There are other spring flowering shrubs besides the azalea. I will describe a few of these today on Southern Gardening.
An uncommon spring flowering shrub is White Forsythia, Abeliophyllum distichum. This shrub has a growing habit of being multi-stemmed with arching branches. On leafless stems an abundance of white flowers that may have a tinge of pink is spectacular. The size of White Forsythia will be 3 to 4’ wide and up to 6’ tall in full sun or light shade. This is a great companion plant for the more common Border Forsythia.
One of the first shrubs to bloom in late winter is the Vernal Witchhazel, Hamamelis vernalis. The flowers are spidery in appearance and selections range in color from solid yellows, oranges, and reds. The flowers have a pungent fragrance and persist up to 3 to 4 weeks. Vernal Witchhazel is a dense, multi-stemmed shrub, up to 10’ high and greater in width.
A good plant for the old fashion shrub border is Mock Orange, Philadelphus coronarius. The flowers open in late spring and fill the air with its sweet fragrance. The flowers are a pure white with a multitude of yellow stamens. Mock Orange will grow to 10’ to 12’ tall and wide.
Spring flowering shrubs should be planted in rich, well drained soil in full sun or partial shade.
Since spring flowering shrubs form their flower buds the previous summer and fall, you should always wait to prune these shrubs until after flowering to fully enjoy their ornamental benefit. Multi-stemmed shrubs should be thinned on a yearly basis by removing the oldest third of the stems. This will maintain your shrub’s youthful appearance and keep you young at heart with spring flowering beauty.
I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.