Southeastern Spring Wildflowers – A Timeline

I delight in the discovery of new blooms in the garden, especially in the spring when I’m hungry for signs of nature’s annual awakening. Luckily not everything blooms at once so I can find a succession of blooms from February to April, enjoying each bloom in its own time. I present here my list of spring wildflowers in north Georgia based on my observations from the last 8-10 years.

Round leaf hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa)

Round leaf hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa)

The first to bloom by a long shot is liverwort (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa). My records consistently show that the first brave bloom appears in January; that bloom is followed by several others until the clump is blooming most heavily in early February.

Trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum), also known as dog tooth violet, is the next to appear. The foliage emerges in early February, the speckled succulent leaves piercing the dried leaves on the woodland floor. Leaves that appear in pairs will soon produce a single bloom. At my house, blooms appear around the third week of February. In south Georgia, the blooms appear as early as late January.

Trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum)

Trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum)

The fresh white blooms of bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are always a surprise as the shoots are well hidden by leaf cover until the moment they unfurl around the first of March. If you get a chance to see a leaf protectively curled around the bloom stem, you are seeing the best view in my opinion. Long after the blooms have gone, the leaves make an attractive groundcover when used in mass.

Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) and spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) start around the second week of March. Luckily these flowers bloom in groups that have a procession of blossoms, allowing the show to last for up to a month. As I write this in April, spring beauties and bluets are still around.

Trilliums are a favorite spring wildflower for many (and a Georgia specialty), but they don’t arrive all at once. The first species to bloom in my area is sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum). The mottled foliage is handsome enough, but when the sessile maroon bloom opens, one can’t help but be further impressed. The blooms last a very long time. Sessile means that the flower sits right next to the foliage with no stalk.

Mertensia 2013

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) start blooming about mid-March, along with celandine poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum). The blue and yellow combination of the two flowers is a natural pairing and duplicates well in the average garden.

Tiny rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) greets the official arrival of spring around the third week of March. This tiny flower packs a lot of punch when planted in the garden; in the wild the flowers are more modest but always a welcome sight poking up through the forest leaf cover.

Rue anemone 2006

Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

 

 

 

 

By early April other trilliums are unfurling. Other sessile trilliums like T. luteum and T. lancifolium are blooming while Catesby’s trillium (T. catesbaei) and Southern nodding trillium (T. rugelii) offer fresh white blooms on pedicels that hang below the leaves.

Columbine 072a

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

 

Mid-April brings a flurry of blooms from dependable garden favorites like foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and the exotic looking mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). All of these are great spreaders in conditions with adequate moisture and many a start of these spring bloomers has been passed onto new gardeners.

Tiarella Stevens Creek

Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

 

 

 

 

 

An early beardtongue is my last spring flower – purple Penstemon smallii blooms ahead of the more well known beardtongue P. digitalis. When allowed to seed around, this perennial creates a billowy cloud of purple flowers across the sunnier flower beds. It’s another good one to share with friends, and I often pot up extras for friends and spring plant sales.

I hope you find this timeline helpful. Each year is a little different, of course, but generally this is how spring rolls at my house and the natural areas around me when it comes to wildflowers.

Penstemon 004a

Penstemon smallii is a spring bloomer

© 2013, Ellen Honeycutt. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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Comments

  1. Kim says

    Thank you for this post. It helped me identify round leaf hepatica. I’ve yet to see it bloom, such an interesting leaf, I’ve been trying to figure out for weeks what plant it is, now I know. As spring rolls on, I’ll keep a watch out for the others above, I do have the sweet little anemone. I’ve always wanted to know what’s growing in the woods around me. Just joined the GNPS, very excited about that.
    Thanks again

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