Flowering (Trees)

Natural shapes of Flowering Trees

Flowering trees play an important role in a garden design, providing bursts of spring color long before the rest of the garden is awake. They allow the beholder to enjoy their lovely blooms and sweet fragrance without having to be at ground level. And once all the blooms are finished, their brilliant floral display gives way to interesting leaf shapes, colorful berries, and vibrant fall color. Flowering trees are also a long-lasting investment. By practicing a little care and common sense, you will be rewarded with a seasonal show of color year after year.

Natural shapes of Flowering Trees:

Weeping - A weeping tree is where the growth habit makes branches or leaves droop downward, creating an elegant profile. The growth habit of these trees is usually a result of a mutation and will not come true to form from seeds. Most of these trees are grafted.

Upright/Standard – Standard or upright trees can be grown on their own roots; but usually they are grafted onto a different rootstock. Either method shouldn’t stunt the tree from reaching the mature height for its species.

Albizia julibrissin (Mimosa Tree)

The Persian Silk tree a colorful landscape tree, noted for its fern leaf leaves and deep, rosy-pink, fluffy summer flowers. Quickly reaches 30 ft. tall and wide. This tree creates an exotic canopy of dappled shade as a multi trunk tree; it loves subtropical, tropical climates and hot, humid climates. Leaves turn yellow in the fall.


Catalpa is a medium to large, deciduous tree that typically grows 40-70’ tall with an irregular, open to narrow oval canopy. Broad oblong leaves (12” long) are pointed at the tips and rounded to cordate at the bases. Leaves are light green to yellow green; foliage turns a golden yellow in Fall. Orchid like flowers on panicles (2” long) are white with purple and yellow spotted throat begin to appear in late spring. Flowers give way to long slender green seedpods (12-22” long). The seedpods mature in fall to dark brown which bare the resemblance of a thin cigars; giving the Catalpa it’s common name of cigar tree. Bark of mature trees is cracked with prominently pale grayish brown ridged.

Chionanthus retusus (Chinese fringe tree)

An Asian native commonly known as a Chinese fringetree; with the native U.S. species (C. virginicus), is noted for its profuse spring bloom of mildly fragrant white or flowers. Clusters (about 4” long) of pure white “fringe” like petals flower in late spring to early summer.  Plants are primarily dioecious, meaning there are male and female plants. Male flowers are a little more showy than female flowered plants. If a female plant is pollinized, they will have clusters of dark blue to black olive-like fruits (each to 1/2” long) that ripen in late summer/fall. Fringe trees are most often seen as a large, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub growing from 10-20’ tall with a broad, round form. It also may be grown as a small tree. Leaves are bright green on top and whitish green with a downy feel below. Leaves on young plants have serrated margins. Fall color is yellow to orange; and their bark is an attractive rough gray-brown so there is always interest in the winter.

Cercis (Eastern Redbud)

Eastern redbuds are small deciduous trees; that typically grow 20 feet tall and wide with gracefully ascending branches that has a rounded shape. They can be multi trunked or single trunked trees. In the spring the branches are covered in small sweet pea like, pink to reddish purple flowers. After the flowers are spent; long green snap pea like pods form. Following the springtime flowers, Eastern redbuds heart-shaped Leaves emerge reddish, most turn green as they expand some stay a brilliant burgundy.  

Cornus (Dogwood)

Flowering dogwoods are deciduous, multi-branched shrub or small tree; characterized by a rounded canopy and horizontal branches that spread wider than its height (15 to 30 ft tall). Leaves are oblong that comes to a point, foliage turns red-orange to purple in Fall. The center of the flower is a small yellow cluster that is surrounded by 4 large white (pink or red) bracts. Each bract has a rounded notch on the outer edge. Flowers appear between March and June, with or before the leaves, and persist for 2 to 4 weeks. The fruit is yellow to red, berrylike pods that contain one to two cream-colored seeds (fruits ripen in September and October). The bark on mature trees have and alligator effect because it is broken into small square blocks.

Crataegus (Hawthorn)

Hawthorns are attractive deciduous trees that consists of hundreds of varieties. Although most mature hawthorns grow to heights of 15- 30 ft, some varieties can be used as shrubs; while other ones can reach heights of 45 ft.  A Hawthorn is distinguished by its sharp, woody thorns and dark green serrated leaves. The tree is covered with clusters of flowers of pink or white (depending on the variety) in mid-spring. Following the flowers is a small, red or less commonly yellow apple-like fruit, often called thorn apples or haws, ripen in autumn. Crataegus aestivalis, the eastern mayhaw, and C. opaca, the western mayhaw fruits are commonly used for jellies in the south. Fall colors are usually yellow but there are some varieties turn brilliant a shade of orange-bronze in autumn.

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)

Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly called a tulip tree which is named for its tulip like flowers; is a large deciduous tree that typically grows 60-90' (has been found to get 150’) tall with a broad conical habit. Trunks of mature trees can reach upwards of 4-6’ in diameter, with the canopy starting 10-15 above the ground. Distinctive four lobed brilliant green leaves (up to 8” across) emerge in the spring and turn golden in fall. Flowers are yellow with a band of orange on the base of each petal; flowers are 2” in length, it’s not uncommon that the flowers go unnoticed on large trees because their leaves are fully developed by the time they bloom. Flowers are followed by scaly, dry, cone-shaped brown fruits, each with numerous winged seeds.

