Five Best Flowering Trees
Written by: Dottie Baltz
Every yard should have flowering trees to add shade, interest, color and food sources for insects and birds. If you plant trees that bloom at different times, you can have color nearly all year long and with may trees providing spectacular fall colors, well that's just a bonus. Following are some of my favorites.
Redbud - Cercis canadensis
This has to be one of my favorite spring blooming trees. The magenta blooms line the stems so you get a mass of color for about three weeks. Growing to about 25 feet tall, the Redbud tree can fit into nearly any size yard. They are also native to North America and hardy in zones 4-9. You also get an added bonus of bright yellow leaves in autumn.
Flowering Dogwood - Cornus florida
I love dogwoods. There is something about the white four-petal flowers that last for weeks that just get to me some how. And then you get these fantastic red berries that form in fall that thrushes and other birds will eat. With dogwood varieties that bloom early, mid and late spring, you can have blooms for more than a month, maybe two months. Small at 10 feet - 20 feet tall and hardy in zones 5-9, dogwoods prefer to be planted with a fair amount of shade, as they are an understory tree. If you are in zone 5, it is advised to purchase dogwoods that have been bred and grown in colder climates to ensure their hardiness. I grow 'Kousa' which seems to be a little more cold hardy than most.
Flowering Crab Apple - Malus
Hardy in zones 4-7, crab apples are a reliable tree that benefit from the occasional pruning. If you want to attract birds, go with the small fruited varieties. The stunning pink and white flowers put on a spectacular show. Check with your local county extension office to see what grows best in your area as some varieties are susceptible to fire blight and apple scab. Crab apples with also attract beneficial pollinators when in bloom, so they are a must for the avid vegetable gardener who may have trouble with crops being pollinated due to low bee populations. Plant in a sunny area where they can grow to 15 feet to 25 feet tall.
Chaste Tree - Vitex agnnus-castus
There is something to be said for having grey-green foliage in the garden. It's hard to come by, but this tree has that along with spiky lavender flowers that bloom in summer. In the South this tree can grow to 20 feet and blooms in June but grows only half that size in the Pacific-Northwest with blooms in August. Hardy in zones 6-9, I have not had the pleasure of growing this tree, but it has always been on my list of must haves if I ever move to a warmer zone.
Image courtesy of www.organicgardening.com
American Yellowwood - Cladrastis kentukea
Drooping fragrant white flowers remind me of the wisteria, but in a majestic 30'-50' tall tree. It's smooth silvery bark give the beech tree a run for it's money in the beauty department. Blooming in early summer this tree is a bee magnet, however this tree will not bloom until it is 12 feet tall. It also does not bloom well every year, but every second or third year. Still, this tree is so spectacular I would definitely include it in my zone 4-9 yard as the wait is worth it.
Seven-Son Flower - Heptacodium miconioides
A little known tree, native to China this white flowering tree is spectacular in late summer. After it is finished blooming the pinkish red calyxes last for weeks giving the illusion that it is blooming in a different color. Hardy in zones 5-8, this tree grows to 15-20 feet and will grow in shade and sun. It's also drought and salt tolerant and it's exfoliating bark gives it the name "The Crape Myrtle of the North". Because it needs a lot pruning and shaping in it's early years, this tree may be overlooked by many gardeners, but I feel it is definitely one to try if you have the time.