GARDENING: Add spring color to your landscape

I am making a concerted effort this year to ensure that I have color in the landscape all season. I did pretty good in the early spring from March to mid-April. I am in the process of evaluating plants that do well in late April to mid-May.

Below is a list of great plants for color this time of the year. Of course, this warm weather speeds things up a bit and the blooms won’t last as long, but at least it’s color!

Creeping phlox is a low growing ground cover and is a common mid-spring plant. I have seen some beautiful displays. This plant is great for the front of the border and for rock gardens. Once it finishes blooming, you don’t need to deadhead, and it looks fine all season.

There are new cultivars of creeping phlox that should be used instead of the purple that you see everywhere. All do great in full sun.

Candystripe has beautiful pink and white striped flowers while Snowflake is pure white. Drummond’s pink has dark green foliage with bright pink flowers and there are some that are more of a maroon color.

ExploreVictory Gardens returning, expanding

Next is the perennial candytuft or Iberis sempervirens. This is also a front of the border plant that grows around four inches tall and around two feet wide. The pure white flowers last almost three weeks and the foliage is somewhat evergreen.

Coral bells or Heuchera is another favorite for spring color. While they don’t bloom until later in the summer, their foliage colors remind me of a candy shop. I can’t stop collecting the many cultivars that are available.

Mine are in a perennial bed in front of the house and a good distance from my office window. However, the colors stand out and I can see them clearly. The reds, maroons, light orange, and coral colors are beautiful.

Coral bells grow just fine in our clay soils if you amend with organic matter when you plant. Also, don’t plant them where the soil remains wet in the winter. They won’t tolerate this.

Some are labeled for sun, but they do much better in the shade. They can also tolerate dry shade which is what I have.

Also blooming right now are the Tiarella or foam flowers. These shade lovers are very similar to Heuchera, but have white flowers that are on top of the foliage, resembling a foamy layer in the garden.

In addition, the foliage has great variegation depending on the cultivar and gives you color in the shade all season.

When you combine a certain species of Heucheras and Tiarellas you get a hybrid plant for the shade called Heucherellas. These also have great foliage color and flowers. I have these mixed in with my coral bells because of the foliage.

Finally, just finishing up the season are my late daffodils. Keep in mind this fall when you purchase daffodils, you can buy early, mid, and late season bloomers. I have some of each so that I have color all spring.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

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