Show Off Your Spring Whites
Let these delightful white-flowering trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs brighten your garden.
No bulb is showier in spring than the tulip. They put on a spectacular show when planted in a mass. Hybrid tulips are the tallest and most imposing, but they’re best treated an annuals and replanted every fall. Give them full sun and well-drained soil. Among our favorite whites: late-blooming ‘Maureen’ (shown here), lily-flowered ‘White Triumphator,’ and midseason ‘Ivory Floradale.’
Daffodils (Narcissus sp)
Daffodils are the most dependable bulbs for the South, blooming year after year with little care. They only need sun and well-drained soil. Critters, including deer and rodents, won’t eat them. Among our favorite whites are ‘Ice Follies’ (shown here), ‘Stainless,’ ‘Thalia,’ ‘Avalanche,’ ‘Geranium,’ and ‘Mount Hood.’
What would spring be without white azaleas? There are many different choices ranging from dense, compact growers that reach 3-4 feet tall (‘Delaware Valley White,’ ‘Everest,’ ‘Glacier’) to large, rangy types that can get twice that big (‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’, shown here). Azaleas like moist, acid, well-drained soil and light, dappled shade.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Native to the Southeast, this beloved tree grows 20-25 feet tall and wide with branches arranged in tiers. Showy, white blooms appear before the leaves in mid-spring. ‘Appalachian Spring’ is a superior, disease–resistant selection. Plant in full to partial sun and moist, acid, well-drained soil.
Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus)
This carefree vase-shaped tree grows about 15 to 20 feet tall. In late spring, fleecy clouds of fragrant, white flowers appear atop glossy, green leaves. Female trees bear attractive dark-blue fruits. Plant in full to partial sun and well-drained soil.
Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum)
Imagine a shrub about 12 feet tall and wide that’s festooned with clusters of white blossoms up to 8 inches across. There’s no missing it. The flower emerge lime-green and then change to pure white. Give this shrub full to partial sun and well-drained soil.
'Elsa Sass' Peony
This magnificent peony grows about 26 inches tall. Large, very fragrant, double white flowers good for cutting appear in late spring. Give peonies full sun and moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Don’t cut back the foliage until it yellows in fall.
White Japanese Roof Iris (Iris tectorum ‘Alba’)
This easy-to-grow species boasts the finest foliage the irises. Pendulous fans of light-green leaves look good year-round and mix well with darker foliage. Flowers are white with yellow crests. Japanese roof iris likes moist, fertile, well-drained soil and light shade.
Double Reeves Spirea (Spiraea cantoniensis)
This arching shrub grows 5 to 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Double white flowers festoon the branches in late spring. Easy to grow; likes full sun and well-drained soil. Prune after flowering. Deer won’t eat it.
Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)
Outstanding drought-tolerant, shade-loving companion to hostas and heucheras. Arching stems with white-edged leaves reach 3 feet tall. Fragrant, white, bell-shaped flowers dangle from stems in spring. Spreads slowly to form a clump.