Nature in Canada is always putting on a show and Spring — with its beautiful blooms — is one of the more colourful seasons. Spring flowers in Canada mean white pops of snowdrops, pink swaths of cherry blossoms, and vibrant bursts of tulips.
The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations can help you plan your trip to Canada to take in this floral beauty. We specialize in personalizing your itinerary for your needs and interests. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, avid photographer, or simply enjoy taking time to smell the roses, there are plenty of places to see amazing spring blooms while on a train trip across the country.
When is Spring in Canada?
Spring in Canada varies depending on the region, but it typically occurs between March and June. The country's vast size and diverse climate zones create a range of springtime experiences. In the southern regions, like British Columbia and southern Ontario, spring arrives earlier, with February through April seeing the first signs of warmth and blooming flowers.
Moving northward, spring arrives later, often not making its appearance until May or even June in places like northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. In the far north, spring is brief and marked by the rapid transition from snow to greenery. Wherever you travel, most places will have profusions of flowers in the spring.
Types of Spring Flowers in Canada
Canada boasts a stunning array of spring flowers, each adapted to the specific climatic conditions of the region. Depending on the region, some of these blossoms can be seen as early as February. If you’re wondering about the names of spring flowers in Canada, here are some of the most common blossoms:
- Tulips: These vibrant flowers are a symbol of spring, especially in Ottawa where the Canadian Tulip Festival takes place. Their bold colors carpet parks and gardens.
- Crocuses: One of the purple spring flowers in Canada, these delicate purple and white blossoms are often among the first to emerge, even through the lingering snow in some areas.
- Daffodils: With their sunny yellow petals, daffodils add a cheerful touch to gardens and public spaces across Canada.
- Lilacs: Their fragrant, lavender-hued clusters grace gardens, perfuming the air with their delightful scent.
- Trilliums: These white, three-petaled flowers are Ontario's provincial emblem and can be found in wooded areas.
- Cherry Blossoms: In Victoria and Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia, blossoming cherry trees make for a breathtaking display of pink and white in early spring.
- Bluebells: These tine blue flowers are a common sight in woodlands and forests.
- Irises: Graceful and elegant, irises come in various colors and can be found in gardens across the country.
Best Spots to See Spring Flowers in Canada
1. Celebrate Spring Flowers at the Canadian Tulip Festival
Every May, more than a million tulips will blossom in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, located in the province of Ontario, and in the nearby city of Gatineau in Quebec. This glorious botanical extravaganza is part of the world’s largest tulip festival, the Canadian Tulip Festival. This year marks its 71st anniversary and it will run from May 12–22.
In previous years, nearly 650,000 people have visited the region during the festival, to enjoy the flower display — which features more than 100 varieties of tulips — and to take part in concerts, lectures, special art exhibits, and much more.
The festival has a very special origin that relates to Canada’s role in liberating the Netherlands during World War II, as well as hosting members of the Dutch royal family during the conflict. After the war, the Netherlands began presenting Canada with tulip bulbs as a sign of gratitude. This tradition continues to this day.
If you time it right, you can take in the festival on our Canadian History and Culture by Rail Tour.
2. Find the Perfect Photo Opp at the Okanagan BC Bloom Tulip Festival
Whether or not you’re looking for the perfect Instagram shot, the Okanagan BC Bloom Festival will have you sharing photos of all the stunning spring flowers.
This festival in the West Coast province of British Columbia was originally held in the agricultural area around Abbotsford in the fertile Fraser Valley. It was the brainchild of Alexis Szarek, whose grandfather, a Dutch immigrant and farmer named Peter Warmerdamin, had been growing tulips, daffodils, and peonies since 1974. Alexis wanted others to be able to stroll through the farm’s tulip fields and enjoy the breathtaking display of color.
When the family relocated to the Okanagan, so did the festival. It features three acres with more than 20 varieties of tulips. There’s also food trucks and horse-drawn carriage rides, to help make your spring celebrations complete.
