Top Picks for Spring Flowering Trees
After a long, chilly winter, there’s nothing that gets gardeners more motivated to plant than the flowers of spring. The first bulbs grace us with their presence in March, followed by a progression of color throughout the entire month of April.
By Jennifer Schamber
(This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener April 2021 issue.)
After a long, chilly winter, there’s nothing that gets gardeners more motivated to plant than the flowers of spring. The first bulbs grace us with their presence in March, followed by a progression of color throughout the entire month of April. A true feeling of relief seems to be felt across the country when the iconic flowering cherry trees bloom in Washington, D.C., which sometimes marks the end of winter for many of us. Even though horticulturists prefer planting most trees in the Fall, there’s no denying the fact that gardeners love to plant flowering trees in the spring. As long as this motivation to a grow a tree continues after planting, these trees can be successfully installed at this time, as long as watering and follow up care continues for the new tree during the entire growing season. The best time to plant a tree, is truly when someone is ready to dedicate the time and energy required to not just plant it, but to nurture it during the first few seasons. The following are some top flowering tree picks for Spring 2021.
Evening Light Japanese Snowbell
Styrax japonicus ‘Evening Light’
Stunning, glossy, deep purple foliage is the perfect backdrop for bell-shaped, white flowers in June. This compact beauty (15’ tall x 10’ wide) fits into smaller garden spaces and serves as a unique alternative to Japanese Maple. It is sure to be a very unique specimen selection in a smaller garden space.
Sparkling Sprite Crabapple
Malus ‘Sparkling Sprite’
This tight and tidy disease-resistant selection of crabapple has a perfect lollipop form for a formal garden. The pink buds burst open into white blooms and later form into tiny, golden-orange fruits. The word “cute” best word to describe to this Dr. Suess-like tree.
Pink Cascade Cherry
Prunus ‘Pink Cascade’
The graceful weeping habit of this cherry is truly stunning when it is smothered in pink flowers. It is easy to grow but be sure to give it some room to stretch out a bit as it has the potential to grow 12’ tall and 12’ wide. It also makes a great hiding spot for neighborhood games of hide-and-seek.
Cercis canadensis ‘Merlot’
Magenta-rose spring flowers are followed by glossy, deep purple foliage that blends into bronze purple as summer progresses. A better performer in summer heat than ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud, it is a striking standout in a smaller garden (18’ tall x 20’). This is a cousin to the native redbud tree.
Pink Flair Cherry
Prunus sargentii ‘Pink Flair’
The compact, upright form (25’ tall x 15’ wide) on this cherry makes it perfect for smaller urban landscapes. The blooming period is a week or two later than other cherries, so it often escapes Spring frost damage. Orange-red fall color is consistently bright and its upright structure has a striking winter presence.
When selecting a tree, always first consider planting a tree that is native to our region, such as a dogwood, redbud or serviceberry. When sited and planted properly, these trees will grow and thrive because they are from here and therefore well suited to grow here. For more information on native trees, check out www.grownative.org.
Jennifer Schamber is the General Manager of Greenscape Gardens in St. Louis, Missouri, and plays leadership roles in the Western Nursery & Landscape Association, GrowNative!, and the Landscape & Nursery Association of Greater St. Louis. She has earned Green Profit Magazine’s Young Retailer Award, and Greenscape Gardens was named the National Winner of the 2015 “Revolutionary 100” Garden Centers by Today’s Garden Center Magazine.