Small Flowering Trees for Fall Planting

Flowering Trees 

Flowering trees are gems in the landscape. They put their bright colors right at eye level with striking intensity, announcing changes in seasons and becoming focal points in the landscape. They’re functional, too — use flowering trees to soften strong lines of homes or hardscape, or strategically position them to shade your home and reduce summer air-conditioning bills.

September is the ideal planting season for most of the country. Here are some of our favorite small flowering trees. Most of these stay in the 15- to 25-foot-high range, ideal for small gardens or around entryways, patios or decks.

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
This deciduous tree covers its bare branches with pink or white flowers in early spring. ‘Forest Pansy’ has purplish foliage.
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
Large pink or white flowers in midspring are followed by red berries. Leaves turn intensely red before dropping in fall. Needs partial shade in areas with hot, dry summers. Ask for disease-resistant varieties in eastern states.
Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
Large clusters of crapelike blooms in shades of white, pink, red and purple appear in summer on this deciduous tree. The bark is good-looking, shiny and peeling; fall color is yellow to red. Performs best in hot summer areas. Ask for varieties resistant to powdery mildew.
Magnolia (Magnolia)
Several species of small deciduous trees are included in this large family of plants. Most popular are the saucer magnolia (M. soulangiana) with huge white, pink or purple cup-shaped flowers in early spring, and the star magnolia (M. stellata) with large, starlike blooms, also in early spring.
Flowering crab apples (Malus)
These colorful deciduous trees produce early spring flowers in shades of white, pink, red and purple. Flowers are followed by colorful, edible fruit. Ask for disease-resistant varieties.
Flowering fruits (Prunus)
A large family of plants with many excellent small flowering trees, Prunus includes several types of fruitless purple-leaf plums and beautiful flowering cherries. Most are deciduous and produce white or pink fragrant flowers on bare branches in early spring.

Planting and Care

Check with your local nursery to make sure the trees you select are well adapted to your area. After planting, water frequently, well into the fall. Also mulch heavily with organic matter, such as compost or ground bark. Watch your tree closely for the next several months and inspect the leaves and branches for insect damage. A new tree in your landscape may create a new opportunity for ravaging insects. Help your tree get off to a great start by providing insect protection against pests such as aphids, leaf miners, borers, scale and Japanese beetles.