3. Enjoy a Flower Walk at the Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada. Located in Burlington, in the province of Ontario, it is part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. During Spring, the RBG’s inviting nature sanctuary trails are in full bloom with forest wildflowers such as spring ephemerals. Woodland trails — with names such as Bridle, Captain Cootes, Grey Doe, Armstrong and Ginger Valley — are strewn with delicate flowers, including trillium, trout lily, and toothwort.
The rejuvenated David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden embraces environmentally friendly trends in garden design, while still respecting its horticultural heritage, and provides broad sweeps of changing color and texture through the seasons.
4. Discover Spring Blooms at Montreal's Botanical Gardens
Located just minutes from downtown Montréal, in the province of Quebec, the Jardin botanique de Montréal (Montreal Botanical Gardens) is considered one of the world’s greatest gardens. Spend a glorious Spring day exploring its 10 exhibition greenhouses, three cultural gardens, the Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion, and more than 15 thematic gardens, all spread out over 75 hectares — the gardens host 10,000 plant species. In early Spring, you can enjoy tulips, begonias, hyacinths, narcissi, and orchids, among other blooms. Discover the Garden's major blooms using the annual calendar of blooms.
You can visit Montreal on several of our Eastern Canada rail vacations.
#1 Travel Tip: Enjoy early spring
Certain areas on the West Coast of Canada see milder winters and earlier springs. Victoria has its annual blossom count in early March each year. In 2023, the total count was more than 33-billion blooms!
5. Welcome Spring at The Butchart Gardens
Every season has its own claim to fame at Butchart Gardens, just outside the City of Victoria, in the province of British Columbia. Spring comes early to this coastal region and these gardens are renowned for their immersive displays of brilliant tulips, daffodils, and roses.
Founded by Jennie Butchart in the early 1900s, the gardens sit on what was once a barren limestone quarry that she reimaged as an expansive Edwardian Garden. Visitors will want to spend time leisurely strolling through the famous Sunken Garden and wandering the meditative Japanese Garden, but there’s also the stunning Rose Garden, the Italian Garden and the Star Pond. One should also make time for afternoon tea.
You can easily add on a visit to Victoria and The Butchart Gardens to any of our West Coast train trips.
6. Toast Spring at the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival
This heritage festival takes place at the end of May, each year, in Kentville, in the province of Nova Scotia. Running since 1933, it celebrates the gorgeous apple blossoms throughout the plentiful orchards of the Annapolis Valley. This year’s festival, with the theme “Uniquely Yours” runs from May 24 to May 29. Events include an Apple Blossom food truck party and Blossom Fireworks, as well as a Grand Street Parade and a carnival for kids. You can also enjoy the region's famous apple cider, and raise a glass to the season.
Explore Nova Scotia on our Canadian Eastern Rail Classic trip.
#2 Travel Tip: See blooms year-round
Canada is also home to inviting indoor botanical gardens that make getting your flower fix possible in winter. Check out Assiniboine Park Conservatory in Winnipeg, the Montreal Botanical Garden, and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Vancouver, to name just a few.
Provincial Flowers of Canada
While Canada does not have an official floral emblem, cach province and territory in Canada has chosen a unique flower to represent its identity and natural beauty. These floral emblems not only serve as symbols of pride but also highlight the diverse flora that thrives in the country's varied landscapes. From the enchanting Pacific Dogwood of British Columbia to the delicate Lady's Slipper of Prince Edward Island, these provincial flowers celebrate the rich tapestry of Canada's floral heritage.
Provincial Flower of British Columbia
The Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) is the official floral emblem of British Columbia. This native species was chosen as it embodies the spirit of the region and is a cherished symbol of British Columbia's natural splendor.
- Description and Appearance: The Pacific Dogwood is a deciduous tree or shrub known for its stunning blossoms. In spring, it produces large, creamy white, four-petaled flowers with distinct green centers. These flowers are often surrounded by oval, dark green leaves, creating a striking contrast. The blooms of the Pacific Dogwood have a delicate, sweet fragrance.
