Spring Blooming Small Trees

Magnolia x soulangiana close up in spring at Reiman Gardens

This time of year, some of the most beautiful displays of flowers can be found on small trees. Natives to woodland understories, small flowering trees are perfect for the home garden since they seldom top 25 feet. They also tolerate a wide range of light levels, from partial shade to full sun, and many appreciate a well drained fertile soil. Below are just a few spring flowering small trees.

Crabapples (Malus) This enormous group includes hundreds of trees great for Iowa gardens. Just be sure to select a cultivar resistant to common diseases like apple scab.

Redbud (Cercis canadensis) Wonderful small lavender flowers of this Iowa native appear before leaves emerge in spring.

Magnolia (Magnolia) Very showy, large flowers in white, pinks and sometimes pale yellow in early spring.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier) Tiny white flowers on single and multi-stemmed plants. Birds love the fruit.

Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) Hanging clusters of white blooms in mid to late May.

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) In early spring, these small, reddish purple flowers have to be appreciated up close.

Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) This Asian relative to the native flowering dogwood (C. florida) is a little more cold-hardy and develops beautiful ornamental bark with age.

Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) Bright yellow clusters of flowers are some of the first to appear in very early spring.

Red horse chestnust (Aesculus × carnea) Showy, bright red flowers in upright clusters in May.

Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina) Branches are covered in white bell-shaped flowers in late April, early May.

— Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs