Favorite Perennials for Spring Gardens


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Today, we’re talking about favorite perennials for spring gardens! I’m more of a veggie gardener, so while many of my friends are focusing on flowering bushes and plants, I’m also sharing practical perennials you can plant for food too!

favorite perennials for early spring gardens

Favorite Perennials for Spring Gardens

While this might sound self deprecating, I consider myself to be a lazy gardener. That’s not meant to be derogatory, it’s just a fact of life. I want to do things that will give me the most bang for my buck and that includes planting perennials that will come back year after year.

There’s nothing more satisfying than going out to my garden after a long winter and seeing signs of life in plants I planted several years ago! Including early spring perennials in your garden is not only a  great way to get that first hint of spring with blooms and leaves, but it’s also a fabulous way to get the earliest food from your garden!

first asparagus


If you don’t like asparagus, you’re just crazy in my humble opinion. There’s nothing better than fresh asparagus straight out of the garden. I love watching for signs of life in my asparagus patch and I’m very excited that this is my asparagus’s third season. That means I can finally harvest a nice bounty. The first asparagus stalk is such a fun find each year!!



I really, really love rhubarb. I use it to make crisp, muffins, scones. If it was ever ready at the same time as my strawberries (and I had enough of both) I would use it to make jam. Recently, I tried to explain rhubarb to a city boy. He kept saying, so it’s a root? NO! It’s not a root. It’s a stalk, right? In Iowa it grows like a weed and most people don’t even harvest it.

I find this almost weed status very ironic, because for some reason, I’ve had such a hard time establishing my own rhubarb. Once it’s established, though, it’s very easy to grow and I finally figured out the tric.

Growing Rhubarb! Tips and tricks for a great harvest!

Click the link to get all the secret rhubarb growing tips!
Iris flanking my garden

Spring Bulbs

One of the first signs of spring in Eastern Iowa is the appearance of spring bulbs. After a long winter, nothing is more inspiring than when I first spot my daffodils and tulips. I love that I plant them once and they come back year after year. The first to show up at my house are usually the tulips. They come out in late March or April, depending on how severe our winter was.

Then the daffodils come out. Sometimes, they even precede the tulips, but it just all depends. At this time, my irises also start growing. They flank the four corners of my garden and provide such a pretty back drop year after year when they start blooming in late May or early June.

azaleas for early spring gardens


I’ve been traveling on the East Coast for the last couple of weeks and am simply blown away by the gorgeous azaleas. They’re every where in Washington, DC. Huge, beautiful bushes of so many different colors flank house after house.

I’ve never really noticed them in Iowa before and wonder why. After a little bit of investigating, I think they’ll grow in my zone of 5b, and I’m excited to plant them around my house when we finally get to landscaping.

I did read that they like shadier areas and don’t do well around black walnut trees which we have way too many of. The blooms are so cheerful and springy though, that I’ve got to figure out a way to add a few azaleas to my landscape

hostas for early spring gardens Hostas

This hosta is at my friend’s house in New Jersey, but we also have hostas on the north side of our barn. I saw their little nubs peeking up out of the ground right before we left and am always thrilled to see them popping up. I particularly love hostas because they are so prolific and easy to divide. Plant them once, and then be rewarded with new hostas a couple years later. For free! 🙂

Tuesdays in the Garden

These five perennials come back year after year and I love them all in early spring gardens. Their promise of warm weather and fun summers is inspiration! I hope you’ll check out my blogging friend’s favorite spring plants as well!

Tuesdays in the Garden

Jami An Oregon Cottage

11 Easy to Care for Spring Plants from Jami at An Oregon Cottage

Frugal Family Home

What’s Blooming in May from Shelly at Frugal Family Home

Diane Homemade Food Junkie

Spring Flowering Bushes You’ll Love from Diane at Homemade Food Junkie

Angie The Freckled Rose

Top Spring Garden Blooms from Angie at the Freckled Rose

Do you have a favorite perennial for spring gardens? I’d love to hear!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. I’m like you and I like perennials in the garden. I think my favorite flowering perennial is the hydrangea. I just love the flowers and that it doesn’t take too much care. For edibles rhubarb is good for sweet things and chives are a savory favorite of ours. Although I did get my artichoke to winter over this year and we have 4 artichokes coming on which is really exciting. I started it from seed last year and I’m hoping we get to enjoy a homegrown artichoke soon.

    Out of all the flowers you mentioned, Iris and asparagus are the only two we don’t’ grow at our home.

  2. Right now we are SWIMMING in asparagus because I planted way too much 8 years ago – we’re eating it almost everyday and I’m giving it away right and left. I like it, but at this rate, we get tired of it and so when it’s time to let it fern out, we’re ready, ha!

    Still waiting on rhubarb, though I think the stalks will be large enough in a week or two – I have all your other picks in my garden, so great minds and all that. 😉 Weirdly, even though azaleas are a staple here in the PNW, they don’t grow well for me. Win some and lose some!

  3. Rhubarb is ironic for me too! It’s easily grown here. but I have failed at it twice, way back when. I have had success at last with our current planting. It’s thriving. I hope yours does too. I have also heard the black walnut leaves and seeds are noxious to other plants. We do have a flower bed sort of under our huge black walnut. But it is a raised bed and that seems to be ok. Good luck with azaleas. They are so pretty!!

  4. I really want to plant asparagus! I’ve wanted it in my veggie garden for awhile now. Since it’s a perennial, I need to make a spot for it so it can come back year after year. Your irises are gorgeous! Still waiting on mine. Hopefully sometimes in the next week or so. Do you have a favorite variety of hosta? I’m looking to plant more this year. They are such a fabulous hardy plant to have! Great list of perennials!