- Distribution and Habitat: Pacific Dogwoods can be found along the western coast of North America, from southern British Columbia down to California. In British Columbia, they thrive in the province's lush, temperate rainforests and mountainous regions. They are particularly abundant in the coastal areas, where the mild climate and ample rainfall provide the ideal conditions for their growth.
- Growing Requirements and Care: The Pacific Dogwood thrives in well-drained, acidic soils and dappled sunlight. Ensure they receive regular moisture, especially during dry spells. Prune them selectively to maintain their shape and encourage a full bloom. With proper care, Pacific Dogwoods can thrive in your garden, allowing you to enjoy the same enchanting beauty that graces the landscapes of British Columbia each spring.
Provincial Flower of Alberta
The official provincial flower of Alberta is the Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis). This resilient native plant thrives in a variety of conditions and is said to symbolize Alberta's natural beauty.
- Description and Appearance: The Wild Rose is a perennial shrub with delicate, fragrant pink flowers. These blossoms are characterized by their five distinctive petals, which surround a golden center of stamens. The leaves are serrated and dark green, creating a beautiful contrast with the soft pink blooms. These roses produce a sweet, subtle fragrance.
- Distribution and Habitat: In Alberta, Wild Roses can be found throughout the province, from the prairies to the foothills and into the Rocky Mountains. They thrive in a variety of habitats, from open meadows to woodland edges, and are often seen along roadsides.
- Growing Requirements and Care: Wild Roses are relatively easy to cultivate. They prefer well-drained soil and can tolerate a range of conditions, from full sun to partial shade. Pruning should be done after flowering to maintain their shape and encourage new growth. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. The Wild Rose will not only add a touch of Alberta's natural beauty to your garden but will also provide a haven for pollinators with their nectar-rich blossoms.
Provincial Flower of Saskatchewan
The Western Red Lily (Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum) is the provincial flower of Saskatchewan. This striking wildflower, also known as the Prairie Lily, can be found across the province.
- Description and Appearance: The Western Red Lily has trumpet-shaped flowers with brilliant red or orange petals, which curve back to reveal a dark centre. Each blossom has a slender, green stem, and they typically grow in clusters. The Western Red Lily's vibrant color and elegant form make it a captivating sight.
- Distribution and Habitat: This lily is found throughout the prairies of Saskatchewan, as well as in neighboring regions of Alberta and Manitoba. It thrives in open, sunny areas, including prairies, meadows, and grasslands.
- Growing Requirements and Care: These wildflowers prefer well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Plant the bulbs in the fall for a dazzling display the following summer. Once established, they require minimal care, as they are well-suited to the prairie climate. Keep the soil moderately moist, and they will reward you with their stunning blooms, adding a touch of Saskatchewan's natural beauty to your landscape.
Provincial Flower of Ontario
The White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) is the provincial flower of Ontario, found throughout the woodlands and forests of the province.
- Description and Appearance: The White Trillium, also known as the Large-flowered Trillium, is a woodland perennial. It's known for its white, three-petaled blossoms that embody simplicity. These petals surround a central hub of three broad, deep green leaves. The White Trillium's striking appearance and its association with purity and grace make it a beloved emblem of Ontario's natural heritage.
- Distribution and Habitat: White Trilliums can be found throughout the deciduous and mixed forests of Ontario, especially in the southern parts of the province. They thrive in the rich, moist soils of woodlands and shaded areas. Their often blanket the forest floor with their delicate blooms in early spring, adding a touch of enchantment to the province's natural landscapes.
- Growing Requirements and Care: These woodland plants prefer well-drained, humus-rich soil and thrive in partial to full shade. Plant their bulbs in the fall, allowing them to establish themselves over the winter. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. With patience and care, you can enjoy the same elegant beauty that graces the forests of Ontario each spring.
