Imagine looking outside your window and seeing a sea of color. Or, viewing a stunning flowering tree (maybe even fragrant) as you walk up to the front of your home. The scenario, whether it’s an impactful flowering tree growing in a container on the patio, or one planted in the garden, can be both awesome and breathtaking.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of flowering trees! For some trees we’ve added to additional posts going deeper into this type of tree. Eventually the goal is to have all of these trees with more photos, info and best varieties. For now, here we go!
It includes 9-excellent small scale choices (up to 30 feet tall) that are a nice size for smaller gardens and spaces. They’re also popular in the trade, so they’ll be easy for you to locate and purchase.
Also, you’ll find basic information like: how to grow & bloom time. Plus, the all important plant hardiness, which tells you which flowering trees are a good fit for your climate. Common names and botanical names are listed, as well as some wonderful varieties you may like. 🙂
So let’s get started…
About Tree Size and Form
Gardening professionally in San Francisco for 25 years, I will tell you that one of the mistakes often made – and it causes lots of headache, issues, wasted money and resources – is planting a tree that ultimately outgrow their space.
It’s much smarter to plan ahead and design with the right size tree from the beginning!
Scale matters…especially in small urban and suburban gardens, where outdoor space is at a premium.
What about form? As much as height varies so does spread. Spread is how wide the tree will grow at maturity, and most tree books will give you the mature data based on how the tree grows in its natural setting.
So, in adapted situation like our gardens, the ultimate growth is usually a bit less than what mother nature serves.
- When you think of form, think of growth habit. Trees have growth habits/forms such as:
The flowering tree list below includes a few varieties with forms you may like, such as: the weeping Flowering Cherry – Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’ or the weeping Flowering Crabapple – Malus x purpurea ‘Red Jade.’
Flowering Trees Top 9 List (no particular order)
- 1. Magnolia
- 2. Flowering Cherry
- 3. Dogwood
- 4. Hawthorn
- 5. Crab Apple
- 6. Lilac
- 7. Redbud
- 8. Stuartia
- 9. Snowbell
Magnolia – Magnolia
Recommended Trees: Magnolia x soulangiana and Magnolia stellata
Flowering Notes: See specific species below
Bloom Time: Spring
Magnolia x soulangiana – (Saucer Magnolia) Zone 5. Height 25 feet. – learn more or buy now on Amazon There are also good Saucer Magnolias available on Etsy
Notes: Deciduous. Flowers before the leaves. Saucer magnolias are amazing and one of my absolute favorites. And, one of the reasons that I love this tree so much is that feels like a rendered down size from larger magnolias like Magnolia campbellii. For the deepest colored flowers consider Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Lennei’ or Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Rubra’, large 6-inch saucer flowers are a very deep rosey purple outside and white within. Flowers are gorgeous. For white, large fragrant flowers try Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Alba.’
Magnolia stellata – (Star Magnolia) Zone 5. Height – 20 feet. – buy now on Amazon
Notes: Deciduous. This rounded head tree is dense and often has a shrubby habit with several stems. The flowers are white, double, star shaped and fragrant. Fully opened blossoms are large, up to 5 inches in diameter. Flowers appear as the solo act. Leaves after. Fall color is better than other Magnolias, becoming yellow or bronze.
Dogwood – Cornus
Recommended Trees: Cornus florida & Cornus capitata
Flowering Notes: Selection includes white, pinkish and rose colored flowers. Of interest: what most people think of as dogwood flowers are actually colorful bracts. The flowers themselves are inconspicuous and clustered tightly into a central ball, surrounded by large and showy bracts. (botanically speaking- modified leaves). Growing conditions: Generally understory trees in nature, so part shade. Tend to like well drained, non alkaline soil.
Bloom Time: Spring, early summer
Cornus florida – (Flowering Dogwood) Zone 5. Height 15-25 feet. – buy now on Amazon
Notes: Deciduous. There are lots of varieties of this tree to consider. If you want a pink or rose flowered variety, check out: Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’ or Cornus florida rubra. For white flowers consider, Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess.’ In general, this dogwood is one of the most popular of flowering trees. However, it is susceptible to anthracnose, a fungal infection and it’s branching habit- which is amazing- is tiered and horizontal will take up a lot of space.
Cornus capitata – Evergreen dogwood. Hardy to 15 degrees or less. Height – up to 30 feet occasionally more.
Notes: Evergreen in some climates. Cream color to pale yellow bracts. Up to 4 inches across.
Redbud – Cercis ↑
Recommended Trees: Cercis canadensis / Cercis occidentalis/ Cercis chinensis
Flowering Notes: White and purple red varieties
Bloom Time: Spring
Cercis canadensis– (Eastern Redbud) Zone 4. Height – 30 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. Besides having lovely heart shaped leaves, as all Redbuds do, you will enjoy an amazing show of flower color in spring, generally with no leaves present at the time of flowering. For white flowers, consider Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’. For reddish purple flowers, consider either Cercis canadensis or Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy.’ If you are looking for purple foliage, go with ‘Forest Pansy,’ it’s wonderful!
