Spring is upon us!

Add texture to your early garden with these Southern perennials. We asked the Horticulturist team at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to share their favorites. It’s time to start planting!

  1. Polygonatum biflorum, or Smooth Solomon’s Seal, features sprays of small white flowers peeping from beneath smooth leaves in late spring. The Latin name comes from the term “many knees,” referring to the knobbly-shaped rhizomes that make this plant an easy one to propagate. Solomon’s Seals are typically used as foliage plants and add an interesting architectural element when planted beside bleeding hearts, ferns, and hostas.
    Growing conditions: partial to full shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil 
    Size: 1–6 feet tall
    Zones: 3–9
  2. Dicentra eximia, or Wild Bleeding Heart, is a long-blooming perennial that adds a delicate texture to the garden with its intricately cut blue-green leaves. The heart-shaped flowers appear in early spring and continue sporadically until the fall. It thrives in filtered shade but will tolerate more sun if kept well watered. Once established, it will tolerate occasional periods of drought.
    Growing conditions: partial to full shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil.
    Size: 10–16 inches tall
    Zones: 3–9
  3. Delphinium tricorne, or Dwarf Larkspur, is a multi-stemmed herbaceous perennial in the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, featuring loose clusters of blue to dark purple flowers in the spring. Blooming for about three weeks, Dwarf Larkspur would create a spectacular display in a spring woodland garden. While it is attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies, it’s ignored by deer and rabbits!
    Growing Conditions: full sun in moist, well-drained soil
    Size: 12–18 inches tall
    Zones: 4–9
  4. Monarda punctata, or Spotted Beebalm, is a dense mounding perennial with tall bloom spikes that can reach up to 4 feet in height. Each flower spike is made up of a whorled composite of blooms and bracts that range in color from white to pale lavender to yellow with speckles of maroon throughout. This plant does best in full sun and attracts a wide variety of pollinators. While all Monarda are known for their pleasant aroma and attractive flowers, this species has a unique pale color and a conical bloom.
    Growing conditions: best in full sun
    Size: 3 feet tall
    Zones: 3–9 
  5. Hibiscus laevis, or Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow, is an herbaceous perennial with showy, hollyhock-like flowers that easily attract butterflies, bumblebees, moths, and hummingbirds. The whitish-pink flower petals open by day and close tightly at night. This plant is great for wetland gardens, bogs, or pond areas, but it also does well in fertile garden soil. While the plant has a large rhizomatic root system, it also spreads easily via seed.
    Growing conditions: thrives in full sun in medium-to-wet soil
    Size: 4–6 feet tall and 2–3 feet wide
    Zones: 4–9

These perennials, as well as trees, shrubs, natives, and more, are available for purchase at the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Spring Plant Sale April 11-13. Plants are propagated and grown with care by dedicated volunteers. Visit bbgardens.org/spring for more information.

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