10 Easy, Early Spring Blooming Trees & Vibrant Shrubs!

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Early spring blooming trees are a wonderful “welcome home” from your warm-weather winter vacation and can be a simple cure to coach you out of your winter cocoon. Even better, these flowering trees and shrubs are almost effortless to care for.

If your yard could use a little spring pick-me-up, try planting one or more of the 10 varieties below to add color to your landscape as they herald a beautiful start to the season, year after year!

Magnolias on Comm Ave Boston MA | Enjoy Travel Life
Saucer Magnolia blooms in Boston’s Back Bay.

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CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about choosing easy, early spring blooming trees and how to maintain them, including:

Why Spring Flowering Trees Are Great

Purple crocuses, jubilant jonquils, and other bulbs planted in fall mark spring’s arrival when they emerge.

But their petite proclamation is faint compared to the bold enthusiasm of early spring blooming trees and flowering shrubs. With their branches joyfully uplifted and magnificent colors and forms, it’s hard to deny that spring has sprung!”

There are many reasons why planting a few early spring flowering trees in your landscape is a good decision. In fact, famous realtor Jill Pfeffer has found that it can improve your home’s curb appeal and increase its value; but this is only one small benefit.

Here are a few more:

  • Flowering trees are almost carefree
  • They provide a burst of color when you need it most
  • In a mixed garden, flowering trees complement spring bulbs and small ornamental shrubs
  • Many trees that flower in spring provide year-round interest

Without further justification, let’s get right to the best spring-blooming trees so you can decide which one(s) suit you.

Related: Before you plant your trees, be sure to avoid these common spring gardening mistakes.

10 Best Spring Flowering Trees

You’ll find a wide selection of beautiful spring flowering trees from which to choose. These are some of our favorites.

1. Redbud

redbud blossoms | Enjoy Travel Life
The Redbud provides color in a naturalized setting or as a stunning focal point.

Leading the spring procession in color is the Eastern Redbud (Cercus canadensis). Clusters of small, rosy-pink to purplish flowers shaped like sweet peas cover the twiggy branches before a single leaf emerges.

At a mature height of up to 35 feet and a loose, rounded growth habit, this tree works well to provide color in a naturalized setting with native perennials or as a stunning focal point.

2. Star Magnolia

star magnolia flowers | Enjoy Travel Life
Star Magnolia is the earliest of the northern hardy magnolias to bloom.

The Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata), with chalk-white flowers in a 3-inch starburst of narrow petals, is the earliest of the northern-hardy magnolias to bloom. It sometimes suffers damage to blooms from a late frost, but most often is a harbinger of an early spring.

Star Magnolias grow to about 10 feet tall with a spread of 20 feet and make ideal border plantings. Its pink-flowered variety, “Rosea,” adds lovely soft tones to any yard.

3. Saucer Magnolia

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The dramatic mauve flowers of the Saucer Magnolia average 6 inches across.

The Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana) is breathtaking to behold! Its dramatic mauve flowers average 6 inches across and starkly contrast the tree’s bare branches.

Flowers range from rosy pink and white, to deeper pinks and purples, and even buttery yellows.

Saucer magnolias grow to about 25 feet with a 25-foot spread and seldom require pruning. Homeowners are rewarded early with blooms on the youngest of trees.

4. Dogwood

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Flowering Dogwoods are native to New England and the eastern United States.

The four-petalled, notched, or “bracted” blooms of the Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) develop color as they emerge. They are native to New England and the eastern United States. Those found in the woods are most often white, but nursery stock includes pink- to almost red-blooming varieties.

The Flowering Dogwood can reach up to 40 feet but usually averages about 20 feet.

The threat of the tree developing the anthracnose fungus is lessened by planting in full sun, and is less of a problem and some hybrids.

5. Ornamental Pear

The Ornamental Pear (Pyrus callaryana), particularly “Bradford,” is a common site along sidewalks and neighborhood developments. Its pyramidal to oval shape and tolerance of urban conditions make it suitable for formal drives and entranceways.