Provincial Flower of Quebec
The provincial flower of Quebec is the Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor). This native wildflower boasts a unique and vibrant appearance.
- Description and Appearance: The Blue Flag Iris is known for its colourful blossoms, which feature deep blue-violet petals adorned with striking white or yellow markings, and its unique iris shape. The plant itself boasts long, slender, sword-like leaves.
- Distribution and Habitat: Blue Flag Irises are native to a variety of wetland habitats across Quebec, including the province's bogs, swamps, and shorelines. These blooms grace these soggy landscapes with vibrant splashes of color.
- Growing Requirements and Care: If you're considering adding Blue Flag Irises to your garden, it's essential to replicate their natural habitat. They thrive in consistently moist to wet soils and prefer full to partial sun. Plant the rhizomes (the thickened underground stems) in early spring, ensuring they are submerged in shallow water. Regularly maintain soil moisture, especially in the growing season. With proper care, you can enjoy the same radiant beauty that symbolizes the province of Quebec, creating a little piece of its natural charm in your own garden.
[ Read: Best Time to Visit Quebec ]
Provincial Flower of New Brunswick
The Purple Violet (Viola cucullata) is the provincial flower of New Brunswick. This delicate and charming wildflower adds elegance to its scenic landscapes.
- Description and Appearance: The Purple Violet is a small, perennial wildflower known for its distinctive violet-blue petals. These petals are delicately marked with purple lines and have a characteristic hooded shape, giving the flower a unique appearance. The plant typically grows low to the ground, with heart-shaped leaves and slender stems.
- Distribution and Habitat: Purple Violets can be found throughout the woodlands, meadows, and damp areas of New Brunswick. They often thrive in rich, well-drained soils and are commonly seen in shady or partially shaded locations. Their ability to flourish in a variety of habitats showcases their adaptability.
- Growing Requirements and Care: Purple Violets prefer well-drained soil and can be grown in both full sun and partial shade. These wildflowers have a natural preference for moist conditions, so ensuring consistent soil moisture is crucial for their success. They can be started from seeds or transplanted from existing plants.
[ Read: Best Time to Visit New Brunswick ]
Provincial Flower of Nova Scotia
The Mayflower (Epigaea repens),a delicate and fragrant wildflower, is the provincial flower of Nova Scotia.
- Description and Appearance: The Mayflower is a low-growing, evergreen perennial plant. Its dainty, bell-shaped flowers range in color from pale pink to white and feature a delightful, sweet scent. These blossoms are one of the early spring flowers in Canada, often before the plant's leaves fully unfurl.
- Distribution and Habitat: Mayflowers are native to the forests, woodlands, and rocky coastal areas of Nova Scotia. They thrive in acidic, well-drained soils, often under the shade of coniferous trees. Their ability to endure the province's varying landscapes and add a touch of early spring beauty to its natural settings makes them an appropriate emblem.
- Growing Requirements and Care: These flowers prefer acidic, well-drained soil and are partial to full shade. Since they bloom early in the spring, it's essential to plant them in a location where they can receive ample moisture in their growing season.
[ Read: Best Time to Visit Nova Scotia ]
Provincial Flower of Prince Edward Island (PEI)
The Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, Canada's smallest province. This native orchid is on many flower-spotters’ bucket list.
- Description and Appearance: The Lady's Slipper is a unique orchid known for its striking appearance. The flower features a single, pouch-like petal that is pink, purple, or white, with a moccasin-like shape that resembles a slipper. This petal forms a distinct cup, while two smaller petals extend upward like delicate wings. A third petal forms a protective hood over the central column of the flower.
- Distribution and Habitat: Lady's Slippers can be found in the woodlands, bogs, and damp areas of Prince Edward Island, as well as in other parts of eastern North America. They prefer acidic soils and thrive in shaded or partially shaded environments, often appearing as solitary blooms or in small clusters.
