Spring Favorites: Flowering Trees
For a perfect complement to sparkling springtime skies – and the perfect antidote to winter – be sure your landscape includes at least one spring-blooming tree. We’ve listed a few of our most versatile and dependable favorites, which bear blooms infused with various hues, including delicate pink, fiery red and marshmallow white.
Choosing a Flowering Tree
During the spring flowering season, window-shop for blooming trees by viewing trees in your neighborhood or at a local public garden. Take pictures and make notes of tree name, flowering window and any other pertinent information. When you’re selecting a flowering tree for your landscape, use these notes to guide you. Also consider these tips:
- Size matters. Make sure you have adequate room on all sides to accommodate mature growth. Small spaces necessitate small trees that don’t overpower tighter areas in your yard or garden.
- Shop and plant in spring – in all but the warmest zones. In these areas, purchase trees for winter planting.
- Blend colors like a designer by choosing a flowering tree with blooms that complement your home’s exterior color.
- If you require a specific flower hue, try to buy trees in bloom to be sure you are satisfied with what you are getting.
Site It Right
Carefully consider your planting location to ensure you will get the most enjoyment out of your tree’s bloom time. You’ll want to watch the show from both indoors and out.
- Consider the background. Pale-tinted blooms disappear against a light backdrop, but shine when staged against evergreens.
- Some flowering trees are fragrant. Be sure to site perfumed bloomers where you can savor the scent.
- In northern zones, plants may flower while it’s still cold outside. Site early bloomers where they’re visible from indoors.
- In the coldest regions, consider planting trees in a northern exposure, which may delay flowering and help prevent late-spring frost damage to flowers or buds.
If you already have blooming trees in your yard, the proper time for tree pruning is in the dormant season. If you wait too long you may remove next year’s blooms. Read our guidelines on when to prune trees.
7 Blooming Beauties
We selected these flowering trees for their beauty and versatility in the landscape. You can add to your tree’s impact by under-planting with bulb favorites such as daffodil, tulip or Dutch iris. Or skirt a tree with flowering shrubs that unfurl complementary-hued blooms. Good candidates include weigela, viburnum or azalea.
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
A classic spring beauty, flowering dogwood is a native tree common along woodland edges. Showy flower petals are actually bracts that come in white, pink, rose or deep rose. Blossoms appear before leaves unfurl and fade to bright red berries beloved by birds. Leaves blaze red in autumn. Full sun to part shade. USDA Zones 5– 9.
Size: 15–30 feet high and 15–25 feet wide
Landscape use: Patio tree, shade tree, specimen tree, good understory tree with high canopy, established trees
Flowering crabapple (Malus spp.)
Stunning blooms frequently showcase multiple colors with buds showing one hue and opening to reveal another. Single or double flowers offer shades of pink, red and white. Fall foliage varies from showy to nondescript. Fruit may add winter interest and attract birds; some fruit is edible. Some selections are fruitless. Choose disease-resistant types. Full sun. USDA Zones 4–10.
Size: 8–40 feet high, but commonly 10–25 feet high and wide
Landscape use: Lawn or shade tree, privacy screen along fences, good allée or espalier tree
Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
A native tree that shows off its white blooms best when planted against a dark background. White flowers are lightly fragrant and open after dogwoods fade. Plants thrive in moist, acidic soil and frequently have multiple trunks. Full sun; afternoon shade preferable in hottest regions. USDA Zones 3–9.
Size: 12–20 feet high and 10–15 feet wide
Landscape use: Street tree, patio tree, lawn tree
Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume)
Exquisite single or double blossoms in shades of pink, rose or white decorate branches in the heart of winter. Trees flower as early as February in warmest regions. These beauties form lovely, gnarled trunks. Full sun to part shade. USDA Zones 6–9; shelter in Zone 6.
Size: 15–20 feet high and wide
Landscape use: Entry garden, patio tree, lawn tree. Plant where it’s visible from indoors; blooms open when weather is too cold for outdoor activity.
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Rose-pink blooms blanket branches in early spring, appearing before leaves. Look for selections with white, wine-red or pink flowers. Heart-shaped green leaves fade to gold in autumn. Brown seed pods dangle from sculptural branches after leaves fall. Full sun to part shade. USDA Zones 4– 9.
Size: 20–35 feet high and 25–35 feet wide
Landscape use: Lawn tree, deck or patio tree, edge of woodland garden
Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
Large, green, fuzzy flower buds open in late winter to early spring to reveal exquisite blooms. Flowers are large with petals painted in shades of pink, rose, purple, white and bicolor blends. Late frosts frequently damage blossoms in colder areas. Full sun to part shade. USDA Zones 4–9.
Size: 15–30 feet high and 15–30 feet wide
Landscape use: Lawn tree, deck or patio tree, espalier
Japanese flowering, or Yoshino, cherry (Prunus x yedoensis)
Crank up spring flower power with this blooming beauty, which paints the season with petal hues of pink and white. Japanese flowering cherry trees have national renown, thanks to plantings in Washington, D.C. Leaves unfurl after blossoms open and provide golden fall color. Full sun. USDA Zones 5–9.
Size: 20–35 feet high and wide
Landscape use: Sidewalk or patio tree, lawn tree
Image 5434726: Larry Trekell, Bugwood.org
Fringe Tree Image: Jason Sturner 72