DALY: Early flowering plants color the late winter landscape

Tim Daly

Though the winter landscape appears dull and uninteresting, some early flowering plants are coming into bloom and are a sure sign that spring is on the way.

The Okame cherry trees with their pink to lavender flowers produce masses of noticeable blooms right now. In a few weeks, we will see other cherry trees in bloom, such as Yoshino, with their brilliant white blooms, and Kwanzan with their double pink flowers. However, cherry trees do poorly in our area due to the heat, humidity and the acidic clay soils and should not be planted.

Redbuds produce masses of small pink to rose color flowers. The variety Alba has white blooms. The tree grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet. The heart-shaped leaves emerge after flowering. Forest Pansy has purple to maroon colored leaves that turn green during the summer. Flowering crabapples produce blooms shortly after the redbuds and can reach a height of 15 to 30 feet. Their flowers come in many colors depending on the variety. Callaway produces white flowers whereas Indian Summer has rose-colored blooms. Both are excellent choices for areas that have minimal space and the planting of large trees would not be appropriate.

The winter daphne is a low-growing evergreen shrub with some varieties having variegated leaves. They produce highly fragrant rose to purple clusters of flowers that can be up to one inch in diameter. The paperbush or Edgeworthia is a deciduous plant that grows 4 to 6 feet in height with small tubular flowers that form yellow clusters that appear before the plant leaves out. Both plants flower in February and early March, thrive in the sun to part shade, are great for natural areas. They should be planted and left alone since the plants respond poorly to transplanting.

Witchazel plants are now in bloom with their blossoms consisting of long narrow petals that range from yellow to orange. They can grow up to 10 feet and an oval shape growth habit that spreads with age. The shrubs have few pests and require minimal pruning. Arnold’s promise has fragrant yellow flowers, and Jelena has multi-colored blossoms. Forsythias are coming into bloom with their yellow flowers and are easy to maintain once established. The shrubs are easy to propagate by stem cuttings. Flowering quinces are low growing plants with medium to dark green rounded leaves. The flowers vary in color. For example, the Cameo variety has apricot colored blooms and the ones on Scarlet Storm dark red ones. Some have thorns and even produce edible fruit.

A few vines produce interesting shows of flowers in early spring. The Carolina jessamines a twining vine with showy clusters of yellow trumpet-shaped blossom.

The crossvine is a fast-growing vine that climbs using tendrils to wrap around structures for support. It has orange to yellow colored funnel-shaped flowers that appear in early to mid- spring. Both vines thrive in the sun and shade but produce more blooms in sunlight. They are native to Georgia, are tough, durable plants that are relatively pest free, and are great for walls, trellises, and arbors.

The UGA Extension Gwinnett 2019 annual plant sale is underway. Many plants are available at affordable prices. Choices include blueberries, gardenias, ferns, goji berries, and many others. Many plants are available at affordable prices. To obtain an order form, one can be downloaded from the Extension website at www.ugaextension.org/gwinnett, or you can have one mailed to you by contacting the Extension office.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett. He can be contacted at 678-377-4011or tdaly@uga.edu