Many plants can’t survive in the deep shade of the forest floor. Spring ephemerals are a group of plants that have evolved a way of doing just that.
Spring ephemerals bloom almost as soon as the snow melts, while the trees above them are still dormant. After flowering, the plants continue to hold their leaves open to take advantage of the short season of sunlight. The energy they produce through photosynthesis is stored in an underground structure.
Just a few weeks later, when the trees leaf out and block smaller plants’ access to sunlight, the spring ephemerals return to dormancy. Dying back to the ground, they wait all summer, fall, and winter before coming up again the following year.
Within a natural yard, spring ephemerals are a great choice for bringing early-season color to a shady spot.