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: their seasonal fragrance and eye-catching flowers 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.

Plus, many flowering trees have exquisite fruit that’s edible and attractive to birds and animals. However, the flowering trees you choose must be fitting to your landscape.

Flowering Trees
Full Blooms on Flowering Trees

And you should select the right variety for your landscape. It’s best to use a relativity small number of trees in your yard. If you have a smaller residence, then you will likely only need two or three trees.

Selecting the right tree is vital, so take your time and choose carefully – especially 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.

Selection

Not all flowering trees are equal. Some trees boast a bolder show than others, and not all are valued for their blossoms. This typically depends on how colorful and elegant the blossoms are.

Rose Tree
Fresh Florals in Bloom

Some flowering trees frame and shape the garden. Trees like the Double Knock Out Tree and Profusion Crabapple will make lovely additions to your yard for this purpose.

Others are looking for flowering trees that are 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 pollinating flowering trees are your best choice. And they’ll provide year-round beauty.

There are additional factors to take into consideration when selecting a flowering tree: leaf shape, wood appearance, and fall colors. Plus, you have to know where your desired flowering trees grow best before you begin shopping.

For example, cold hardiness is a primary concern because you want to choose plants that will withstand the cold temperatures during the winter season.

Zone

All plants grow best when they’re located in the correct growing zone. You will find that winter damage most commonly occurs on plants that are outside of their zone. Knowing your tree’s “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 growing zones, click here to see the USDA Hardiness Map.

Size and Form

Flowering Trees Form
Size and Form

What 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 correctly-shaped tree will greatly reduce maintenance cost, complement your yard, and increase the overall value of your home.

• 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? (i.e. building foundations, sidewalks, ground wires, or overhead utility cables).

It is best to match the tree to the site. So, first and foremost, know the size and location of your planting site.

Flower Colors

Beautiful, bright flowers is one of the main perks when it comes to 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.

Diseases

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.

Rust

This fungus has an orange, powdery appearance. It commonly attacks roses and appears under the leaves, spreading 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, the infected leaves must be removed from the tree, along with any ground vegetation.

Sooty Mold

"<yoastmarkThis type is a black fungal growth on the surface of leaves and branches caused by pathogenic fungi. The fungus lives on the excrement of aphids, commonly known as honey dew excrement. Sooty molds do not actually kill the plants but are cosmetically unappealing.

The presence of sooty mold means that, 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, such as applying fungicides to your trees during the early spring.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew
Powdery Mildew

A whitish-gray powdery fungus that grows on the leaves of trees, this fungus is more of an aesthetic issue for flowering dogwoods. However, it can reduce shoot growth and the trunk caliper. Powdery mildew has a wide host range, affecting 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

This fungal disease can occur annually on the Dogwood Tree and can eventually weaken or kill any infected trees. Spot anthracnose is another disease that can affect dogwoods. It appears as small red lesions on the flowers and eventually the leaves.

Management for anthracnose is not typically necessary because it will not cause serious harm to the tree – it’s simply cosmetically unappealing. To help reduce the spread of this disease, we recommend planting trees with wide spacing. Also, keep your trees properly pruned and their 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 it. 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 one to three weeks after any warm or wet period during the spring.

Overall, many disease and pest problems can be reduced by good maintenance practices. 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. Furthermore, you can contact your local Agricultural Extension to learn about diseases that may be problematic in your area.

 

Growing Flowering Trees

Flowering Trees and Growth
Flowering Trees and Growth

Whether a flowering tree will survive is dependent upon its environment. The key to successful growth is the right conditions, including soil type, water, available sunlight, and the tree’s surroundings.

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

But one of the most important factors for growth 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. However, there are a few varieties that can thrive in partial shade.

Planting

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.

Fresh Blooms
Fresh Blooms

1. 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 2 to 3 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.

Flowering Trees and Care
Flowering Trees and Care

Watering: The amount of water that each flowering tree needs varies. However, 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.

Flowering Trees
Flowering Trees in Vibrancy