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Plant Spotlight: Spring Flowering Trees

Updated on May 7, 2015
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer & gardener with an extensive knowledge of plants and plant care. Her articles focus on easy care tips for home gardeners.

Crab Apple 'Spring Snow'
Crab Apple 'Spring Snow' | Source

Incorporating Trees Into Your Landscape

I feel a good landscape design includes not only perennials and annuals, but also trees and shrubs. There are a wide variety of flowering trees available to the home gardener today with different bloom times, fruiting or non-fruiting ability, fall color and/or winter interest.

Before selecting the right tree for your landscape, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much sunlight does the area I want to plant in receive?
  • What type of soil does the site have? If you are not sure, most big box retailers sell soil testing kits.
  • Is the site close to the house or further away? This can determine the mature size of the tree. You don't want something too large close to the house.

Horse Chestnut bloom-A closer look
Horse Chestnut bloom-A closer look | Source

Did You Know?

Horse Chestnut trees can live up to 300 years!

Horse Chestnut Blossoms
Horse Chestnut Blossoms | Source

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus Hippocanstanum)

An extremely large deciduous tree, the Horse Chestnut is great for providing shade. This tree needs to be planted further away from the house either at the back of a yard or it does great in a public park. In spring, it is one of the earlier trees to leaf out and produces yellow, columnar flowers in April and early May, which attract pollinators. In summer, the tree forms spiked "nuts". While not edible by humans or horses because of their toxicity, both squirrels and deer seem unaffected by them and enjoy eating them.


  • Zones 4 to 7
  • Mature Height is 50 to 75 feet
  • Mature Spread is 40 to 70 feet wide
  • Medium Growth Rate
  • Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Adaptable soil needs. Does very well in clay soil.
  • Flowers in Late April/Early May
  • Fall Color is Yellow
  • Self-fertile

Horse Chestnut nuts
Horse Chestnut nuts | Source
Horse Chestnut Tree Early May
Horse Chestnut Tree Early May | Source
Crab Apple Prairie Fire
Crab Apple Prairie Fire | Source

Did You Know?

Crab Apples can be used to provide pollination for Apple trees.

Crab Apples (Malus varieties)

Crab apples are great ornamental trees for the landscape. They are mid-sized, oval or round shaped trees that are disease resistant. Fruiting varieties provide winter interest as well as feed birds and other wildlife. In Spring they put on a spectacular show of blooms, which is why so many people place them in front yards or in spaces you can see them through a window. They bloom April through May and most varieties produce either yellow or orange leaves in the fall.

Some of the best varieties are:

Crab apple Sugar Tyme (Malus Sutyzam)

  • Zones 4 to 7
  • Mature Height is 16 to 18 feet
  • Mature Spread is 12 to 15 feet
  • Full Sun
  • Adaptable soil requirements
  • Medium Growth Rate
  • Fall color is orange

Crab apple Prairie Fire (Malus Prairie Fire)

  • Zones 4 to 9
  • Mature Height 15 to 20 feet
  • Mature Spread 15 to 20 feet
  • Full Sun
  • Adaptable soil requirements
  • Medium Growth Rate
  • Fall color is orange
  • Produces fruit without the need for a pollinator. Fruit is ready in early September.

Spring Snow (Malus Spring Snow)

  • Zones 3 to 7
  • Mature Height 15 to 25 feet
  • Mature Spread 15 to 20 feet
  • Full Sun
  • Adaptable soil requirements
  • Medium-Fast Growth Rate
  • Fall color is Yellow
  • Non-fruiting

Crab Apple Sugar Tyme
Crab Apple Sugar Tyme | Source
Eastern Redbud
Eastern Redbud | Source

Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)

Eastern Redbuds have a nice, graceful bending habit with a vase shape. They are a good specimen tree with lavender colored blooms in April and May. This popular Midwestern tree attracts butterflies and bees, as well as the Bobwhite and Chickadee who enjoy eating the seeds.


  • Zones 4 to 9
  • Mature Height 20 to 30 feet
  • Mature Spread 25 to 35 feet
  • Takes full sun to part shade
  • Adaptable soil requirements
  • Medium Growth Rate
  • Fall color is yellow

Magnolia Verbanica in more of a shrub form
Magnolia Verbanica in more of a shrub form | Source
Magnolia beginning to open
Magnolia beginning to open | Source

Magnolia (Liliiflora Varieties)

Nothing says spring like a Magnolia tree in bloom. Varieties of these trees grow all over the US, South America and Asia. The most common types here in the Midwest are from the Liliiflora genus and those trees hybridized from that genus. These hardy trees bloom from late February through April and are easily trained as a shrub with proper pruning, thus making them well suited for use as a foundation planting near the home. They typically take on a round, oval or pyramidal shape and are frequently used by birds for nesting.


  • Zones 4-9
  • Mature Height ranges from 15 to 30 feet depending on the variety
  • Mature Spread ranges from 10 to 20 feet depending on the variety
  • Full Sun
  • Adaptable soil requirements
  • Medium Growth Rate

Beautiful Spring Blooms

As you can see, there are a variety of trees available for your spring flowering landscape and this is just a small sampling. It is always a welcome sight to see such beautiful blooms after a long, dreary winter. A great way to use it's spring bloom time is to plant spring blooming bulbs underneath. These trees not only put on a show in spring, but also look great in fall as well, giving your garden three seasons of interest. I hope you enjoyed my Hub!

Magnolia Royal Star
Magnolia Royal Star | Source

© 2015 Lisa Roppolo


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    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      We have a young crab apple tree which I love. Unfortunately this is the first year it had massive blooms on it and the weather has been so hot, they are already falling off. We've had a very weird spring. Love the others you've highlighted as well.