Spring Flowers and Plants

Periwinkle Flower

Periwinkle Flower (Vinca Minor)

The common periwinkle flower, also known as vinca or myrtle, is most often grown as a ground cover and works exceptionally well as an erosion control specimen.

It gets its name from the striking blueish-purple blooms that appear on the dark green foliage in mid spring.

Periwinkle Flower

Scientific Name:  Vinca minor

Life cycle:  Annual, Perennial in warm climates

Soil pH:  6.0 – 7.5

Plant hardiness:  USDA zones 4 – 9

Light requirements:  Full or partial shade

Water requirements:  Low

Fertilizer demand:  Low

Planting date:  After last spring frost

Flowering season: April – May

Height:   4″ – 6″

Colors:  Blue/purple, white

Pests:  Aphids

Propagation: Cuttings, seed

Periwinkle Flower Care

Vinca plants are low to the ground and compact with a tenacious root system, which is what makes them work so well for erosion control. They typically grow 4″ – 6” tall and a single plant can spread up to 8’ across.

The arching stems of the plant will root wherever they touch the ground. Periwinkle grows well in USDA zones 4-9 – which encompasses most of the continental United States – and prefers slightly acidic, well-drained soil.

In the Northern most zones where climates bring colder winter weather, it is grown solely as an annual plant and needs to be replanted every year. In warmer climates it grows exceptionally well as a perennial plant.

Will Periwinkles Grow in the Shade

Periwinkle plants prefer partially to fully shaded garden spots to keep their growth low and dense if they are to be used as a groundcover.

Periwinkle can be grown from seed, or propagated from stem cuttings. The fast growing plant generates new roots quickly when taken as a cutting.

periwinkle groundcover

Growing Periwinkle Flowers

To establish new plants especially in areas where periwinkle is grown as an annual – it may be easier to start them from seed than to overwinter plant cuttings for planting in the spring.

Sow seeds after the danger of the last frost has passed; this will vary depending on your hardiness zone and latitude. Periwinkle seed is extremely light so it’s best to mix seed with builder grade sand when sowing to improve the seed distribution.

Water newly planted seed well and keep the soil damp until seeds germinate in 2-3 weeks. Mature plants should be established 3-4 months after planting.

One of the benefits to growing periwinkle is that it requires very few inputs, thus making it incredibly easy and desirable to grow.

After seeds have germinated, the plants are considered drought tolerant and need very little water for growth. They will grow well if watered in a garden setting if the soil drains well.

Why Do Periwinkle Leaves Turn Yellow

Over watering periwinkles can lead to yellowing leaves and poor looking plants.

Periwinkle Plant Fertilizer

Fertilize plants with a complete, balanced fertilizer in the spring to encourage a jump start in growth and then every two months during the active growing season.

Occasionally shear plants off close to the ground to encourage new growth.

pink periwinkle flower

Periwinkle Flower Pests

There are few pests that affect periwinkle flowers, adding to how simple they are to grow in a garden or landscape. In the summer months aphids may become a concern.

Spray infected plants with a heavy spray of water to knock them off, or apply an insecticide such as neem oil if absolutely necessary.

With little care needed, periwinkle plants make a great groundcover option for most areas in the United States. The characteristic bluish-purple flowers add a pop of color to the landscape while the tenacious root system helps to prevent soil erosion.

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Tulip

The tulip is synonymous with spring, brightly colored tulip blooms accent gardens all around the world. Tulips are an extremely popular perennial flower due to their ease in growing – with minimal care and upkeep; they grow beautifully in most garden settings. They come in a variety of colors, plant heights, and flower shapes making them extremely versatile for any garden space.


Tulip Facts

  • Scientific Name – Tulipa sp.
  • Life Cycle – Perennial
  • Soil pH – 6.0 – 7.0
  • Plant Hardiness – USDA Zones 3-8
  • Light Requirements – Full Sun/Part Sun
  • Water Requirements – Low
  • Fertilizer Demand – Low
  • Planting Date – Fall
  • Flowering Season – Early Spring
  • Height – 6″ – 2′
  • Colors – Almost Every Color
  • Pests – Mold, Bulb Rot, Aphids, Slugs, Snails
  • Propagation – Division

How to Grow Tulips

Tulips are classified as perennial plants, but their life cycle is dependent on the hardiness zone where they are planted. Being native to Central Asia, tulips are predisposed to climates where there are long winters and a cooler spring.

Therefore they require a cold winter to continue to bloom in successive years.  Tulips will “perennialize” best in zones 7 or colder. This process is known as vernalization: plants need about 8 – 10 weeks of soil temperatures registering between 45 – 50°F and then a climactic rebound to warmer temperatures to produce a flower bud.

Because of this it may be best to treat tulips as annuals in areas where winter temperatures do not drop for sustained periods of time. While planting new bulbs every fall may get tedious, it will ensure continuous blooms every spring.

Tulips Bulbs Care

Bulbs should be planted in the fall, 6 -8 weeks before a hard frost is anticipated for the area. This ranges from September to October depending on the growing area. Tulips prefer sunny spots in the garden, but need some partial shade in zones that have higher daytime temperatures and more intense sunlight.

They do not like their roots to be wet so look for sites with well-drained soil that is slightly acidic to neutral.  Work the garden site well, adding in broken down compost a few inches below where the bulbs will be planted.

Then plant tulip bulbs approximately 8” below the soil surface, and space them 4 – 6” apart. Water the bulbs well after planting to help trigger their growth.

Tulip Care

Tulips are fairly drought tolerant and do not need much water, other than what they receive from rainfall. Because of this, irrigation systems can be detrimental to tulip beds. It’s best to route water lines around the beds to keep the soil from being too wet as this abundant moisture encourages bulb rot.

Tulip plants also don’t require much fertilizer; a yearly addition of compost to the soil will provide everything the plants need for optimal growth and will also help to improve soil drainage.

Tulip Pests

Too much water is the enemy of tulips, and many of the pests and diseases that affect plants are related to damp conditions. Gray mold and bulb rot are the two most common disease afflictions; both of which are mostly preventable by keeping soil moisture controlled and avoiding overwatering. When plants are infected the treatment is removal of any affected plant material.

Tulip plants are typically attacked by pests correlated to wet conditions such as:

  • Aphids
  • Slugs
  • Snails

Rodents are particularly fond of tulip bulbs and preventative measures should be put in place to deter these creatures.

  • Voles
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels

Types of Tulips

Tulips come in many different colors and sizes, there are many different types of tulips that will look great in a tulip garden.

Single Early Tulip:

Are the ones you usually see in the beginning of spring. They come in all different colors and grow between 6 and 18 inches tall.

Double Early Tulip:

Have more petals then the single early version. They come in reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and white. They usually grow around beginning to mid spring and grow up to 12 inches tall.

Darwin Hybrid:

Grow in mid spring and have a pyramid shape to them. They come in many bright colors such as pink, yellow, orange, and red.

Triumph Tulip:

Also grow in mid spring. They are very large and grow to 14 to 24 inches. They come in a wide variety of colors.

Single Late:

Is another tall version of this flower. They can be anywhere from 24 to 30 inches tall. The flower itself has an oval shape to it. They also come in a wide variety of colors.

Fringed Tulip:

Named for the way they look. The edge of the petals are fringed. They come in purple, pink, red, white and yellow. They grow 14 to 26 inches tall.

Lily Flowered:

A beautiful look to it. The petals are pointy shaped, and open up like a delicate looking flute. They come in all kinds of colors.

Parrot Tulip:

The Parrot Tulip has a different look. They have fringed petals that open wide. This type comes in bright colors and is very large.

Greigii Tulip:

Blooms in mid spring and the flower stand straight up at attention. The petals do not spread out far when opened.

Viridiflora:

Flowers are 16 to 21 inches tall. They are also called green tulip because of the green streak on their leaves.

Double Late:

Are full flowers with a large bloom. They bloom in late spring and are 14 to 24 inches high.

Rembrandt:

Have strange looking marks on them. They are from a virus that was spread onto the plants. They are not usually planted anymore.

Fosteriana:

Blooms in mid spring and has large flowers. They look very tall and can grow to be 12 – 18 inches tall.

Kaufmannia:

Have a very large blossom. They bloom in mid spring.

Tulip Mania

Now we can’t have a page about tulips without mentioning Tulip Mania. During the 1630s the people in the Netherlands began to really like tulips. Their beautiful vibrant colors attracted people and tulips became a must have luxury item.

At the start people bought and sold tulips normally giving money in exchange for the tulips. Eventually as demand increased for tulips the price skyrocketed. Tulips began to be traded the same way stocks are traded today.

With the rise in prices speculators began to buy tulips at the end of the season. They did not receive the tulips. They were buying on the premise that the price of tulips would continue to rise in the future and be worth more than what they originally bought them for. This was buying in a futures market.

It became a tulip mania where buyers and sellers were rapidly buying and selling pieces of paper without anyone actually receiving any tulips. In 1637 the demand for tulips suddenly stopped. The prices for tulips crashed into the ground and they became worthless. Anyone still holding a purchase contract for tulips lost a lot of money when the bubble suddenly burst.

Tulip Conclusion

Available in many gorgeous colors and shapes, tulips are a fantastic accent in many gardens. They grow as annuals in warmer climates and perennials in areas where winters get cold enough for vernalization. Needing very little water, and little fertilizer, they are an easy plant to put into a garden space for early to mid-spring blooms.

