Most flowering trees are small and can be planted in full sun or partial shade, being easily adapted to small yards. The Japanese Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia x Soulangiana, awakens in late winter or early spring. First growing flower buds that increase in size as the weather warms up, burst into dramatic flower colors of purple, pink, white, red, and yellow; the yellow flowering magnolia is the rarest. If freezing weather occurs, as it often does during the late winter or early spring, the flowers will wither from the tree, but most often will rebloom, as the weather warms up again.
Crabapple flowering trees are cloud-like, fluffy white, pink or red in color, and often bloom along with the flowering dogwood trees and the pink redbud trees. The white dogwood, Cornus florida, flowering trees are among the most generally planted and grafted pink dogwood cultivars, and red dogwood trees are available to buy commercially, but are much more expensive. White dogwood trees, Cornus florida, were discovered and described as growing in Florida and Alabama in 1773, by the famous American botanist and explorer, William Bartram, who wrote in his book, Travels, page 399, “We now entered a very remarkable grove of Dogwood Trees (Cornus Florida) … an … admirable grove by way of eminence has acquired the name of the Dogwoods … spacious groves of this fine flowering tree, which must, in the Spring season, when covered with blooms, present a most pleasing scene.”
Flowering cherry trees in the primitive wild forests were described by William Bartram, in his book Travels, on page 196, as “delightful grove of … Prunus Caroliniana, a most beautiful evergreen, decorated with its sweet, white blossoms.” This flowering cherry tree today is known as the Cherry Laurel, and is in high demand as an evergreen privacy screen that produces in late spring, fragrant white flowers. American gardeners have been struck with the beauty of the long list of varieties of Japanese, flowering cherry trees. The most important Japanese flowering cherry tree is the Kwanzan, Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’, that grows splendidly as a beautiful garden specimen, abundantly clothed in early spring with large, double-flowering blossoms, that grows up to 25 feet tall. 350 of these trees were planted in Washington, D.C., in 1912, by the First Lady, wife of President Taft, and 1800 Yoshino flowering cherries were planted at the same time. In 1935, the first National Cherry Blossom Festival was held at the Nation’s Capitol, and since then, many other Cherry Blossom City festivals have been held to celebrate the birth of spring. Citizens of Macon, Georgia have planted thousands of these Yoshino flowering cherry trees to connect with many pageants and local events, which attract large numbers of tourists to celebrate the festival. These Japanese, flowering cherry trees are cold hardy, and recommended to be grown and planted in zones 5 – 9. Other popular Japanese cultivars are; Blireiana, Prunus cerasifera ‘Blireiana’; Kwansan, Prunus serrulata ‘Kwansan’; Okame, Prunus campanulata x Prunus incisa; Snow Fountain, Prunus x Snow Fountains ‘Snowfozam’; Snow Fountain (Dwarf), Prunus x CV. ‘Snofozam’; Yoshino (Akebone), Prunus yedoenis ‘Akebone’;
William Bartram observed two other native plants that were flowering trees growing near Mobile, Alabama, on page 396 of Travels, “I observed amongst them wild Crab (Pyrus coronaria), and Prunus indica, or wild Plumb.” The wild “Plumb” tree, Prunus indica, that Bartram saw, identified today was the Chicasaw plum, Prunus angustifolia. In his travels throughout Georgia, Bartram found a native flowering plum, Prunus indica. Flowering plum tree hybrids that are commercially available from mail order gardeners are a stunning, reddish-purple leaf plum, named Newport, Prunus cerasifera ‘Newport’, that grows 20 feet tall and thrives in zones 4 – 10; Purple Pony, Prunus cerasifera ‘Purple Pony’, a genetic dwarf growing only to 10 feet and decked in flowers colored red, pink, and white; Thundercloud, Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’, grows copper-red leaves, that after flowering, produces a delicious, edible, red plum fruit, zone 5 – 9.
Crabapple flowering trees are reliable bloomers with soft, fluffy flowers, in the early spring of red, pink, or white, with outstanding cultivars of Pink (Brandywine), Malus ‘Brazam’; Red Perfection, Malus ‘Red’; Red, Malus eleyi; Radiant, Malus pumila ‘Niedzwetzkyana Radiant’; White (Spring Snow), Malus ‘Spring Snow’; White (Floribunda), Malus ‘Floribunda’; Wildlife animals experience long-term food availability from the crabapple fruit, intensively grazed upon especially by deer, duck, and turkey.
William Bartram also found the wild American, native flowering tree, the Grancy Greybeard, Chionanthus virginicus, growing as an under story plant, as described in his book, Travels, written in 1773, page 7. Gracy Greybeard, Chionanthus virginicus, is also known as the Fringe Tree, covered with rounded creamy-white clusters of deliciously fragrant blooms. These trees grow to 30 feet and are very cold hardy to zone 3 – 9. Chionanthus virginicus is a very rare tree, and is very difficult to find or buy from a mail order company nursery.
Flowering pear trees, Pyrus calleryana, are well known to most gardeners, and the trees being early flowering in March, abundantly covered with white clusters of flowers. Outstanding cultivars of flowering pear trees are: Aristocrat, Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’; Autumn Blaze, Pyrus calley calleyana ‘Autumn Blaze’;, Bradford Ornamental Pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’; Cleveland Select Pear, Pryus calleryana ‘Cleveland Select’; and Chanticleer Flowering Pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’; Many large cities line out flowering pear trees in well positioned rows along boulevards and sidewalks for spring enjoyment.