Flowering Trees: Everything you Ever Wanted to Know

Flowering trees are one of the most wonderful signs that spring has arrived, and they make enchanting additions to your yard. You get the best of both worlds when purchasing these trees. Their seasonal fragrance and eye-catching flowers can serve as accent points in your landscape. Also, as an added bonus some flowering trees grow tall and wide enough to act as privacy trees. Flowering trees also provide an alluring appearance that few shade trees can match.

Many flowering trees have exquisite fruits that are edible and attractive to birds and animals. Another wonderful thing about flowering trees is you don’t need many to make your yard alluring. However, whichever flowering trees you choose must be fitting to your landscape.

bigstock_Weeping_Cherry_Tree_1545652Once you decide where flowering trees can be used most effectively in your yard, you should select the right variety for your landscape. It is best to use a relativity small amount of trees in your yard. If you have a smaller residence then you will likely only need 2-3 trees.

Selecting the right tree is very important so take your time and choose carefully since they will be a part of your landscape for many years to come. To assist you in making the right choice, here are a few tips:


Not all flowering trees are equal in beauty. Some trees are more exquisite than others, and not all are valued for their blossoms. This typically depends on how colorful and elegant the blossoms are.

ko_rose_tree_radlerSome feel the flowers on most of the smaller trees are highly valued because of their ornamental qualities. Trees such as these typically frame and shape the garden. Trees like the double knockout rose tree and profusion crabapple will make lovely additions to your yard.

Others feel the best flowering trees are the ones that are not only beautiful, but act as pollinators and provide fruit. When you think beyond the trees that blossom in the spring to those that blossom during summer and early fall, it would appear that flowering trees that act as pollinators are your best choice. These trees will actually provide you with beauty most of the year.

There are additional factors to take into consideration when selecting a flowering tree. Leaf shape, wood appearance, and fall colors are some common factors. You must learn where the flowering trees you are interested in grow best before you begin shopping.

Cold hardiness is a primary concern because you want to choose plants that will withstand the cold temperatures that winter provides in your area.


All plants grow best when planted in their correct growing zone. You will find that winter damage most commonly occurs on plants that are outside of their zone. Knowing your trees “comfort zone” will help you understand if it is likely to survive in your area; this includes surviving extreme temperatures and winter storms.

If you are unfamiliar with which growing zone you are located in click here to see the USDA Hardiness Map.

Size and Form

iStock_000000967941XSmallWhat size tree do you want, and what shape will your tree grow in? This includes the long-term height and appearance of the tree. Flowering trees grow in a variety of shapes and sizes. Choosing the right shaped tree will greatly reduce maintenance cost, compliment your yard, and increase the overall value of your home.

Answer these questions:

• Does your space need a large, medium, or small tree?
• Are there other trees in the area?
• Are there any barriers preventing the future growth? (Ex. building foundations, sidewalks, ground wires, or overhead utility cables).

It is best to match the tree to the site. Know the size and location of your planting site.

You can choose from several combinations of trees based on form and size. Below are examples of tree shapes and trees that fall into their category:

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Flower Colors

southern-magnolia-1_125The desire to gaze upon beautiful bright flowers is probably the reason you’re interested in planting flowering trees. Their exquisite colors and succulent smell can fill your garden and make you the envy of the neighborhood. Every flower color offers a meaningful message to your landscape.

If you had your pick, what color would you want the blooms on your flowering tree to be? Here are a few flower colors and their meanings.

iStock_000007731564XSmallRed Flowers: Red is the color of passion and sends a powerful message of romantic love.

Yellow Flowers: Represents compassion, respect, trust, and friendship. Yellow flowers communicate sympathy and warmth.

Pink Flowers: Combine innocence, sensitivity, and playfulness. They also represent femininity, delicate and gentleness.

White Flowers: These elegant flowers represent purity and innocence. The white blooms can also represent honesty and perfections.

Purple Flowers: Symbolize grace, elegance, and refinement. They also make a strong symbolic romantic expression of love and companionship.

Popular Flowering Trees

Most of the trees listed below are hardy across the US. This means they will go dormant and survive in even some of the lowest temperatures.

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Nothing is more disappointing than witnessing your beloved tree die from a disease. Under poor conditions flowering trees can be attacked by a variety of diseases. Tree diseases are caused by many factors including the trees location, weather conditions, soil conditions, and the overall health of the tree.

If a disease is caught in time it may not have the opportunity to kill the tree. Let’s take a moment to learn about a few common diseases that can affect flowering trees and how to prevent them.

This fungus has an orange powdery appearance. It commonly attacks roses and appears under the leaves and then spreads to the remainder of the plant. This fungus thrives in moist air.

Rust can be very hard to treat. There are some fungicides such as Triforine and Mancozeb that can help. There are also some organic solutions available that will help stop germination. Your best line of defense is proper maintenance of the tree. Good soil drainage and careful watering will help minimize any problems. If your tree does become infected then all of the infected leaves must be removed from the tree, along with any ground vegetation.

Sooty Mold
iStock_000050205406_LargeSooty Mold is a black fungal growth on the surface of leaves and branches caused by pathogenic fungi. The fungus lives on the excrement of aphids; which is commonly known as honey dew excrement. Sooty molds do not actually kill the plants but they are cosmetically unappealing. You will notice them growing on the surface of the tree where the excrement deposits are located.

