Spring Blooming Trees for Arkansas
We are lucky to have several different kinds of spring blooming trees that do well here in Arkansas, some of which are even native to our area! If you look around your landscape this spring and see not a bloom in sight, you might consider adding one of these trees…
Ornamental cherries are available in different forms; some trees are upright shade trees while other cherries have a weeping form. They bloom in a range of white to pink and vary from small simple petals to fluffy, double flowers. The Kwanzan variety is notable for its small pom pom styled pink flowers and profuse blooms. Snow Fountain is a very popular weeping cherry with, you guessed it, white blooms! Yoshino cherries have a similar shape to Kwansan, but have very pale pink to white blooms. We also carry Okame cherry trees; these are a darker pink than Kwansan, feature a simpler bloom structure and have a smaller mature tree size than Kwansan. For current ornamental cherry inventory, click here.
The dogwood (pictured above) is the most recognized tree in the spring, and is native to Arkansas! Dogwood trees are best known for the eye-catching display of blooms in the spring, which arrive before the foliage. The blooms are actually yellowish-green flowers surrounded by larger, bright cream (or shades of pink) colored bracts, which are usually thought of as the flower. Clusters of bright red fruits mature in the fall and persist into winter; birds love this plant! Dogwoods display bright red and orange fall foliage color. This native tree is a woodland garden favorite; its natural environment is as a small to medium understory tree, which means it prefers to grow under the cover of larger trees. In our area, this tree needs some afternoon shade to protect it from the hot sun. Plant in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil, preferably neutral to acidic in pH. Dogwoods are good specimen trees also and feature a loose, layered growth habit. The wood is extremely hard and is used to make tool handles. Bloom color and mature size are variety specific. For current dogwood inventory, click here.
Redbud trees, specifically the Eastern redbud, is native to eastern and central United States. The bloom clusters are both eye-catching and distinctive and give way to seed pods later in the season. A native tree that grows all over Arkansas, redbuds typically feature a purple bloom along the stems before leafing out. There are now varieties that have pink or even white blooms. Redbuds come in a wide variety of tree forms from upright canopy trees to weeping specimens. In the wild, redbuds, much like dogwood trees, are understory trees and in landscapes, most traditional types do best with afternoon shade. There are many cultivars of redbud to choose from, which each featuring its own mature size, bloom color and leaf color. Many cultivars are grown as multi-trunk trees, which form a handsome, spreading and often flat-topped crown. Plant form does vary, including those with a weeping growth habit. Plant in moderately fertile soil, and provide regular and consistent moisture. Avoid wet or poorly drained soil. One redbud we are especially excited about is Flame Thrower, which has showy burgundy leaves that fade to yellow and mature green. For current redbud inventory, click here.
While many people are familiar with southern magnolia varieties, deciduous magnolias often get overlooked. They are some of the showiest trees in the spring and include the popular pinkish-purple blooming Jane magnolia and relatives. Jane magnolias are often referred to as a tulip trees (not to be confused with the ‘real’ tulip tree, a large growing shade in the Liriodendron genus) and in general, deciduous magnolias are often referred to as saucer magnolias. Another prolific spring blooming magnolia is the Star magnolia, a smaller growing small tree, with bright white blooms. Lastly the Black Tulip magnolia blooms with a deep purple and burgundy flower. Mature plant size varies so pick the right magnolia for your space as they are difficult to transplant. Plant in rich, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil. This link to will take you to our entire magnolia inventory. Keep in mind that not all magnolias are spring bloomers.
The Japanese snowbell is one of the last trees to bloom in the spring. They often have leaves developing on them while blooming, usually around mid-April. Japanese snowbell trees are small, deciduous trees or large shrubs with perfect white or pink bell-shaped flowers that gracefully droop down along branches in the spring. We carry single or multi-trunk tree types that are upright and pyramidal in shape, with horizontal side branches. We also have weeping snowbells. Dark green leaves turn yellow in the fall before dropping. Plant in well-drained, acidic soil. One variety we are especially excited about is Evening Light; we love it for its purple-maroon new leaves that fade to a green-maroon color AND the small oval mature plant size (15 feet tall and 10 feet wide). For current Japanese snowbell inventory, click here.
Ornamental plum trees have much to offer the landscape; they are small, blooming deciduous trees, and several varieties have purple leaves. Although these trees are planted for the pinkish-purple blooms or the reddish-purple leaves, they do produce small red fruits, which attract birds. Flowering is in the early spring, harkening the arrival of the season. Plums do best planted in full to part sun, in an area with well-draining acidic soil. Drainage is key; they will not do well in poorly drained areas and in fact, are moderately drought tolerant once established. Although they prefer acidic soil, they also tolerate alkaline and clay soils. Mature size, bloom color, and leaf color are variety specific. For current ornamental plum inventory information, please click here.
A tree native to Arkansas, serviceberry produces small white flowers around April each spring. We carry Autumn Brilliance serviceberry, which is a nativar, or improved variety of a native. This particular variety is a cross between downy serviceberry which is native to our area and another serviceberry native to North America. Autumn Brilliance features brilliant fall color of orange and red. Mature size is 15 to 25 foot tall and wide. As with several other native spring blooming trees, this is an understory tree, for part sun to sun areas.