10 Best Flowering Trees and Shrubs for Adding Gorgeous Spring Color to Your Yard
A small, multi-stemmed, pink flowering tree, eastern redbud can reach 20 to 30 feet tall with a rounded crown. Early spring flowers are breathtaking, opening from a reddish-purple in bud to a rosy pink bloom. The heart-shape leaves emerge after the flowers, and can turn a beautiful yellow in the fall. This fast grower is happiest in full sun or light shade with well-drained soil, and grows best in Zones 5-9.
The Southern magnolia tree is popular in Zones 5-9 for its beautifully fragrant, cream-colored spring flowers; large, shiny, evergreen leaves with a fuzzy underside; and red fruit in fall. It can reach 60 to 80 feet tall and 30 to 50 feet wide (though you can find smaller varieties too). Southern magnolia works best in a yard, because it sheds leaves all year long and can make a mess on walkways or in pools. Well-drained soil is a must, and planting in a spot with full sun will give you the best flower show.
A spreading tree, flowering dogwood has horizontal branches that keep it looking beautiful even in the winter. Depending on your climate, the size can vary, but typically, dogwood is 20 to 40 feet tall and wide. Its leaves turn reddish-purple in the fall, and it produces glossy red fruit. The late-spring true flowers are tiny, but each one is surrounded by four eye-catching white or pink bracts. Care requirements can change depending on the variety, but in general, dogwoods like well-drained, slightly acidic soil and part-shade in Zones 3-8.
Usually an early sign of spring, forsythia is an upright, arching deciduous shrub with bright yellow flowers. Some branches arch, while others shoot upwards, giving it a lush, full appearance. Use in an informal hedge or as a specimen in a border. Easy-to-grow forsythia can handle plenty of different conditions, but it'll perform best in evenly moist, well-drained soil and full sun in Zones 4-9.
This is one of the hardiest and latest-blooming hydrangeas, hardy in Zones 3-8. It has large, cone-shape white flowers in summer that gradually turn reddish-brown and last into winter. Although it can reach up to 15 feet tall, and be pruned as a tree, it's usually less than 10 feet tall. Slightly acidic, well-drained soil is best, and hydrangea trees can tolerate both full sun and part shade.
Rhododendron and Azalea
Both belonging to the genus Rhododendron, azaleas and rhododendrons share many characteristics. Both groups thrive in well-drained acidic soil and light shade in Zones 3-9. One point of difference is the shape of their flowers: Azaleas have funnel-shape blossoms, while rhododendrons have trumpet-shape flowers. And although there are literally hundreds of species and varieties in the Rhododendron family, the most popular are planted for their brilliance and the high number of spring flowers they produce.
A reliable, compact, rounded shrub, spirea requires almost no care. It matures up to four feet tall and up to six feet wide, and grows best in Zones 3-8. The flat-topped flower clusters bloom in summer when many other blossoms are fading (plus, they last into winter!), and can be pink, red, yellow, or white. Depending on the season, leaves can be green, pinkish, or even purple. Spirea is usually happiest in a spot with full sun and good drainage, but some varieties can also grow in the shade.
Modern shrub roses, distinct from classic shrub roses, are a family of rose hybrids first developed by David Austin in the 1970s. They're 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. Like other varieties, shrub roses need full sun to bloom and well-drained soil to thrive, and they're hardy in Zones 3-10.
Related: Landscaping with Roses
Japanese flowering crabapples are small to mid-sized trees that can grow in low mounds, upright, narrow, or weeping types. In spring, they're covered with fragrant white, pink, or red flowers, and produce tiny yellow, orange, or red apples in fall. Look for newer varieties that are disease-resistant and hold their fruit into the winter. In Zones 3-8, plant in a spot that gets full sun with moist, well-drained soil.
Related: Best Crabapples for Your Yard
A mounded shrub with arching red branches, abelia has shiny, dark green leaves that turn bronze in late fall. The leaves hang on through the winter in warm regions, but fall off in colder areas in its range, which is hardiness Zones 6-9. Clusters of short, funnel-shape light pink flowers bloom from midsummer through autumn and have a light, barely noticeable scent. Abelia makes a good hedge, either clipped or unclipped, and grows best in full sun or part shade with well-drained soil.