It blooms in clusters of pure white flowers followed by glossy, attractive leaves. Small, edible pears set fruit in fall.

6. Crapapple Tree

crab apple blossom | Enjoy Travel Life
After its showy bloom, the fruit of Crabapples makes a delicious jam or jelly.

Equally noted for its decorative fruit to make jams and jellies, Crabapples (Malus spp.) provide a spectacular but brief spring display of white, pink, or red flowers.

Most crab apples grow to about 25 feet and are attractive lawn ornaments or as a privacy screen along fences.

Look for disease-resistant varieties, since crabapples can be plagued with pests and disease. That shouldn’t be hard with over 600 kinds of Crabapple in cultivation.

7. Dwarf Flowering Almond

The Dwarf Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa) is more shrub-like in its habit, growing to about 3 to 5 feet. It flowers in single or double white or pink flowers that resemble the pom-pom shape of some chrysanthemums.

Its small size makes it perfect under low windows, alongside porches, and in smaller garden areas.

8. Flowering Cherry

japanese cherry trees | Enjoy Travel Life
Flowering Cherry makes an excellent landscape focal point.

The profuse, fluffy blooms of Flowering Cherry (Prunus spp.) are an old favorite. Most varieties prefer full sun and fertile soil and grow to about 25 feet in an attractive vaselike sheep.

They make excellent focal points individually or when grouped.

Also popular is the Weeping Cherry (Prunus subhirtella pendula), which is prized for its grace fountainlike branches drenched in single pink flowers. It’s a real show-stopper!

9. Red Leaf Plum

An alternative to Cherry trees in less fertile soil is the Dwarf Red Leaf Plum (Prunus cistena), which blooms in delicate white or light-pink flowers. It sports handsome purplish foliage thereafter and grows to 10 feet tall.

10. Cornelian Cherry

cornelian cherry flowers | Enjoy Travel Life
Cornealian Cherry is actually belongs to the Dogwood family.

Despite its name, the Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) is actually in the Dogwood family. It has tight clusters of small star-shaped yellow flowers that bloom in early spring before leaves emerge.

This versatile specimen grows from 20 to 25 feet high and thrives in well-drained urban conditions, en mass, by a patio, or as a hedge.

After the glossy green leaves emerge in summer, this tree has the added benefit of producing dark red edible fruits that ripen in July.

Spring Flowering Shrubs

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Fragrant purple lilacs
forsythia in bloom | Enjoy Travel Life
Bright Yellow stalks of Forsythia

You can complement spring-flowering trees with shrubs in bloom for a full landscape performance.

  • The unbridled enthusiasm of brilliant yellow Forsythia is unmistakable. It makes a superb informal specimen planting or relaxed hedge.
  • Early blooming Rhododendrons, like the Carolina Rhododendron (R. carolinianum) display pale pink flowers that contrast its blue-green foliage.
  • PJM Rhododendrum (R. ‘PJM’) is another early bloomer in lavender-pink flowers; it makes an excellent foundation planting.
  • And no spring landscape is complete without the heady perfume of Lilacs (Syringa spp.), available in an array of colors beyond the traditional bluish lavender.

Flowering Container Trees

potted trees nursery | Enjoy Travel Life
For small spaces or to enhance your outdoor living space, opt for container-grown trees.

Finally, you can look to container trees to add a flowering design element that’s needed in your outdoor living space, like your patio, deck, or balcony.

Here’s how.

Choose a large pot or tub, be prepared to water frequently (as much as twice a day), and replace the topsoil each year to replenish lost nutrients.

If the tree will remain outdoors year-round, be sure the pot is frostproof, as well as the tree.

Here are some to try. (Those with * are not frost-hardy.)

