Many people use flowering trees as focal points in their yard's landscape. Flowering trees may be evergreen or deciduous and many have fragrant blossoms. Early spring bloomers are an especially nice way to welcome the season. Flowering trees also often attract a wide variety of wildlife, making them a perfect option for the nature lover. Choose varieties that are suitable for your growing region and always follow specific instructions regarding planting and care included with your tree.
Container or Bare Root
Trees can either be purchased as container grown, balled and burlapped (B&B), or bare root. Container grown trees range in size and have the benefit of not having been put through the stress of having been dug up. B&B trees also come in a variety of sizes but can be larger than container-grown trees. They were usually dug from the nursery and then wrapped in burlap. The digging process can damage the roots, however. Bare root trees come with no soil (with their roots "bare") and must be planted while they are dormant. They are usually smaller than container grown and balled and burlapped trees.
Purchased trees come with planting instructions that should be carefully followed. Generally, they should be planted in a hole that is twice as wide, but slightly shallower, than the root ball. This will give the roots space to spread out without having to try to grow through hard soil.
New Tree Care
Mulching at least three feet of space around a newly planted tree is a good idea because it helps the soil stay moist. However, when adding mulch, never allow it to touch the trunk of the tree.
Consider staking the new tree to give it support until its roots are established. Don't stake too tightly, and remember to remove the support wires once the tree is established. Otherwise, they could cut into the trunk and kill the tree.
New trees require regular water through the growing season. If you are unable to water it consistently you can place a tree bag around it which will deliver a steady drip of water without you having to worry about your tree getting enough.
Now that you're ready to plant, here are a dozen of the easiest flowering trees to grow.
1. Ann Magnolia (Magnolia x Ann)
Ann magnolia trees are part of a group of hybrid magnolias that was developed in the 1950s by the U.S. National Arboretum. It blooms in mid to late March, although it will often re-bloom sporadically in the summer. Its tulip-shaped blossoms are a deep purple-red, and its dark green leaves will turn a nice yellow in the fall. It has a moderate growth rate but will only reach heights of about eight to 10 feet with a similar spread. The soil around the tree needs to drain well, but it adapts to most soil types, and needs a full to partial sun exposure. This magnolia grows best in zones three through seven.
2. Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)
This native species produces beautiful clusters of rosy-pink flowers around April. The leaves begin as a reddish purple, then change to dark green, and finally turn yellow in the fall. It will grow about 20 to 30 feet high with a similar spread, preferring full sun or partial shade exposures in zones four through nine. This tree is very easy to grow and will not require much water or attention. This tree is excellent at attracting wildlife such as northern bobwhites, chickadees, and songbirds. Interestingly enough, the Eastern redbud was also a favorite of George Washington and is mentioned several times in his diaries.
3. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida)
Although there are other species of flowering dogwoods, cornus florida has earned the name as the "flowering dogwood tree." It is also called the pink dogwood, the white dogwood, or the red dogwood, depending on the color of flower it produces in the spring. In the fall, its green leaves turn a brilliant reddish-purple. It also produces a red fruit that attracts winter songbirds as well as chipmunks, squirrels, and other wildlife. It does well in exposures from full sun to partial shade and needs a moist, well-drained soil. Flowering dogwoods have a moderate growth rate and will grow about 25 feet tall with a similar spread.
4. Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria Paniculata)
The Goldenraintree is also known as the Chinese flame tree or golden raintree. It produces yellow blooms early in the summer followed by papery hanging capsules that look like tiny Chinese lanterns. This tree has a good resistance to pests and disease and tolerates air pollution and drought. It is fast growing and will reach heights of about 30 to 40 feet with a similar spread. Goldenraintrees should be planted in a full sun exposure and will tolerate a wide variety of soil types; however, they do best in zones five through nine.
5. Jane Magnolia (Magnolia x Jane)
Jane magnolias are another tree that was developed in the fifties by the U.S. National Arboretum. For that reason, they don't blossom until later in the spring, thus avoiding frost damage. Their tulip-shaped blossoms are reddish-purple on the outside and white on the inside. In the fall, its green leaves turn a beautiful copper color. This is a small tree, only growing moderately to heights of 10 to 15 feet with a 10-foot spread, but it is very hardy and adaptable to almost any soil type, although it prefers moist and well-drained soils. It grows best in full to partial sun exposures in zones four through seven.