- Growing Requirements and Care: Cultivating Lady's Slippers in a garden setting can be challenging due to their specific habitat requirements. They prefer acidic, well-drained soil and dappled shade. These orchids have a mycorrhizal relationship with fungi, which makes transplanting them difficult. Instead, consider preserving these native orchids in their natural habitats and admiring their delicate beauty when exploring the woodlands of Prince Edward Island.
Provincial Flower of Newfoundland
The Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is the provincial flower of Newfoundland and Labrador. This unique and carnivorous plant thrives in the province's distinctive natural landscape.
- Description and Appearance: The Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous perennial plant, easily recognized by its pitcher-shaped leaves. These leaves are usually green with reddish-purple veins and produce nectar to attract insects. Once inside the pitcher, the slippery surface and downward-pointing hairs prevent insects from escaping, and they are eventually digested by the plant. In the spring, it also produces showy, nodding, purple or red flowers, adding to its allure.
- Distribution and Habitat: Pitcher Plants are native to the bogs, wetlands, and acidic soils of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as other parts of eastern North America. They thrive in nutrient-poor soils, where their carnivorous habit helps supplement their nutrient intake. These plants are often found in damp, open areas and are well-suited to the province's unique environments.
- Growing Requirements and Care: Cultivating Pitcher Plants in a garden setting can be challenging due to their specific habitat requirements and carnivorous nature. They need acidic, nutrient-poor, well-drained soils and thrive in full sun to partial shade. If you're keen to introduce Pitcher Plants to your garden, it's advisable to recreate the conditions of a bog or wetland. Given the complexities of caring for carnivorous plants, many enthusiasts choose to appreciate these remarkable species in their native habitats.
Spring in Canada is a time of renewal and natural beauty, as the country's diverse landscapes burst into colour. From the delicate trilliums of Ontario to the hardy wild roses of Alberta, each provincial flower tells a unique story about its region's character. These floral emblems are an invitation to explore the captivating beauty of this spectacular country.
For those seeking the best places to see spring flowers, consider visiting public gardens, parks, and natural reserves across the country. Notable locations include the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia and Ottawa's Canadian Tulip Festival. Additionally, the Canadian Rockies and Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario offer breathtaking displays of wildflowers against stunning backdrops.
Our local travel experts can help you plan your trip to take best advantage of these seasonal wonders.
Frequently Asked Questions
What flowers bloom in spring in Canada?
In spring, Canada showcases a diverse array of flowers, including tulips, crocuses, daffodils, lilacs, trilliums, and cherry blossoms, depending on the region.
What is the king of spring flowers?
While there is no official "king" of spring flowers, tulips are often considered a prominent and beloved symbol of spring in Canada.
What are the first purple flowers in spring?
Crocuses are among the first purple flowers to bloom in spring in Canada.
Are there any flower festivals or events in Canada that celebrate the arrival of spring?
Yes, Canada hosts various spring flower festivals, such as the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, celebrating the arrival of spring with vibrant displays.
How accessible are the popular spring flower viewing locations for seniors? Are there well-paved paths, benches, and other amenities?
Many popular spring flower viewing locations in Canada provide accessible amenities, including well-paved paths, benches, and facilities to accommodate seniors and visitors with mobility challenges. However, accessibility may vary by location, so it's advisable to check in advance.
Are there any cultural or historical stories associated with spring flowers in Canada?
In Canada, the tulip is associated with the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, which has its roots in the gratitude of the Dutch people for Canada's role in their liberation during World War II.
Do I need any special permissions, passes, or tickets to access certain flower viewing sites in Canada?
The requirements for accessing flower viewing sites vary. While some locations are freely accessible, others may require admission fees or special passes, especially during flower festivals or events. It's recommended to check in advance for specific sites and events.
About the author: Athena McKenzie is the Managing Editor at Fresh Tracks Canada. An experienced lifestyle journalist, she has written about travel, design, arts and entertainment. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Zoomer Magazine, Elle Canada and... Read more
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