Early-Blooming Shrubs
Birds & Blooms|February/March 2022
Greet spring with pretty plants that shine all season.
By Melinda Myers

1 Dwarf Russian almond

PRUNUS TENELLA, ZONES 2 TO 6 SIZE: 2 TO 5 FEET TALL AND WIDE

This modest-sized shrub bookends the growing season with showy rose red spring flowers and yellow-orange fall color. It prefers full sun, tolerates a range of soil types and is fairly drought resistant. Ruth's 100 produces abundant blooms on a compact plant.

Why we love it: Flowers appear early and attract butterflies. Plus, the plant provides food and cover for backyard birds and wildlife.

2 Paperbush plant

EDGEWORTHIA CHRYSANTHA, ZONES 7 TO 9 SIZE: 3 TO 6 FEET TALL AND WIDER

Leafless stems provide interest in winter, while creamy yellow flowers with a spicy scent attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies in late winter or early spring. The Gold Finch variety tolerates humidity and heat, and Grandiflora boasts larger flowers.

Why we love it: Dark green leaves turn rich yellow in fall, adding to its year-round appeal. And its bark can be used to make paper, hence its common name.

3 Bush cherry

PRUNUS JACQUEMANTII, ZONES 5 TO 8 SIZE: 5 FEET TALL AND WIDE

Here's a cherry that southern gardeners can also enjoy. Rose-colored buds open to fragrant pink flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators. The green leaves are a larval host for the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly and turn yellow in the fall. Grow in full sun with moist, well-draining soil.

Why we love it: The fruit, which ranges from red to plum purple, attracts birds to the landscape.

4 Cornelian cherry dogwood

CORNUS MAS, ZONES 4 TO 8 SIZE: UP TO 20 FEET TALL AND WIDE

Welcome spring with bright yellow flowers that appear earlier than forsythia's blooms. It prefers full sun or part shade, and rich, moist, well-draining soil. Leaves turn purplish-red in fall, and flaky bark adds winter interest.

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