical-name botanical name Mertensia virginica
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1.5 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 9

Virginia bluebells are one of the more spectacular spring woodland wildflowers. They are native to central and eastern North America, where they are most commonly found in rich, moist woodlands, bottomland forests, and shaded thickets. You can grow them in a shade garden as long as it has rich, continually moist soil.  

As soon as the weather starts to warm in the spring, the broad leaves of Virginia bluebells start to emerge from their winter dormancy. These plants leaf out quickly and are ready to bloom in early to mid-spring.

The flowers appear in loose clusters of beautiful nodding bell-like flowers that change from pink buds to pale lavender-blue when fully open. Allow a group of Virginia bluebells to naturalize into a large colony for a truly amazing spring floral display. 

Wild Hyacinth

 A soft focus dreamscape of star-shaped wild hyacinth flowers. Their delicate blue and purple petals cradle bright yellow-green centers, resembling tiny beans. The blurred background adds an ethereal touch, highlighting the cluster's intricate beauty.
The star-shaped flowers of the wild hyacinth will attract pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Camassia scilloides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1 – 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

The wild hyacinth, also known as the eastern camas lily, is an early to mid-spring ephemeral wildflower native to moist woodlands and streambanks of central and eastern North America.

Grow it in full sun or light shade with medium moisture, well-drained soil. Wild hyacinths can take a few years to become established and may not bloom for the first few years after planting.

Wild hyacinth leaves are long and thin, somewhat resembling broad blades of glass. They emerge in early spring but go dormant again by early summer. The flowers bloom in mid-spring as a loose flowering stalk of up to 20 individual white, star-shaped flowers. Wild hyacinth grows from bulbs and can be easily propagated as the bulbs mature and spread. The flowers attract springtime pollinators

Wood Anemone

A close-up in soft focus captures the delicate beauty of white wood anemones bursting into bloom. Their star-shaped petals, like snowflakes in spring, surround soft yellow centers, each with a burst of pollen adding a touch of vibrancy. The blurred background of lush green foliage hints at a vibrant forest awakening.
Low-growing wood anemones create a seasonal ground cover with dainty white blossoms.
botanical-name botanical name Anemone quinquefolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6 – 9 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 8

Wood anemone, also known as windflower, is a low-growing spring ephemeral native to eastern and central North America. It grows in most woodlands and would be a lovely early spring-blooming perennial for your woodland or shade garden.

Within a few years, the wood anemone will form a loose colony, and you will have a seasonal ground cover. The fine green leaves fade away into dormancy by mid-summer.

At its peak, the wood anemone displays its dainty white blossoms. Each flower is pure white, with five petals, although you will sometimes encounter cultivars with more colorful pale pink and purple flowers.

Wood Sorrel

Three vibrant purple Wood Sorrel blossoms in full bloom. Their delicate five petals unfurl around green centers, contrasting against a backdrop of lush, deep purple leaves. Tiny closed buds peek shyly from the background.
For stunning ground cover and seasonal beauty, cultivate wood sorrel in damp forests.
botanical-name botanical name Oxalis montana
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 3 – 12 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 1 – 7

There are a number of interesting Oxalis species, including Oxalis montana, the native American wood sorrel, also known as sourgrass or wood shamrock. These plants grow naturally in moist woodlands and create a vibrant seasonal ground cover. They perform best with partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. 

Wood sorrel’s three leaflets look like shamrocks and are set singly atop thin stems emerging directly from the ground. The leaves of varying Oxalis species may be bright green, purple, or a combination of the two.

The native species of American wood sorrel has beautiful delicate pink flowers, while other species have flowers that include white, yellow, and varying shades of pink. Wood sorrels look lush and vigorous each spring, going dormant in early summer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I worry that my plants seem to die back so early in the season?

There’s no need to worry. This is simply the nature of spring ephemeral flowers. As long as you’re growing your plants in favorable conditions, you won’t need to do anything special for them when they go dormant. The roots, corms, or bulbs will rest safely underground until the next winter or spring when they are triggered for a fresh start.

What else can I plant near my spring ephemerals to fill in the space they leave behind?

In a shade garden, you can interplant spring ephemerals with long-season, shade-loving vegetation like ferns, hostas, or wild ginger. In a sunny garden, grow ephemerals among any of your favorite perennial flowers for a long season of foliage and colorful blossoms. By the time your ephemeral flowers go dormant, their neighboring plants will be reaching their prime and will easily cover the space vacated by the ephemerals.

Do deer and rabbits eat spring ephemeral flowers?

As with all other flowering plants, you will find that browsing herbivores prefer some more than others. You will find, however, that deer and rabbits don’t bother most spring ephemeral wildflowers (they do, however, love tulips!). If you have deer and rabbits in your yard, you’ll probably want to do some research to be sure that the flowers you choose to grow are deer-resistant, or plant them within a fenced area that is inaccessible to hungry deer and rabbits.

Final Thoughts

What better way to welcome spring than by growing spring ephemeral flowers in your landscape? Many of these plants are spectacularly showy and easy to grow. Spring ephemeral flowers allow you to get a head start on the growing season and enjoy some of the earliest blooms of the year, anytime from mid-winter to late spring. They are some of the first plants to appear for the year but also some of the first to go dormant, so you can easily grow them alongside your other annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs for a full year’s worth of gardening beauty! 

A vibrant California garden showcases a myriad of wildflowers, each boasting its unique color and shape. Bathed in the warm sunlight, the flowers burst into full bloom, creating a picturesque scene that captivates with its natural beauty and diversity.


27 Native Wildflowers for California Gardens

A garden full of native wildflowers is a beautiful sight with benefits for the gardener and the ecosystem. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares 27 gorgeous native wildflowers for California gardens.

Close-up of blooming Old Garden Roses in a sunny garden. Beautiful pink rose 'Louise Odier', a classic hybrid perpetual rose, displays a charming appearance characterized by its abundant clusters of large, cupped flowers. Each bloom features rose petals, forming a graceful, rounded silhouette. The plant has a dark green, glossy foliage with jagged edges.


How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Old Garden Roses

Many varieties of modern hybrid roses are gorgeous in their own right, but have you checked out old garden roses? In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss will tell you what you need to know to grow these enchanting shrubs in your garden.

Close-up of Frosted Explosion grass in a garden. This ornamental grass prized for its unique appearance is characterized by delicate, arching foliage with a frosted, silvery-blue hue. The grass features thin, thread-like leaves that radiate outward from the center in a graceful, fountain-like manner. The grass produces feathery, plume-like flower heads.

Ornamental Gardens

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Frosted Explosion’ Grass

Frosted explosion grass bursts into the warm season garden with feathery plumes that shine in the summer sun. Its fine texture and showy seeds are prized in floral arrangements. Grow frosted explosion grass quickly from seed to enjoy its unique “filler” qualities in the garden bed, planted container, or floral design. Garden professional Katherine Rowe explores the captivating features of Panicum ‘Frosted Explosion’ - an easy-care annual to brighten the garden this summer.