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Poppy Flower

Poppy Flower

The Poppy flower (Papaver) is a spring flower which can be either an annual flower or perennial flower. Whichever type you choose you will be sure to love. Whatever the kind, they will bring a very unique look to your garden.

Poppy Flower Types

Poppies

Poppies

There are a lot of different species of this flower. They have very large blossoms that grow from the foliage.

Perennial Poppies

Grow from seeds in the soil. They are very easy to grow and they reseed themselves so that they continue to grow again each year.

Corn Poppies

Grow in the spring. They are annuals that can be planted in fall or early spring.

Angels Choir

Is a double flower that can be a soft pink or white color.

Oriental Poppy

Is a very popular species. They can be a bright orange, red, purple, or white color. They are perennials and grow to be almost 4 feet tall.

Growing Poppy Flower

Poppy Flowers

Poppy Flower

Certain Poppies should be planted in a certain way. They all do not grow the same. If you are unsure about how to grow your plants, check out your local nursery to get directions on how to plant your flowers correctly.

Most species do however grow best in areas with full sun to light shade. Make sure you have them planted in well-drained soil. Also spread your seeds out. They do not grow well if they are too crowded.

Once the flowers begin to grow, they make a beautiful contribution to a vase of fresh cut flowers. They are very easy to cut, and once you have them in a vase, they look gorgeous. Poppies definitely bring a unique look to any garden. Whether you use them as accent flowers, or as the main focus of your garden, they will be sure to brighten up anyone’s yard or flowerbed.

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Rhododendron Shrub

Rhododendron is a shrub that begins blooming in the middle of spring. Once fully bloomed, it will continue to grow well into the summer months.

I remember when I was younger; my grandmother wanted a plant to grow in a certain spot in my front yard. She decided on the Rhododendron because they grow back every year.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

Each year they come back, the shrub will sometimes be bigger then it was the year before. Also this plant is basically maintenance free. All she did was plant the shrub, watered it in the beginning, and from then on it began to grow more and more each year.

When my grandmother first bought the plant it was a small sized shrub. Now nearly 15 years later it is a very large beautiful shrub.

One of the great things about this plant is that when the flowers go away, the foliage stays behind and lasts all year.

When spring comes, my rhododendron shrub grows beautiful pink flowers. They grow close together and make for a pretty looking bush.

In the wintertime when all that’s left is the leaves and stems, we string Christmas lights on the shrub. It looks very pretty!

While my bush grows pink flowers, some other colored flowers they may grow are purple, yellow, white, or even red.

This shrub grows best in an area with partial shade. The leaves may start to wilt if in an area of too much sun.

However if you plant it in an area with too much shade, the plants will not grow their flowers as well as they would grow in an area with partial shade.

My grandmother dug a big hole and put in some peat moss to help the plant grow healthy. The plant needs to be planted so that the top most portions of the roots are showing slightly.

Then she just watered the plant when it needed it. If the soil looked to dry, that was when she watered it.

That’s all she had to do. Then the plant began to grow, and as I said before that was maybe more then 15 years ago and my Rhododendron still looks great!

It really is a carefree plant to have. It is critter resistant, little to no maintenance required, and it comes back every year. It is the perfect shrub to have!

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Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra Spectabilis) is a spring flower that gets it’s name from the heart like shape of the flowers it blooms. They are a pinky rose color that hang off of their stems. Even though most are a rose color, some come in white. The foliage of the Bleeding Heart is almost as beautiful as the flower itself. The leaves are a blue green color, and look almost fern like. This is one of the more romantic spring flowers. Bleeding Heart begins to grow in late spring, and continue into the early summer.

Growing Bleeding Heart Flowers

Red Bleeding Heart Flower

Red Bleeding Heart Flower

The best thing about planting Bleeding Heart bulbs is that they are perennials. So you can grow these gorgeous flowers year after year. They grow best in rich soil, with some shade. It is ideal to plant these in a partially shaded area.

This flower will grow between 2 to 2 ½ feet tall. They need to be spaced out a bit when you plant them. Plant them about 2 feet apart and they should grow nicely. They are a great flower to have for cutting and using in bouquets. They are sure to brighten up any flower arrangement.

There is also a fringed type of this flower. It is a little different from the original. They are slightly smaller and produce a different type of foliage. They have a lacy look to their leaves.

The fringed version lives a bit longer than the original. It begins blooming in late spring and continues growing into early fall. They sometimes die during a drought, but can begin to grow again well into the beginning of fall.

Just like the original, the fringed version grows best in rich soil with some shade above. The maintenance for both of these plants consists of mulching them in the beginning of spring, and keeping them hydrated.

Whatever version of this flower you choose they are sure to be a lovely addition to any flower garden.

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