Five Shrubs and Trees You Should Grow - Because They Are Blooming Now!

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Tired of winter? Grow these 5 plants, and you will have blossoms in a vase  on your table in April – or earlier if you force them. All these beauties are in bloom for me now, so let’s have a look at what I have, and what they need to do well.

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1.     Pussywillows (Salix caprea or S. discolor). These are finishing up and many are showing yellow pollen on the fuzzy male blossoms now. They have been blooming by ponds and streams for a month or more. You can root vigorous young branches now by cutting them to 12 inches pieces and pushing them into soggy soil. Strip off any of this year’s growth before doing that. Full sun is best.

These pussywillows are shedding pollen at the end of their display

2.     February Daphne (Daphne mezereum) is so lovely I named my dog after it. In southern New England perhaps it blooms in February, but here it opens its pink, fragrant blossoms in early- to mid-April. It’s a medium-sized, slow-growing shrub that does well in full to part sunshine. It stays about 4 to 5 feet tall and wide, and rarely if ever needs pruning.

Daphne mezereum smells great, too!

3.     Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia) is quintessential spring to many of us. The brilliant yellow of daffodils brighten gray days. It is fast-growing and not fussy. But it is a messy plant the sends up root suckers and often roots from stem tips that flop to the ground. Prune each year after blooming. I like it pruned to a vase shape, or even a ball. Good varieties include, but are not limited to, New Hampshire Gold, Vermont Sun, Meadowlark and Northern Sun. Full sun to half a day of sun. Not particular about soil.

My neighbor's forsythia is on an embankment and not been pruned in ages.

4.     Red Maple (Acer Rubrum). Not to be confused with the red-leafed Japanese red maple, this is a full-sized native maple. Its fuzzy red blossoms are littering the lawn and sidewalk now, and the stems are also red, but later the leaves will be green. It’s a full-sized tree that will grow in wet soil and places where our sugar maples would be very unhappy. It tends to be very vertical in its growth habit.

Red maple blossoms

5.     Merrill Magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri, ‘Merrill’) might be my favorite tree. I’ve had one for about 20 years, and it reliably blooms in April. Mine is nearly 40 feet tall and 20 wide. It’s in moist soil by my stream, but grows well in dry soil, too. By late April it will display a thousand white, lightly fragrant 3- to 4-inch wide blossoms. The fuzzy buds, like pussywillows on steroids, are handsome all winter, and I’ve sold the glossy green leaves to a florist for use in summer bouquets. It’s lovely in every season.

Merrill magnolia photo taken April 16, 2012 (it's a little later this year)

So think about planting some (or all) of these this year if you long for flowers early in spring.

By the way, if you need someone to rescue your overgrown apple tree, I’m your guy – if you live in the Upper Valley. Call me at 603-543-1307 or e-mail me at  Or I can give you a private pruning lesson. I do blueberry pruning, too.

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