Anytime sooty mold is present that means at one time there was an aphid population living on the tree. Ants will often protect these honey dew producing insects from predators so they can feed off the excrement. In order to control sooty mold you must start by getting rid of the aphids. Insecticides to prevent ants, aphids, and other insects should be sprayed on the tree. In some cases a strong stream of water can remove aphids off the tree without the use of an insecticide.

Cedar-Apple Rust
This rust is commonly found on Eastern Red Cedar, apple, and crabapple trees. Spring spores that are released from galls on cedar trees infect the leaves of the flowering apple and crabapple trees. This causes yellow spotting on the underside of the leaves of the trees and over time premature leaf drop.

Using disease resistant apple cultivators is best. Apple trees such as the Red Delicious and McIntosh offer excellent resistance to this disease. For non-disease resistant trees you can take preventative measures to protect them such as applying fungicides to your trees during the early spring.

Powdery Mildew
iStock_000046034420_LargeA whitish gray powdery fungus that grows on the leaves of trees. The fungus is more of an aesthetic issue for flowering dogwoods. However, it can reduce shoot growth and the trunk caliper. Powdery mildew has wide host range. It can affect trees like the flowering dogwood and some crape myrtle varieties.

In order to prevent the spread of powdery mildew it’s best to clean up any dead leaves prior to winter. The disease can survive over the winter and infect trees during the growing season. Proper pruning is another preventative measure as it helps to improve air circulation within the crown of the tree.

Dogwood Anthracnose
A fungal disease, which can occur annually on the dogwood tree and can eventually weaken or kill any infected trees. Spot anthracnose is another disease that can also affect dogwood trees. It appears as small red lesions on the flowers and then eventually the leaves.

Management for anthracnose is not typically necessary because it will not cause serious harm to the tree. It is just cosmetically unappealing. To help reduce the spread of this disease we recommend planting trees with wide spacing in between them. Also keep the trees properly pruned and the surrounding area free of debris and vegetation.

Fire Blight
This disease affects apples, and pears. It can cause extensive damage to the tree. On flowering trees the blooms appear grayish green and wilted. They eventually turn brown or black and fall off. This infection also causes the shoots and the leaves to turn black. Sticky bacterial ooze will often come out of the tree during warm weather if the tree is infected.

Prune off any infected plant tissue as soon as you locate them. It is best to prune off 8 inches or more from the infected area. Pruning should be done regularly to help increase air circulation in the tree crown. You can also use bactericides to prevent this disease. Examine your trees 1 to 3 weeks after any warm or wet period during the spring.

Below are some examples of Disease Resistant Flowering Trees:

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Many disease and pest problems can be reduced by good maintenance practices. Cleaning up fallen leaves and fruit around the bases of your trees that can house both fungus spores and insects helps. Also, preventative measures can be taken by spraying your trees individually with fungicides and insecticides. Dormant oils and lime sulfur can be applied to your trees after
freezing weather has passed as another preventive measure.

Professionals can also be brought in to cure or remove your tree if you are unable to get the disease under control. You can also contact your local Agricultural extension to learn about diseases that may be problematic in your area.

If you are unsure of how to contact your local Cooperative Extension Office please visit:

Growing Flowering Trees

Peach Blossoms CloseWhether a flowering tree will survive is dependent upon its environment. The key to successful growth is to provide your trees with conditions they will best thrive in. This includes paying attention to your soil type, water, available sunlight, and the tree’s surroundings.

Flowering trees need fertile soil with good drainage. If you do not have good fertile soil you can help improve it by adding in good soil mix or fertilizer. They also need to be watered regularly.

One of the most important factors of growth for these trees is sunlight. In order for the trees to flower they need direct sunlight. Most flowering trees actually thrive better in areas where there isn’t a lot of shade. Though there are a few varieties that can thrive in partial shade.

Planting Directions for Flowering Trees:

Flowering trees should be planted during the spring or in the early fall at least six weeks prior to your first frost. They should be located in full to partial sunlight and do best if their soil is kept moist but not over saturated.

Carefully consider planting depth before digging the planting hole for your new trees.

sweetbay11. You should make the hole twice as wide, but no deeper than the root ball. Make sure the hole is large enough for the roots to expand.

2. Place the tree in the hole and water the root ball before you begin to backfill the hole with top soil. Refill the hole making sure the root ball is level with or just below the surface.

3. After you plant the trees, use a root-promoting fertilizer to help root expansion. Sprinkle some on the topsoil and water lightly.

4. Add two to three inches of mulch around the trees and water regularly, approximately 1-inch of water per week.

5. Stake the trees for at least one growing season to ensure stability.

plum-1Watering: The amount of water that each flowering tree needs varies. However, usually you will increase the watering schedule in areas where there is a warmer climate, and reduce them during winter or cooler climates.

Fertilizing: To encourage flower production we recommend a fertilizer that contains a small percentage of nitrogen and a higher percentage of phosphorous and potassium. Be careful not to use fertilizers containing a high amount of nitrogen because it may burn the roots.

Pollination: Flowering time for pollinators is usually tied to the same time for fruit growth. Early pollination ensures the trees have more time for the fruit to mature and dispersal prior to winter.

For more information on flowering trees please visit: