Determine the ultimate purpose for the tree
Shade, beautification, screening, and/or wildlife habitat are key considerations. Knowing these factors help narrow the decision process.
Consider the space that the tree will grow in
How much space is there for the tree to grow into. How far away will it need to be planted from structures and/or other plant material. Plant a tree that will fit the space properly when it has matured.
Give careful thought not only the flower color, but also fall fruit and fall colors, or possibly fruit color and characteristics
Consider the look and impact it will make to the landscape after spring is over.
Research the potential problems this tree might have
Is it prone to disease? Insect problems? Structural weakness? If additional management will be necessary to maintain proper health then you want to know that before you plant the tree.
Now, let’s look at some potential candidates for your landscape!
Great Spring-Flowering trees for Central Pennsylvania
Serviceberry (Amelanchier Sp.)
A great native white-flowering tree, that blooms very early in spring and produces fruit in June that attract birds. There are shrub and tree cultivars. Serviceberry trees also typically have great fall color.
Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)
Magenta buds and violet pink flowers bloom before foliage develops in April. Native to Pennsylvania and grows in both acid and alkaline soils. The traditional variety of Eastern Redbud has green heart-shaped leaves throughout the year. There is also a cultivar called Forrest Pansy that has purple leaves through most of the growing season
Dogwood (Cornus Species)
The flowering dogwood (C. florida) is a great plant for the landscape, but must be planted in sunny locations, as anthracnose disease can be devastating in shade. It comes in pure white, light & dark pink and rosy red. It can also be devastated by borer insects. Kousa Dogwood (C. kousa) is highly prized in the landscape for its flowers and pest & disease resistance. It flowers 2 to 3 weeks later than C. florida which creates a unique contrast. American varieties will flower before leafing-out, whereas the Kousa will have leaves first and blooms will grow out on top of the leaves.
Hawthorn (Crataegus Sp.)
The Washington Hawthorn is native and highly adaptable, producing a profusion of white flowers with attract brilliant red fall fruit and is densely covered with 1–3 inch thorns providing wonderful bird habitat. Other Hawthorns are the Lavalle Hawthorn (C. x lavalle) and Cockspur Hawthorn (C. crusgalli). A great cultivar is ‘Winter King’. Some cultivars are more disease resistant than others, and a few are thornless.
Magnolia (Magnolia Sp.)
When in bloom, the spectacular flower display of the hybrid Saucer Magnolia that comes in white, rose, pink and maroon cultivars has few rivals to its eye catching beauty. Another variety is Sweetbay Magnolia has cream white flowers, and does well in wet soils. There are also dozens of other great varieties that vary in bloom colors, sizes, etc.
Crabapple (Malus Sp.)
Flowering Crabapples are the dominate spring flowering tree with over 800 cultivars one can find a rounded upright form, weeping forms, cutleaf, white, pink or red flowers and fruit that stay on all winter and becoming food for migrating spring song birds. The improved varieties are highly disease resistant. Here are a few varieties that work well in PA: Malus floribunda, ‘Tea Crab’, ‘Sargent Crabapple’, ‘Zumi Calicarpa’, ‘Indian Summer’, ‘Liset’, ‘Prairiefire’ and ‘Mary Potter’.
Flowering Cherry (Prunus Sp.)
These are some of the first to bloom in early spring. Available in pink and white. The Cherry Blossom Flower is the national flower of Japan, where the tree is named Sakura which translates as ‘tree on which god sits.’ The ‘Kwanzan’ Flowering Cherry tree is considered to be the most beautiful flowering tree by many landscapers. The Nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C. began planting ‘Kwanzan’ Flowering Cherry trees last century and thousands of tourists migrate there for the Flowering Cherry Tree festival in the Spring to enjoy the pink flowering extravaganza. Other varieties include ‘Yoshino’ Flowering Cherry, and ‘Snow Fountain’ Flowering Cherry Tree.
This list is not meant to be all inclusive but to get you pointed in the right direction. Remember the site you are planting in and what you would like this tree to accomplish for you. Remember to research the proper way to plant a tree or find an experienced and qualified local landscaper to plant your trees for you!
Enjoy the majesty of our Spring Flowering Trees! If you would like to discuss planting trees like these or others on your property, we would be happy to talk to you.