17 Types of Flowering Trees for Home Landscaping

17 Great Trees, and 1 to Avoid

Branch of sand cherry in bloom.
Sand cherry. Nancy Nehring/Getty Images

Flowering trees are among the most prized specimens of the yard, making a bold statement and often heralding the return of warmer weather in northern climates. Any tree serves to help form the "backbone" of the landscape, but flowering trees add pizazz to a yard in a way that few other plants can match. These 17 flowering trees (with one exception) are among the most beautiful and popular; choose one or more for your garden.

Warning: Toxic Plants

Two plants in this list, the Oleander and the Red Chestnut, are toxic. These should not be grown near children or pets.

  • 01 of 17

    Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

    Star Magnolia Trees

    Leoleobobeo/Pixabay

    Star magnolia tree, native to Japan, is one of the first trees to bloom in spring. Its white flowers open before its own leaves have appeared at a time when most other trees are just starting to bud. The star magnolia is smaller than the saucer magnolias, reaching a height of 15 to 20 feet with a similar spread. But although shorter, star magnolia tree makes up for it by beating its taller relative into bloom. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Dense clay soil
  • 02 of 17

    Jane Magnolia (cross between M. liliiflora ''Reflorescens' and M. stellata 'Waterlily')

    Jane magnolia

    Ron Evans/Getty Images

    Like star magnolia, "Jane" magnolia is a relatively small tree. In maturity, it grows to about 10 to 15 feet in height with a spread of 10 feet. The flowers are typically reddish-purple with white interiors. This tree is notable for having a good tolerance for urban pollution. Jane blooms in April and May, two to four weeks later than star magnolia. Like its cousin, Jane sets its flowers before the leaves appear.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Reddish-purple with white interiors
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, neutral to slightly acidic soil
  • 03 of 17

    Ivory Chalice Magnolia (a cross between M. acuminata and M. denudata)

    Ivory Chalice Magnolia

     

    nickkurzenko / Getty Images 

    "Ivory Chalice" magnolia produces huge white chalice-shaped flowers in very early spring or late winter. This is a fairly large magnolia, with a mature height of 30 to 40 feet with a similar spread, though it can be kept pruned to maintain the appearance of a large shrub.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil
  • 04 of 17

    Heaven Scent Magnolia (cross between magnolia liliiflora and magnolia veitchii)

    Heaven Scent Magnolia

    Herbert Kehrer/Getty Images

    As the name suggests, Heaven Scent Magnolia receives its name from its fragrant flowers, which are pink at the base, tapering off to lighter pink at the tips. Heaven Scent Magnolia trees reach an average height at maturity of about 20 feet tall, although they can grow larger. Like most magnolias, this tree will attract birds and bees.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink to pale pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Light, well-drained, acidic soil
    Continue to 5 of 17 below.
  • 05 of 17

    Oleander (Nerium oleander)

    Oleander flowers

    Safronova Alexandra/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Oleander is a plant variously thought of as a small tree or tall shrub, reaching 20 feet in height. This small flowering tree is a broadleaf evergreen that produces white or deep pink blossoms. It blooms periodically through the season, though most heavily in May and June. These are poisonous plants, so be wary of planting them where children or pets can get at them. The toxicity, though, makes them immune to deer. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Pink or white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Any type of soil with neutral pH
  • 06 of 17

    Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

    Red bird of paradise in bloom.

    Pierre-Yves Babelon/Getty Images 

    The red bird of paradise is another broadleaf evergreen, this one producing orange/red flowers repeatedly through the season. Like oleander, this is a tall shrub that can grow as large as 20 feet with a spread of 6 to 12 feet. Do not confuse red bird of paradise tree with Strelitzia, the better-known bird of paradise flower. Red paradise plants thrive in dry conditions and, once established, are reliable drought-resistant plants. Like oleander, this is a toxic plant, especially the seeds. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Orange to red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: well-drained soil enriched with compost or manure 
  • 07 of 17

    Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana or Hamamelis vernalis)

    Witch hazel

    birgitroehrs/Pixabay

    Also available in shrub form, some witch hazels are early spring bloomers, while others bloom in the fall. They are often grown for shrubby borders, tall hedges, or screening plants. In North America, you will commonly find two types of witch hazel: Hamamelis virginiana, which grows to 20 feet and Hamamelis vernalis, a shorter plant that grows to 10 or 15 feet. Hamamelis virginiana blooms from October to December. Hamamelis vernalis blooms in late winter and early spring (vernal means spring).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow with reddish centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun (filtered sun in hot climates)
    • Soil Needs: Any type of amended soil including clay
  • 08 of 17

    Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry (Prunus × cistena)

    Branch of sand cherry in bloom.
    Nancy Nehring/Getty Images

    Purple-leaf sand cherry can be trained as a tree or left to grow naturally as a shrub, eventually attaining a height of 7 to 14 feet. This ornamental cherry tree produces white or light pink blooms in April. An added bonus with this flowering tree is its striking summer-long purple leaves. Its best season is spring, when it is in bloom and when its leaves are reddish-purple. But that red color re-enters its leaves in fall, making autumn its second-best season.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White or light pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Any type of well-drained soil
    Continue to 9 of 17 below.
  • 09 of 17

    Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

    Rose of sharon

    Denise Erickson / Getty Images

    Rose of Sharon is thought of by many homeowners as being a small flowering tree, though it is usually classified as a large flowering shrub. When grown as a small tree, it tops out at about 12 feet with a spread of about 10 feet. It is a long bloomer from June until October. Plant this flowering tree as a complement to those that bloom in spring and early summer. Rose of Sharon is most often used in hedges and foundations plantings or grouped in mass in shrub borders.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Lavender, red, white, bluish, or pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Any type of soil mixed with organic fertilizer
  • 10 of 17

    Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria)

    Smoke tree

    seven75 / Getty Images

    Smoke tree is also referred to as "smoke bush," because this specimen can be either a large shrub or a small tree; at any size it produces a "smoking" display when it blooms, producing clusters of flowers that have a fuzzy appearance. The smoke tree attains a height of 10 to 15 feet with a spread of 12 feet. Since this is one of the shrubs that flower on new wood, prune it in late winter to early spring.

    This is an unusual, even eccentric-looking plant that works best in informal landscape designs where a unique screening plant is desired.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple to pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Prefers infertile loam, but tolerates all soils except wet, poorly drained soils
  • 11 of 17

    Wolf Eyes (Cornus kousa)

    Kousa dogwood wolf eyes

    Laszlo Podor/Getty Images

    One type of flowering tree you cannot go wrong with is Wolf Eyes, a variety of Kousa dogwood. This plant flowers in late spring to early summer for a period as long as 6 weeks. But the fact that it is a vigorously flowering tree is only one reason to grow Wolf Eyes. An attractive red berry succeeds the blossoms. Moreover, the foliage is variegated. In autumn, the leaves develop streaks ranging in color from pink to red. Wolf Eyes is a small dogwood, growing to only about 10 feet in height.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, acidic soil
  • 12 of 17

    Red Chestnut (Aesculus x carnea)

    Red Chestnut Tree

    ​Dorena/Pixabay

    While American chestnut trees produce famed edible nuts, horse chestnut trees, including the red chestnut, are grown mainly for their looks. The red-flowering kind (Aesculus x carnea) is especially attractive. It is a hybrid between the common horse chestnut and the red buckeye tree, and it produces red flowers in May. Red horse chestnut trees reach a mature height of 35 to 40 feet; its nuts are not edible as they are poisonous.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Red
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Acid, moist, well-drained soil
    Continue to 13 of 17 below.
  • 13 of 17

    Horsechestnut Tree (Aesculus hippocastanum)

    Horsechestnut tree

    OlyaSolodenko / Getty Images

    Although not as attractive as the red horse chestnut, the more common white-flowered kind does make a good shade tree. Horsechestnut grows taller than the red-flowering type, reaching 60 feet tall or more in height at maturity. It blooms in May with white flowers that have red or yellow markings. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: white flowers with red or yellow markings
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
  • 14 of 17

    Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)

    Mountain ash tree

    BanDrew1 / Getty Images

    Mountain ash trees are perhaps best known for their orangy-red berry clusters. But this tree also offers attractive flat-topped white flower clusters in spring. Mountain ash can reach a mature height of 30 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 6
    • Color Varieties: orangy-red
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained, acidic soil
  • 15 of 17

    Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

    Tulip tree flower

    Herman Bresser/Getty Images

    The tulip tree is related to the magnolia. In May and June, tulip tree produces yellow blooms with orange bands at the bases. It is a large tree, growing to 60 to 90 feet tall when mature, with a spread of 30 to 50 feet. It requires a large space to grow. Its large leaves make it a good shade tree in addition to the merits of its blooms. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 6
    • Color Varieties: orangy-red
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained, acidic soil
  • 16 of 17

    Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

    Southern Magnolia seed pod
    David Ohmer / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    Southern magnolia trees (Magnolia grandiflora) are emblematic of the southeastern United States. When you think of the beauty of this classic specimen, you normally think of its large white flowers and evergreen leaves, but this variety also offers reddish seed pods that are also quite attractive.  It is a large specimen, growing 60 to 80 feet in height with a spread of 30 to 50 feet. Flowers appear in May and June and are followed by the seed clusters. Like many magnolias, this tree has a good tolerance for polluted urban conditions.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Acidic, loamy, sandy, well-drained and clay soils
    Continue to 17 of 17 below.
  • 17 of 17

    Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

    Tree of heaven

    vili45 / Getty Images

    This tree comes with a warning. The tree of heaven may be beautiful, but it is an invasive plant native to the Far East. This is one to avoid at all costs. Tree of heaven will tolerate just about any conditions, which is why it thrives so well, even where it is not wanted. This is one tree that deserves to be labeled as a weed.  

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellowish green to reddish
    • Sun Exposure: Any
    • Soil Needs: Any

Tips

Most of the trees on this list require either full or partial sun, and many grow well in only a few locations. Before settling on a tree, be sure you have the appropriate location available, and check that your choice of tree will thrive in your region.