  • Acacia (A. dealbata)*
  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)*
  • Dwarf Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa)
  • Flowering Cherry (Prunus ‘Amanogawa’)
  • Jacaranda (J. Mimosifolia)*
  • Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)
  • Olive (Olea europaea)
  • Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)
  • Weeping Chinese Banyan (Ficus benjamina)*

Related: Taking Care of Trees: How to Keep Your Beautiful Trees Healthy

Tips for Maximizing Spring Blooms in Your Landscape

When you take proper care of your spring-blooming trees, you’ll reap rewards for years to come. Here are some tips to maximize the show.

Select the Right Trees for Your Growing Zone

Understanding your hardiness zone is crucial when you’re choosing small flowering trees and shrubs for your garden. Trees like the Japanese magnolias and flowering cherry trees thrive in a range of zones, offering spring beauties with their flower color. Ensure your selections are suited to your area for best results.

Integrate Native Trees for Eco-Friendly Gardening

Incorporating native trees into your landscape not only adds spring color but also supports local wildlife. Trees such as the dogwood trees and wild plum are excellent choices that adapt well to North America’s varied climates. They also provide edible fruit and bright red fruits as an added bonus.

Give Late Spring Care for Early Bloomers

As your early bloomers finish their show, new growth begins. This is the time of year to apply a balanced fertilizer to encourage healthy development and prepare the trees for the next blooming season. For magnolia trees and apple trees, ensuring well-drained soil and part shade or full sun conditions can enhance their growth and flower buds production.

Design with Shade and Ornamental Trees

Shade trees like the southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and ornamental trees such as the forest pansy (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) play an important role in the home landscape. Their large size and lovely specimen qualities provide not only beauty but also functional benefits, offering cooling shade and creating inviting outdoor spaces.

The Role of Flowering Shrubs in the Spring Garden

Beyond trees, spring flowering shrubs like the Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) and crape myrtles offer extended blooms from early summer into late summer. These large shrubs can act as focal points or privacy screens, with varieties available for every partial shade to full sun spot in your garden.

Preserve Spring Splendor: Avoiding Invasive Species

While adding spring bloom to your garden, be mindful of invasive species. Research plants like the prunus serrulata (Japanese Cherry) to ensure they won’t harm your local ecosystem. Opting for non-invasive, small flowering trees and shrubs will keep your garden beautiful and environmentally responsible.

How to Elevate Your Garden’s Visual and Sensory Landscape

Creating a garden that delights the senses and captivates the eye is an art form. With the right selection of small trees, large shrubs, and mature trees, your garden can become a haven of fall foliage, sweet fragrance, and stunning flower color throughout the seasons.

Seasonal Spectacles with Mature and Small Trees

Enrich your garden with favorite trees that offer year-round interest. From the springtime bloom of the Loebner Magnolia to the fast-growing trees that quickly reach their mature size, there’s a tree for every garden story. The weeping form of certain ornamental trees, like flowering cherries, introduces an element of grace, while the dark green leaves of shade trees provide a backdrop that highlights seasonal changes.

Incorporate a Tapestry of Color and Texture

Imagine a special tree like the Donald Wyman Crabapple, known not just for its bright red fruits but also for its role in attracting wildlife and adding biodiversity to your garden. Spring flowers from small flowering trees and the edible fruit of others, such as certain apple trees, enrich the garden’s palette and utility.

Fragrance and Form: A Dual Delight

Incorporate trees and shrubs that bring a sweet fragrance to your space, transforming your garden into an aromatic retreat. The southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), with its large trees bearing showy dark pink flowers or white flowering tree varieties, creates focal points that are as pleasing to the nose as they are to the eye.

Choosing for Longevity and Impact

Selecting the right plants for your growing zone and soil conditions, including well-drained soil and partial shade or full sun locations, ensures that your garden thrives. Consider the long winter as an opportunity to plan for early bloomers that herald the arrival of spring and large shrubs that maintain privacy and structure in the garden.

By thoughtfully integrating these elements into your landscape, you ensure that your garden is not only a good idea but a living masterpiece that reflects your personal taste and the natural beauty of the world around us. Every season brings its own best times to enjoy the fruits of your labor, from the delicate spring bloom to the lovely specimen plants that characterize your garden year after year.