6. Kousa Dogwood (Cornus Kousa)
The kousa dogwood is also known as the Japanese flowering dogwood. It produces white or pink star-shaped blooms late in the spring, while in the summer, it grows a small red fruit, similar to a raspberry, that is attractive to many species of wildlife. The fruit will remain on the tree even after its leaves have turned purplish-red in the fall. This dogwood is very disease-resistant and enjoys a full sun to partial sun exposure. It can grow to heights of 20 to 30 feet with a similar spread. Japanese Dogwood Trees have low water requirements and will adapt to most soil types. It grows best in zones five through nine.
7. Northern Catalpa (Catalpa Speciosa)
The Northern catalpa tree is also known as the hardy catalpa, Western catalpa, cigar tree, and Catawba-tree. It produces large white flowers in the late spring or early summer. This tree is a fast grower and will reach heights of 40 to 70 feet with a 20 to 40 foot wide spread. Northern catalpas can tolerate tough conditions and will withstand wet, dry, and hot environments. It should be planted in a full sun to partial sun exposure in zones four through nine.
8. Mimosa Tree (Albizzia Julibrissin)
Mimosa trees have a smooth texture that has earned them the secondary name of "silk tree." Every spring, this tree produces clusters of deep pink flowers that attract a wide variety of butterflies and birds. Its fern-like foliage is coated in tiny white hairs that give it a silvery sheen. This tree grows rapidly either as a single-stem or multi-trunk tree, to heights of 20 to 35 feet with a similar spread. They need lots of sun, preferring full sun or partial shade, and they thrive in the drier climates of zones six through nine and are tolerant to droughts. It is capable of surviving the winters of the Southern United States, but flowers better in areas with a long, dry summer.
9. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia Virginiana)
The sweetbay magnolia tree is also known as the swampbay or swamp magnolia. It produces creamy white flowers in the late spring or early summer that have a lemony scent. Plant these trees in moist, acidic soil in full sun to partial sun exposure. It has a moderate to rapid growth rate and will reach a height of about 20 feet or more with a similar spread. This tree attracts a wide variety of wildlife that includes many different types of birds as well. It grows best in zones five through nine.
10. Red Buckeye (Aesculus Pavia)
The red buckeye, also known as the scarlet buckeye, is an early bloomer and begins sprouting its leaves weeks before any other tree. Around April, it begins sprouting deep coral-red flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The best thing about this tree is it will begin blooming when it is only three feet high! Although it is considered a dwarf or even a shrub, it will grow anywhere between 10 to 20 feet with a similar spread. This tree is very adaptable and will grow in any exposure from full sun to full shade. It prefers well-drained acidic soils but will tolerate soils that are more alkaline. For best results, keep it well mulched, especially if planted in sunnier exposures. It should be transplanted in the early spring, and it does best in zones six through nine.
11. Tuliptree (Liriodendron Tulipifera)
The tuliptree, also known as the yellow poplar and the tulip poplar, is a fast growing tree. Within six to eight years, this tree can grow as much as 15 to 20 feet tall. At maturity, it can grow as high as 60 to 100 feet tall, with an oval shape and a spread of 30 to 50 feet. It gets its name from the large greenish-yellow cup-shaped flowers that resemble tulips that blossom every spring. The flowers are followed by a cone-shaped fruit. But these flowers are not the only color this tree will produce. In the fall, its deep green leaves turn a bright gold. It also likes lots of sun and will adapt to almost any soil type. This tree has moderate water requirements and is highly resistant to disease and insects. It is native to the United States and does best in zones four through nine.
12. Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus Phaenopyrum)
The Washington Hawthorn (sometimes spelled Hawthorne) produces white flowers late in the spring. Its leaves, which emerge reddish-purple before turning dark green, turn a brilliant shade of orange, red, or purple in the fall. It also produces a bright red fruit that attracts a variety of wildlife and stays on the tree into the winter. Washington Hawthorns will grow about 25 to 30 feet high with a 20 to 25 foot spread, and they should be planted in a full sun exposure. It does not require much water and has a high tolerance to salt and alkali soils. They grow best in zones four through eight.