This time of year, we’re ready to look outside and see color. And the good news is, now is when properties in the Chicago area can think flowers, including making choices about what plant material to include in landscape beds and containers once the ground thaws.
Many of our clients want to know, “What are the best flowers to plant in spring in Chicago?” Of course, plant choice can impact a lot of factors, including maintenance expenses.
We always emphasize the importance of selecting flowers that will thrive in this region. (Chicago is Zone 6 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which determines what plants are likely to thrive in a given location.) Paying attention to the USDA Zone rating for plants is important because when we force plants to grow in climates where they require more “inputs” in the form of fertilizers and lawn care products, then the cost per plant increases and the risk of losing plant material also escalates.
Show-stopping seasonal color is one of the marks of a standout commercial property landscape… And with the hard work and investment you put into your property’s landscape beds, you want to your flowers to last all spring and into summer. Some of these varieties can even transition right into the next growing season!
Here is a roundup of the seven best flowers to plant in spring on your property.
Pansies enjoy full sun exposure and are known for their characteristic “faces”: They’re the painted ladies of the garden. Pansies are available in a full palette of colors, including pink, yellow, orange, purple, blue and white. They are ideal for containers and landscape borders in a property.
There are a wide range of violas—up to 600 species, including annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs. The bloom on a viola is petite compared to its relative, the pansy, but violas withstand heat and cold better. They can thrive in full or part-sun, and you’ll find delightful color combinations that add pop to a property’s entryway landscape beds, or perk up containers. ‘Amber Kiss’ is orange with hints of yellow and pink, while ‘Johnny-Jump Up’ has deep purple petals stroked with shades of lavender, yellow and white.
We love dusty miller for landscaping beds and containers, and the benefit of this flower is its longevity in Chicago: You can plant it in the spring and it will thrive until fall.
Dusty Miller is a compact, slow-growing foliage plant with green-silver, lacy leaves. It appreciates full sun and mixes well as a textured backdrop in a bed or container.
Give your landscape country cottage appeal with stock, an annual that loves full sun and creates an appealing border, bed or container flower.
Stock grows tall—up to 16 inches—and provides a big floral impact, featuring long stems clustered with blooms in shades of pink and purple.
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia)
This flower is hardy in early spring and lasts through summer and into fall. Known for its cluster blooms of tiny cross-shaped petals in white, pale pink and purple, you’ll get repeat blooms from this hard-working flower.
It’s a great choice for commercial properties’ landscape beds, paired with other annuals.
Nothing beats daffodils for great, natural color. This flower is one of the unofficial symbols of spring’s return, and we look forward to when these bulb plants begin peeking out of the ground, sometimes even bursting through when there’s still a hint of snow cover.
Daffodils are available in a range of varieties, including the easy ‘Baby Boomer’ that produces seven to eight blooms on each stem. Daffodils like full or part sun.
For sprays of bright yellow daffodils in the spring, plant bulbs in the fall.
Sweet tulips are a passion for some gardeners, and we understand why. Elegant, blooms atop slender stems demand attention in the landscape. They’re the type of flower that begs passersby to stop and snap a photo, especially when planted in big, colorful displays.
Speaking of colors, tulips are available in a full range, including red, orange, green, pink, white, yellow, multi-color and a purple so deep it looks black. These flowers will last all spring in a Chicago commercial landscape, making them an annual favorite.
Like daffodils, tulip bulbs need to be planted late in the previous year to make an appearance in the spring. Want a burst of bulb-induced color in your commercial landscape next spring? Ask your landscape contractor to include them in your fall plantings later this year.