If you're not already convinced of the beauty that flowering trees lend to a landscape in spring, then let these pictures serve the purpose of convincing you. You wouldn't leave your fall yard without fall foliage specimens, so don't make the mistake of leaving your spring yard without one of these beauties. Consider fragrant picks, as well, when making your plant selections.
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When you hear "apple trees," you naturally enough think "apples." But don't be fooled by their fruit into thinking that apple trees (Malus domestica) can't be highly ornamental, too. Sometimes, we're just fortunate enough to enjoy a two-for-one deal. Apple trees are great flowering trees for spring. Cortland is a classic variety; grow it in zones 3 to 8 and give it full sun.
Nor do you need a large landscape to grow apple trees: They can be espaliered to fit into the smallest of yards. Dwarf types are best for creating an espalier. An example is Goldrush (Malus domestica 'Goldrush'), which bears yellow apples. It is suited to zones 5 to 9 and likes full sun.Continue to 2 of 13 below.
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Ornamental Cherry Trees
Unlike apple trees, the popular ornamental cherry trees are grown primarily for their flowers. If you want a tree that produces edible cherries, plant a sweet-cherry tree (Prunus avium) such as the Bing cherry.
Among the most popular ornamental cherry trees are the weeping Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula'), the Yoshino cherry (Prunus x yedoensis), and the Kwanzan cherry (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan'). All can be grown in zones 4 to 8 and want full sun. Many gardeners prefer upright forms such as Kwanzan over weeping forms such as Higan because the latter are grafted, which can invite disease problems.Continue to 3 of 13 below.
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Cherries aren't the only fruit trees with ornamental cousins. Crabapples (Malus spp.) are a popular choice for a flowering tree. They commonly have red, pink, or white blossoms.
The 'Purple Prince' cultivar (full to partial sun, zones 3 to 9) offers purple leaves, as well as pretty flowers and those wonderful crabapple fruits that the wild birds so love. The Sargent crabapple (M. sargentii) is a long-time favorite. Grow it in full sun in zones 4 to 8. Some crabapples have a weeping form, such as ‘Red Jade’ (full sun, zones 4 to 8).Continue to 4 of 13 below.
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Dawn Japanese Apricot Trees
Related to the ornamental cherry trees are the ornamental apricot trees, such as the Dawn Japanese apricot tree (Prunus mume 'Dawn'). It is an underappreciated selection for a flowering tree. But it is understandable that some gardeners will prefer to grow a tree that will give them edible apricots in addition to nice flowers: Prunus armeniaca, which is suited to zones 4 to 8.
Grow Dawn Japanese apricot in zones 6 to 9 in full sun. Since it has white flowers, a great place to plant a Dawn Japanese apricot tree is where it will have a dark background, such as a brick wall.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Callery Pear Trees
With their weak limbs, Bradford pear trees (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') are short-lived. And because they're short-lived, Bradford pear trees don't come highly recommended by the pros (despite their popularity with the public). But that doesn't mean Bradford pear trees don't have their good points. Fortunately, you can substitute a better cultivar from the species and get all of those good points without having to put up with the bad points. 'Aristocrat' is an example (zones 5 to 9, full sun).Continue to 6 of 13 below.
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Hawthorn trees (Crataegus spp.) are members of the rose family. They are closely related to apple trees. One well-known traditional use of hawthorns is as a hedge because of their thorns. But the lovely spring flowers (followed by berries) of hawthorn trees qualify them as specimens, too.
There are a number of types. Crataegus laevigata is the English hawthorn (zones 4 to 7, full sun).Continue to 7 of 13 below.
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Catalpa trees have surprisingly gorgeous flowers when viewed close up. But don't plant them in the front yard: They are messy specimens. In autumn, they drop not only large leaves (which are very unattractive at this time, since they turn black after a frost) but also large, beans-like seed pods.
The two main types are similar in appearance: the northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa, zones 4 to 8, full sun to partial shade) and the southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides, zones 5 to 9, full sun to partial shade).
The trees are massive (as much as 70 feet tall with a spread of up to 50 feet, although they more commonly reach a height of 40 feet with a width of 20 feet), so they have the potential to drop their refuse in great quantities. Having one in your front yard could thus entail significant raking in the fall. Potentially adding to their messiness is the fact that the branches are weak, making them prone to damage from winds, heavy snowfalls, ice storms, etc.
If you like the look of the tree in summer but want to avoid the mess, try one of the smaller types:
Continue to 8 of 13 below.
- C. bignonioides 'Nana'
- C. bignonioides 'Aurea Nana'
- C. bungei
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Albizia julibrissin tree is a fast grower, with leaves resembling ferns and blossoms that live up to the tree's common name, "silk tree."
Silk trees bear exquisite, fragrant flowers that bloom all summer. Considering all the fine qualities of silk trees, you may well wonder if they are too good to be true. The answer, unfortunately, may well be yes—depending on where you live.
Silk trees also commonly called "mimosa" or "silky acacia," are native to Asia. In some portions of the U.S., they are considered invasive plants. Silk trees have escaped into the wild in parts of the southern U.S. and made pests of themselves. Consequently, like Bradford pear trees (albeit for different reasons), silk trees are not necessarily desirable specimens for the landscape. But some gardeners overlook their faults so that they can enjoy their beauty.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Golden Chain Trees
Golden chain trees (Laburnum spp.) aren't as widely planted as are many of the other examples of flowering trees. This observation seems at odds with the beauty of golden chain trees. If there is a justification for not growing this tree, it is that it is fussy to grow. It doesn't like overly hot summers at all.Continue to 10 of 13 below.
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Saucer Magnolia Trees
Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) trees put out fragrant, pinkish-white blooms, which arrive in spring and precede the foliage. The flowers of saucer magnolia trees are large (up to 10 inches)—thus the plant's common name. Suited to zones 4 to 9, these plants want full sun to partial shade.Continue to 11 of 13 below.
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If you live in eastern North America and wish to "go native," serviceberry trees (zones 4 to 8, full sun to partial shade) are among your options for flowering trees.
Serviceberry trees are early bloomers (late March/early April). Some types of serviceberry include:
- Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
- Snowcloud Allegheny (Amelanchier laevis 'Snowcloud')
- Canada serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
Serviceberry trees also go by the common names of "shadbush," "shadblow," and "shadberry." These names derive from the fact that serviceberry trees bloom at the same time as the shad (a fish) spawn.Continue to 12 of 13 below.
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Eastern Redbud Trees
Despite the "red" in the name of these flowering specimens, Eastern redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) bear a pinkish-purple bloom. As Eastern redbud trees come into bloom in the spring, their bare limbs appear to "fuzz up." It is at this time of year that Eastern redbud trees earn their billing as one of the landscape's most graceful flowering trees. Grow them in zones 4 to 8 in full sun to partial shade.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Japanese dogwoods (Cornus kousa) and their Cornus florida relatives are both attractive flowering trees for spring, with knockout fall foliage, to boot. 'Wolf Eyes' is a popular cultivar of Cornus kousa due to its variegated leaves. Grow it in zones 5 to 8 and in partial shade.
One difference between the American native, Cornus florida, and the Japanese Kousa dogwoods is in their berries. Japanese dogwoods bear a larger, strawberry-like berry. But both bear a bloom cluster ringed by four bracts.