What Are Flowering Ephemerals: Tips For Growing Spring Ephemerals

Yellow Ephemeral Wildflowers
spring flower
(Image credit: georgewinstonlee)

That unexpected, but brief burst of blooming color you see as winter ends likely comes, at least in part, from spring ephemerals. It may be the dainty blossom of woodland poppies, downy yellow violets, or dogtooth violets, the latter not related to the common violet. Read more to learn how to add this burst of color to your late winter landscape with spring ephemerals.

What are Flowering Ephemerals?

Flowering ephemeral info says these plants are wildflowers, able to exist without human intervention. Some are perennials, but many are self-seeding annuals. Growing them in your landscape is easy and worthwhile when you see that first spring bloom. Most prefer a part shade to shade location with filtered sun. Blooms appear just as the soil is touched by warmth at the end of winter. These plants go dormant in summer, leaving room for continuing blooms of other flowers throughout late spring and summer. Originating on the floor of the forest, plants like Dutchman’s breeches are attractive ephemerals, long-lived perennials that seed and often naturalize. Its spring flowers look like a pair of white pantaloons. Related to bleeding heart, also an ephemeral, plant the pair together for blooms of hearts and breeches. There are several types of bleeding hearts. Consider growing bitterroot and bloodroot for colorful blooms as well. Grow them with other perennials that bloom in spring or those that blossom in late winter, such as hellebores and crocus. The fleeting blooms of spring ephemerals may follow one another or you may have more than one blossom at the same time. Plant several in a garden under a tree, if you like, as these flowers that bloom briefly usually do so before leaves grow on the trees. Now that you’ve learned what are flowering ephemerals, you can have them in place to bloom for you. Start them from seed in autumn for surprise blooms in late winter. For a bigger surprise, plant a pack of mixed wildflower seed and see which spring ephemerals bloom first in your landscape.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.