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Moss' Top Ten Plants of May

May is a transition month. Although some bulbs are still going, May is when perennials and wildflowers become more prevalent. Shrubs and flowering trees continue their show as well. My list of favorites for May well exceeds 10. Honorable mention goes to Helleborus lividus, Arisaema dracontium, prairie trillium, appendaged waterleaf, Solomon's plume, anemone sylvestris, bearded iris, snowball viburnum, American beech, and Norway spruce. Look for them to be featured in 09.

For a list of wildflowers, check out Spring Shade Perennials.

As always, tropical, mild winter, and Chicago winter hardy plants comprise the list.


Click on thumb for larger image





cherokee chief dogwood flower

Cherokee Chief Dogwood (Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief')

Ornamental tree with a long bloom period during mid spring.   Before anthracnose ravaged the plantings, streets in my hometown of Spartanburg were lined with them. Plant disease resistant varieties like Cherokee Chief

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates

white tree peony jp

Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)

Spectacular blooms cover this shrubby peony. Tissue paper petals and golden stamens are packed in these large flowers. Pithy shrubs rarely exceed 4' but ca spread to twice that width. Excellent cutflowers.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates

white bleeding heart

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Tuberous perennial with interesting heart-shaped flowers arranged in sprays. Glaucous foliage can reach 4'. In mesic conditions, bleeding hearts grow and spread vigorously. Perfect under deciduous trees and partly shaded gardens.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates

candy flowering spurge

Candy Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma 'Candy')

Low perennials with brightly colored , long lasting bracts. Candy is a superior cultivar and the perfect compliment for spring bulbs, like Darwin tulips and Spanish bluebells. Neat, tidy clumps give it the common name cushion spurge.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates

Globemaster alliums

Globemaster (Allium 'Globemaster')

Massive softball size flowerheads loaded with hundreds of individual florets. Stalks rise above the leaves to almost 3'. One of the largest and most dramatic of the spring bulbs.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

arisaema sikokkianum

Japanese White Jack (Arisaema sikkokianum)

Tuberous perennials suited to moist woodlands and shady gardens. The most visually stunning of all the Jacks. White knob-like spadix arises from a dark spathe. Like all Jacks, red berries produced in late summer. Great cutflower

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates

spanish bluebells close

Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)

Bulbous plants resembling hyacinths. Perfect for underplanting deciduous trees and shrubs. Forms large colonies over time. Plant with Siberian squill, grape hyacinths, and Virginia bluebells for a procession of blue bells.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

narcissus Tripartite

Tripartite Daffodil (Narcissus 'Tripartite')

Exquisite, fragrant, late blooming daffodil. I am not a fan of split corona daffodils. Tripartite is the exception. Appears to have N. triandrus parentage. Extends the daffodil season. One of the last to bloom along with After All and Sinopel.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

golden fairy lily

Golden Fairy Lily (Chlidanthus fragrans)

Half hardy, bulbous perennial with daffodil yellow flowers that smell like sweet celery. Although small (10") and short lived (about a week), these are one of my most anticipated plants. In cold climates grow in containers.


scadoxus multiflorus

Blood Lily (Scadoxus multiflorus)

Tender bulbous perennial with dramatic flowerheads rivaling Allium Globemaster. Although I grow them as a houseplant, blood lilies can be planted in the garden after the frost date. Scores of narrow flower petals and stamens burst from the bud to form brilliant red spheres.


wemoss.org 2008, Last Updated May 17, 2008