Malus (Flowering Crab Apple)

There are approximately 1000 different flowering apple, of which only about 100 are commonly planted. These trees vary in mature size, growth habit, flower color, and the size/color of fruit. Crabapple blossoms appear in April to May, depending on variety and elevation. Some crabapple varieties bloom relatively early, others bloom mid- season and some bloom towards the end of crabapple season. The length of the blossoming period can range from 1 to 2 weeks, all of this depends on the variety and weather conditions. Crabapple flower buds are attractive even before they open, developing color even before they fully open. Some varieties of crabapple have showy fall leaf color, ranging from yellow, orange, red and/or purple. Crabapple twig and bark color ranges from green to yellow to reddish brown when young.  Many crabapples develop attractive mottled bark as they mature.


Magnolia grandiflora –

Magnolia grandiflora are broadleaf evergreen trees that are prized for their attractive glossy, dark green leaves (with pale green to grayish brown underneath) with extremely large fragrant flowers. The most commonly grown Magnolia grandifloras grow in between 60-80’ tall with either a pyramidal canopy or a rounded crown. The fragrant white flowers (to 8-12” diameter) usually have six petals, they bloom in late spring and continue to sparsely flower throughout the summer. Spherical cone-like fruiting clusters (to 3-5” long) remain on the tree until they mature in late summer to early fall, releasing individual red coated seeds.

Magnolia (spp.) –

Deciduous Magnolias consists of many different species (trees forms and shrubs) in addition to numerous hybrids and cultivars. Most plants feature showy, sometimes fragrant flowers (most commonly white, yellow, pink or purple) which bloom in early spring, large simple leaves emerge in late spring to summer. Most deciduous Magnolias get about 25 – 40 ft tall and about 15-20ft wide.

Oxydendrum arboretum (Sourwood)

Sourwood or “Sorrel Tree” is a deciduous tree that have acidic soil preferences; it typically grows 20-25’ tall with a slender trunk and narrow oblong crown. The gray bark on mature trees is ridged, scaly and fissured. Glossy green leaves are finely toothed (5-8” long) and resemble that of a peach; foliage produces a consistent fall color, typically turning crimson red. The leaves have a sour taste, thus the common name. Waxy, white flowers that are slightly fragrant hang on slender, one-sided terminal panicles that have a Pieris look; blooming in early summer. Flowers are very attractive to bees and Sourwood honey is delicious. Flower stems remains in place as the flowers turn into 5-parted silver-gray, dry seed capsule that ripen in September. The silver capsules have a beautiful contrast against the red fall color, providing interest well into the winter.

Prunus (Flowering Cherry / Plum)

Flowering Cherry -

Flowering cherry trees are extremely versatile and will fit in with numerous garden styles including Asian gardens, Zen gardens, cottage gardens and country gardens. In late March through mid to late April these trees will produce profuse amounts of flowers. The blossoms can change color, when the buds emerge, they are a dark pink, turning a lighter pink when the blossoms open, then eventually turning a pale pink or creamy white. There are some varieties that will display wonderful fall foliage that turns purple, red, and oranges.

Flowering Plum -

Flowering plums are a small to medium-sized ornamental tree native to Asia. Purple-leaved cultivars, such as the popular Thundercloud (Prunus cerasifera), are more common in the home landscape because of its beautiful red leaves and smaller growing habit. These trees grow in full sunlight to partial shade and will tolerate mild coastal conditions. Flowering plums do not do well in a site that gets a lot of wind, as this can be damaging to the leaves and upper branches. Flowering plums are one of the earliest blooming trees that attracts bees with its delicately fragrant pink blossoms, and birds with its small, fleshy red fruits. The fruit is edible


Stewartias are lovely woodland trees that are slow-growing, and gorgeous in all seasons from showing off fresh oblong, dark green foliage (3" long) in spring, white flowers in May-June, brilliant reddish-orange and burgundy leaves in autumn, reddish brown bark in the winter. These trees make wonderful specimen trees or as a backdrop to a woodland garden. Stewartias should not be placed in hot areas and will be happiest with afternoon shade. Most single trunk trees will end up growing 20-40ft tall, multi trunked Stewartias will grow to about 12ft tall.  The white flowers resemble a Camellia (2.5" diameter) with showy orange-yellow anthers appearing in early summer. Stewartia, Camellia and Franklinia are all members of the tea family.

Styrax japonicus (Japanese/ Chinese Snowbell Tree)

Japanese snowbell are deciduous, compact flowering trees with horizontal branching and a rounded crown. They typically grow 20-30’ tall and wide; oval shaped, glossy, medium to dark green leaves (3” long). Fall color is not very interesting but the leaves may occasionally turn yellow or red. It is known best for its weeping clusters of bell-shaped, waxy white flowers with a slight fragrance (each 3/4” in diameter) that bloom from mid-May through June. Flowers give way to olive colored, round seeds that often stay on the tree until late autumn. Gray bark cracks on older branches to show off its orange inner bark which can be quite attractive in winter.