Cercis occidentalis- Western Redbud/ California Redbud
Cercis chinensis – Chinese Redbud. Zone 5. Height – about 20 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. Slightly less hardy than Cercis canadensis. Has bright pink flowers.
Flowering Cherry – Prunus
Recommended Trees: Prunus serrulata & Prunus subhirtella
Flowinging Notes: White, light pink, deep pink. single, double, and semi-double flowers – learn more or buy now on Amazon
Bloom Time: Spring
Prunus serrulata – (Oriental Cherry) Zone 6. Height – 30 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. In general Prunus serrulata is a wide spreading tree. Prunus serrulata has white single flowers. For a more narrow tree, consider Prunus serrulata ‘Amanogawa.’ This upright or “fastigiate” variety has light pink, semi-double flowers and reaches around 20 feet. Another nice white choice is Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae,’ common name is Mt. Fuji Cherry. Has double white flowers.
Prunus subhirtella – (Higan cherry) Zone 6 to part of Zone 5. Height – 25-30 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. If you want light pink single flowers look towards Prunus subhirtella. They are 1.5 inches in diameter and are extremely profuse showing off before the leaves reappear. If you have a large area for the horizontal canopy of a wonderful weeping variety, try Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula.’ This tree, common name, Japanese Weeping Cherry, can grow out as wide as its 25 foot height. Single, mauvish-pink flowers appear before leafing out.
Hawthorn – Crataegus
Recommended Trees: Crataegus ‘Autumn Glory’
Flowering Notes: Large clusters of white flower blooms
Bloom Time: Spring
Crataegus ‘Autumn Glory’ – Zone 5. Height 15 to 18 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. Not only will you get lots of nice clusters of white bloom. In Autumn, beautiful clusters of brilliant red berries showcase – and often last on this lovely tree well into winter. For rose pink flowers take a look at Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ or Paul’s Scarlet English Hawthorn.
Crab Apple – Malus
Recommended Trees: Malus x purpurea ‘Red Jade & Malus ‘Hopa’
Flowering Notes: Dark red and pink – buy now on Amazon
Bloom Time: Spring
Malus ‘Hopa’ –
Notes: Deciduous. Dark red flowers fade to pink. In fall, lots of bright red fruit.
Malus x purpurea ‘Red Jade’ – Zone 4-9. Height 10-12 feet, spread 10-12 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. This is a dependable weeping variety introduced by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. It has single white flowers. Later, bright ruby red persistent fruit will fully cover the arching branches. You can plant this tree as a specimen plant. Foliage is glossy green.
Lilac – Syringa
Recommended Trees: Syringa vulgaris – buy now on Amazon
Flowering Notes: Fragrant. Elegant floral spires appear in deep purple, mauve, purple red, lavender and white.
Bloom Time: Spring
Syringa vulgaris – (Common Lilac) Zone 8. Height – Up to 20 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. Many of the varieties have double flowers. For single and double white flowers, (in that order) consider Syringa vulgaris ‘Vestale’ and Syringa vulgaris ‘Madame Lemoine.’ This tree and cultivars are happy in most soils, including chalk. Full sun is best for flowering. Will tolerate part shade.
Uses: Specimen or mixed in with other perennials and shrubs.
Stuartia – Stewartia
Recommended Trees: Stewartia pseudocamellia & Stewartia sinensis – buy now on Amazon
Flowering Notes: White flowers that resemble single Camellia flowers
Bloom Time: Late spring, summer
Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese stewartia) Zone 5. Up to 30 feet.
Stewartia sinensis (Chinese stewartia) Zone 5 to 8. Height 15-20 feet.
Snowbell – Styrax
Recommended Trees: Styrax japonicum & Styrax obassia – buy now on Amazon
Flowering Notes: White flowers
Bloom Time: Summer
Styrax japonicum – (Japanese snowbell) Zone 5. Height 10-30 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. This wonderful flowering tree has ¾” diameter bells which appear, hanging gracefully from the underside of the branches. This also makes it very appealing to view from below, looking up into its canopy. However, the tiered horizontal branching structure of this tree means you need to have lots of space. Width can be two-times the height when mature. This tree enjoys light slightly acidic soil and prefers full sun. Light shade should be okay.
Styrax obassia – (Fragrant snowbell) Zone 6 to part of Zone 5; Height 10-30 feet.
Notes: Deciduous. This species is more upright and less spreading than Styrax japonicus. Wonderful consideration if you have a more narrow space. White flowers aren’t as noticeable or conspicuous. Blooms are fragrant and grow upright in clusters.