Best Flowering Trees and Shrubs
Eastern redbud is a small, handsome, multistemmed understory tree that reaches 20 to 30 feet with a 20- to 30-foot rounded crown. Early spring flowers are breathtaking, opening from a reddish purple in bud to a rosy-pink. The heart-shaped leaves emerge after the flowers. Fall color is sometimes an attractive yellow.
This Southern tree is widely planted for its beautifully fragrant, creamy-to-white spring flowers; large, shiny, evergreen leaves with a fuzzy underside; and red fruit in fall. It is a large tree, reaching 60 to 80 feet tall and 30 to 50 feet wide. Smaller cultivars are available. Plant it away from walks or pools, where its litter can be unsightly.
Flowering dogwood is a spreading tree with horizontal branches that give it winter interest. Size varies with climate; a typical size is 20 to 40 feet tall and wide. The distinctive leaves turn to reddish-purple in fall. The late-spring true flowers are insignificant, but are surrounded by four attractive white or pink bracts. The fruit is glossy red in fall.
Forsythia is a sunny harbinger of spring. Border forsythia is an upright, arching deciduous shrub that offers its bright yellow flowers in early spring. Some branches arch, while others shoot upwards. Use in an informal hedge or as a specimen in a border.
Pee Gee Hydrangea
This is one of the hardiest and latest-blooming hydrangeas. It bears large, cone-shaped white flowers in summer that gradually turn reddish brown and persist into winter. Although it can reach up to 15 feet tall -- and be pruned as a tree -- more often it is under 10 feet tall.
Rhododendron and Azalea
Rhododendrons and azaleas belong to the genus Rhododendron, and share many characteristics. Both groups thrive in well-drained acid soil and light shade. One point of difference is the shape of their flowers. Azaleas have funnel shaped blossoms, while rhododendrons have trumpet-shaped flowers. And although there are literally hundreds of species and varieties in the Rhododendron family, the most popular are noted the brilliance and quantity of spring flower display.
'Anthony Waterer' Spirea
'Anthony Waterer' spirea is probably the most widely grown cultivar of the most widely grown spirea. It is a reliable, compact, rounded shrub that requires almost no care. It matures to 2 to 4 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide. The carmine-pink flat-topped flower clusters are 4 to 6 inches wide and bloom in summer when little else does; they dry and persist into winter. New leaves are purplish, turning green, then pinkish in fall.
Modern shrub roses, as distinct from classic shrub roses, are a family of rose hybrids first developed by David Austin in the 1970s. They are a cross of old garden roses with hybrid tea roses and other modern varieties. They combine the fragrance and form of old roses with the strength, hardiness, and long bloom season of modern hybrids.
Japanese flowering crabapples are small to midsized trees ranging in habit from low mounds to upright, narrow, or weeping types. In spring, they are covered with fragrant white, pink, or red flowers, and in fall with small yellow, orange, or red apples. Many have attractive branching that's revealed in winter. Look for newer varieties that are disease resistant and that hold their fruit into the winter.
Abelia is a mounded shrub with arching red branches. Shiny, dark green leaves turn bronze in late fall. The leaves remain through the winter in warm regions, but fall off in colder areas in its range. The clusters of short, funnel-shaped pinkish flowers bloom from midsummer through autumn and are slightly fragrant. Abelia makes a good hedge, either clipped or unclipped.