Landscape Design

Top 10 Flowering Trees

By Sheereen Othman | March 13, 2017

The season of vibrant blossoms and sweet scents is almost here.  Although the weather says otherwise in some parts of the country, many people will start their spring planting. Flowering trees are great choices if you’re looking to spruce up your landscape and add splashes of color to your yard.

Here are the top 10 flowering trees sold from the Arbor Day Tree Nursery , in order of the most popular.

  1. Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)

There’s no better way to welcome the coming of spring than with the profusion of yellow blooms covering graceful, arching branches. The forsythia is a fast-growing, hardy shrub that blooms early—providing a sunny sight before the rest of the landscape greens up.

  1. Fragrant Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Spectacular flowers in shades of lilac, light purple, or lavender make this old-time lilac a garden favorite. The long-lasting flower clusters bloom in April or May and are framed with lush green foliage. Their nostalgic fragrance adds to the “coming of spring.”

The lilac is an extremely hardy shrub and can be used as an individual specimen plant, informal hedge, shrub border, windbreak or screen.

  1. Pee Gee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’)

This is the most common H. paniculata form. It can be grown either as a large shrub or small tree, and it is known for its large panicles of white flowers. In fact, with some good pruning, this shrub can produce flower clusters measuring up to 12-18″ in length!

  1. Crapemyrtle (Crape Myrtle) (Lagerstroemia indica)

The crapemyrtle is often referred to as the “lilac of the South.” With its striking flowers, handsome bark and attractive foliage, this species is a favorite for landscapes. It can be grown as either a shrub or small tree and is often used in groupings, containers, hedges and screens. You can even find the common crapemyrtle used as small street trees in urban settings. If you live in the right region, this could be a show-stopping addition to your yard.

  1. Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis)

The Japanese flowering cherry (also known as the Yoshino cherry) is the darling of the flowering tree world and the star of such renowned events as the National and International Cherry Blossom Festivals. This stand-out tree is, of course, known for its vibrant display of white-pink blossoms and faint almond fragrance in the springtime. In the summer, this tree will be a highlight in the yard with its oriental branching pattern, glossy bark and dark green leaves.

  1. White Dogwood (Cornus florida)

An excellent landscape choice for all four seasons, the White Dogwood is a favorite in many yards and gardens. White “flowers” show their beauty in spring, foliage turns a vibrant red-purple in fall and glossy red fruits attract winter songbirds for the enjoyment of all.

This tree is a great option to plant near utility lines, next to larger buildings or near patios. It also offers nice contrast when planted along with Pink or Red Dogwoods with larger evergreens in the background.

  1. Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida rubra)

The pink dogwood is a very popular landscape tree. In fact, millions of seedlings and budded trees are produced every year for commercial nurseries around the country. Just one look at this stunning specimen in full bloom, and you’ll know why.

This is a good tree for planting near utility lines, next to buildings or near patios. It is also an excellent contrast tree for larger evergreen backgrounds.

  1. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Southern magnolia is a magnificent tree with a name that is somewhat misleading. Although it is most prevalent in the South—and the state tree of Mississippi—its zone 6 planting range means it can grow in many northern areas, even as far north as parts of Maine, Michigan and Washington. As an ornamental, it is beloved for its year-round foliage and delightful, large, late-spring flowers.

  1. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)

The saucer magnolia is a landscape show-stopper. The stunning early spring blossoms have been said to open “like a thousand porcelain goblets,” and lush summertime leaves are dark green and leathery—adding nice contrast to silvery-gray bark. One of the most popular flowering trees in the United States, the saucer magnolia is also widely planted in Europe. If you’re in search of a specimen tree or shrub to make a splash in your yard, look no further.

  1. Prairifire Flowering Crabapple (Malus ‘Prairifire’)

Its showy, dark pink to red flowers are what draw most people to the prairifire flowering crabapple. And for good reason. The stunning, long-lasting spring blossoms are a sight to behold. But this variety also offer year-round beauty with its changing leaf color. Glossy maroon or purplish-red in spring, the leaves become dark green with purplish-red veins in the summer then a beautiful bronze color in autumn.

And to add to its visual appeal, the prairifire flowering crabapple is disease-resistant and able to adapt to many different site conditions.

What to expect when your new trees arrive

Each tree order comes with step-by-step planting instructions on planting your trees.

Watch this planting video on how to plant bare-root trees.

Our membership trees (the 10 free trees you received with a donation) are small seedlings extending less than 12 inches in length. They will be color coded with a guide to help you identify which tree is which. Nursery trees will have tags on the branches to help you identify them. Your trees are living organisms and should be planted as soon as possible.

There is still time to buy trees for this spring shipping season. Check out the tree shipping schedule to learn when the cutoff date is for spring shipping in your area.

Check out the Top 10 Shade Trees.

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  • Reply Jackie Haglund March 15, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    we are so delighted to becoming a Member and planting all of our tree’s. Now that I heard of this web site through a friend. We will spread the word of making our environment a much better place for our grand kids to enjoy. Happy Digging everyone.

  • Reply James Irvine March 19, 2017 at 7:14 am

    We are so excited that our flowering trees have arrived. I immediately followed the instructions. They are all carefully planted and are already showing signs of growth. I look forward to the day when they add color and beauty to our yard.
    I noticed that the trees were not tagged but are painted with colors. I could not find a color Key to indicate the type of tree. I may have thrown it out at this point. Is there a color key you could send to me? Thank you for the wonderful trees.

  • Reply Gina September 4, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    When are trees arrived we had in climate weather and were experiencing a medical situation. So we planted all twelve trees with plans of moving to a better area of the yard.They did not grow much so we weren’t sure they would last. We are now six years later and we have two trees surviving. Definitely not in a good place as they are too close to one another and too close to our existing (very old) pine trees. One is definitely the American Redbud (heart shaped leaves). It had a few blooms on a couple of the branches for the first time this year. The other is unknown. It had a few white blossoms on the tip top of about four branches early summer. We thought Flowering Dogwood or Crabapple. A few weeks ago there were about four or five round, green “fruits” where the blossoms were. My neighbor said it was a Bradford Pear, because of the shape of the tree and description of the “fruit”. There were only a few flowers but they did not “stink” as I’ve heard Bradford Pears do. The fruit must have fallen off and eaten by an animal. Bradford Pear was not one of the free trees included. There are no red berries on it. I read that
    Bradford Pear is not good for the environment and especially bad for Pine Trees.
    What could this be??

    • Reply Christine Hutfles September 5, 2017 at 9:22 am

      Hi Gina, it is hard to identify a tree without seeing it. We would be happy to take a look and help identify the “mystery” tree. Please send photos to our member services team at Thanks!

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