Final Thoughts on Spring Flowering Trees & Shrubs

Now, take another look at your yard. Does it fully reflect the jubilation of spring? Is it the welcome to a new season you’d hoped for?

If not, you’ll easily achieve the look you envision by adding a few of these early spring flowering trees and shrubs to your landscape.

As for the interior decoration, you can add potted flowers and plants. Check them out here to select the perfect indoor plants.

If you love spending spring in the garden, you’ll want to read these top 5 easy spring gardening tips next.

Jackie Gately at the beach

About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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This article first appeared in The Patriot Ledger as “Spring has Sprung / Flowering Trees and Shrubs A Colorful Sign of the Season” by Jaqueline Gately. (5/5/01). It may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

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Photo credits: Redbud – Mike Goad, Star Magnolia – Heidelbergerin, Saucer Magnolia – HeungSoon, Dogwood – Manfred Richter, Forsythia – Andreas Lischka, Lilac – Conger Design (Pixabay) 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Early Spring Blooming Trees

If you have more questions about spring-blooming trees and vibrant shrubs, look below.

What trees bloom first in the spring?

Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis), known for their heart-shaped leaves and showy dark pink flowers, are among the first small flowering trees to announce spring. These ornamental trees play an important role in transitioning the home landscape from the long winter to the vibrant growing season.

What are the first blooming flowers of spring?

Before trees hit full bloom, pussy willows and magnolia flowers, particularly from the Magnolia x soulangiana (Saucer Magnolia), mark the start of spring. These spring beauties thrive in well-drained soil and can blossom as early as late winter to early spring, depending on the growing zone.

What type of tree blooms purple in early spring?

The Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), with its purple flowers and heart-shaped leaves, is a favorite tree that blooms in early spring. Its vibrant color and small mature size make it a good choice for both small gardens and as a lovely specimen in larger landscapes.

What trees are flowering now?

By late April to early May, Dogwood trees (Cornus spp.) and Yoshino cherry trees (Prunus x yedoensis) are in full bloom. These trees, including the Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) with its white flowering tree variety, provide a breathtaking display in both partial shade and full sun conditions.

What tree has flowers in April?

In April, the Yoshino cherry tree, celebrated during the Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) with its white and pink flowers, are among the first to bloom. They’re perfect early bloomers for adding a splash of color to the spring landscape.

What is the earliest blooming tree?

The Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is often the earliest blooming tree, showcasing its delicate flowers in part shade to full sun locations as early as late winter or early spring, depending on the hardiness zone.

What tree flowers before the leaves come out?

The Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) and Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) both flower before their new growth of leaves appears. These trees’ early bloom time provides a dramatic effect in the landscape, signaling the end of a long winter.

What are the pink trees that bloom in spring?

Flowering cherry trees (Prunus serrulata), especially varieties like the Yoshino cherry and Kwanzan cherry, are famous for their showy dark pink flowers in spring. These trees, alongside the Red Leaf Plum, offer breathtaking pink blooms that are a highlight of the season.

What is the earliest blooming cherry tree?

The Yoshino cherry tree (Prunus x yedoensis), a central attraction at many Cherry Blossom Festivals, is among the earliest blooming cherry trees. It typically flowers in early spring, creating a stunning floral display that heralds the season.

Do cherry blossoms bloom in May?

In cooler climates, cherry blossoms can indeed bloom into May, offering a late spring spectacle of delicate flowers. The bloom time may vary, extending the joy of spring flowers a bit longer.

Do cherry blossoms bloom in early March?

In warmer regions or during mild years, cherry blossoms can bloom as early as early March. This early bloom is often seen with the Yoshino cherry tree, which adapts well to a range of growing conditions across North America.

Why do cherry trees bloom so early?

Cherry trees bloom early due to their biological response to increasing daylight and warming soil temperatures, signaling the start of their growing season. This adaptation allows them to make the most of the spring for pollination and new growth.

Next Steps

For more home landscaping tips and resources, look to these articles next: