11 Great Trees and Shrubs With White Flowers

Huge mound of white-flowering shrub in field.

Barry Winiker / Getty Images 

One of the most glorious sights you can behold is a tree or shrub that has burst into a profusion of white flowers. It brightens up the landscape and signals that spring has finally arrived.

Each of these 11 trees and shrubs has at least one cultivar that will bear white flowers each year. One hint that a flower or shrub cultivar may have white flowers is when the botanical or common names include words like alba, snow, or snowball.

  • 01 of 11

    American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

    American Elderberry Shrub
    bkkm / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil

    The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a large shrub that grows about 10 feet tall with a similar spread, native much of eastern North America. It prefers boggy, wet soil and is ideal for large rain gardens. It is a sprawling shrub that spreads by suckering, and it will require pruning to keep it in control. Lemon-scented white flowers appear in clusters in June and July, which are very attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. Because of its tendency to spread, American elderberry is best planted where clustering is desired.

  • 02 of 11

    White Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia spp)

    White Angel's Trumpet
    Annimei / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun (likes some afternoon shade in warmer regions)
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture soil 

    Angel's trumpet (Brugsmania candida, Brugmansia suaveolens, and other species) are a group of small- to medium-sized shrubs (6 to 20 feet tall, depending on species) with multiple stems and large, fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers. In cold climates, this tropical plant must be grown in containers and brought indoors for winter. It usually blooms from mid-summer to fall, with large, sweet-smelling flowers up to 12 inches long. Angel's trumpet can be used as an accent shrub in warm climates, or as a container plant for decks and patios north of zone 9.

  • 03 of 11

    Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

    Black chokeberry blossoms (Aronia melanocarpa) in the garden.
    gojak / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Any well-drained soil; prefers slightly acidic conditions

    Native to eastern North America, black chokeberry is a smallish, suckering shrub that produces clusters of white, small-petaled flowers in May, followed by berries that ripen to black in fall. Leaves turn an attractive purple/red in fall. It is most often used in group or mass plantings, where its suckering tendency is not a problem. This shrub has a good tolerance for wet conditions. It grows 3 to 6 feet tall, with a spread of up to 10 feet.

  • 04 of 11

    Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia)

    Bridal-Wreath Vanhoutte Spirea and Colorful Azaleas
    Federica Grassi/Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil

    Bridal wreath spirea has a wispy growth habit, with branches that fill with masses of small, double white flowers in early spring just before the leaves sprout. It is ideal as a foundation plant or for border plantings. Many varieties turn an attractive shade of yellow, orange, or gold in fall. This shrub grows to 4 to 8 feet tall with a similar spread, and it's often used for shrub borders, foundation plantings, or as a specimen shrub.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

    Flower or Cephalanthus occidentalis, known also as Button bush.
    AndreaPad77 / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich soil

    Buttonbush, native across much of North America, is a medium- to large-sized shrub (growing 5 to 20 feet) with an open, rounded growth habit. It produces unusual pin-cushion flowers in June that are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. It has a good tolerance for moist and wet soils, making it a good choice for rain gardens and around water features. It is also popular for naturalizing in woodland garden settings.

  • 06 of 11

    Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)

    Carolina Silverbell Blossom
    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Native to the Southeast U.S., the Carolina silverbell is a small- to medium-sized landscape tree that produces small bell-shaped white flowers in April, just before or simultaneously with the leaves sprouting. It typically grows to 30 to 40 feet, but heights of 60 feet are possible in its native habitat (Appalachian woods). Fall foliage is an attractive yellowish-green but drops early. Azaleas and rhododendrons grow well beneath a Carolina silverbell.

  • 07 of 11

    Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)

    Old Man's Beard tree
    Morgan Trimble / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Cream white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil

    Fringe tree is a shrub or small tree native to the Eastern U.S. It typically grows to a height of 12 to 20 feet and produces 4- to 6-inch-long clusters of creamy white flowers with fringe-like petals in May and June. The flowers give way to bluish-black fruits in mid-summer, which attract birds. The spear-shaped leaves turn yellow in fall. Fringe tree prefers moist soils but it tolerates most soil types. This is a low-maintenance tree that has a good tolerance for air pollution and urban environments. Fringe tree is often grown in small groups, or as an individual specimen tree in the lawn.

  • 08 of 11

    Giant Dogwood (Cornus controversa)

    Giant Dogwood In Blossom. Cornus Controversa
    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Cream white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil

    Giant dogwood, as the name suggests, is one of the larger Cornus species, growing 20 to 50 feet tall with a spread of 20 to 40 feet.  Native to Japan and China, it produces flattened clusters of creamy-white flowers in May and June, giving way to bluish-black fruit that ripens in late summer. The fall foliage is not notable. Giant dogwood is normally used as a lawn tree.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Kobus Magnolia (Magnolia kobus)

    KOBUS MAGNOLIA
    photograph / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Cream white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drain loam

    Kobus magnolia is a small tree (or large shrub) that produces its 4-inch cup-shaped white flowers in March, well before the leaves appear. This is a slow-growing plant that is pyramidal in shape when young but grows gradually to a spreading, rounded form, 25 to 30 feet tall.  Seed pods open in fall, and birds are attracted to the seeds as food. The fall foliage is unremarkable. Kobus magnolia is most often grown as a small specimen tree in the lawn, but because it grows slowly, plants are sometimes grouped in screen hedges on large properties.

  • 10 of 11

    Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa)

    A close-up of the five-petal white flower on the natal plum bush, also known as Carissa macrocarpa.
    Andriy Prokopenko / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade (prefers afternoon shade)
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil; tolerates salty conditions

    Natal plum, a warm-climate plant, is the rare flowering shrub that can provide flowers during most of the growing season. It typically grows 2 to 8 feet tall, but occasionally reaches 20 feet. The main bloom season is summer, but flowers and fruit are continually produced. The 2-inch star-like flowers are followed by red plum-shaped fruit that taste like cranberries and can be used in jellies and jams. Dwarf varieties of natal plum are sometimes grown in large pots on decks and patios; larger varieties are used as screens or specimen plants in the landscape. They are favorite plants for seaside areas since natal plums tolerate wind and salty conditions.

  • 11 of 11

    Orange Jasmine (Murraya paniculata)

    Orange jessamine flower blooming in the garden
    Photographer / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained loam

    Orange jasmine is a warm climate-shrub with twisting branches that is also popular as a container plant in cooler climates. It has glossy evergreen leaves and produces fragrant white flowers about 1 inch across several times throughout the year. Small, attractive fruits follow the flowers. In climates where it is hardy, orange jasmine is planted as a hedge or screen, growing 8 to 12 feet tall. Elsewhere, it is planted in large pots and brought indoors during the cold months. Orange jasmine tolerates pruning and can be easily shaped into hedges or trimmed to remain manageable pots.