Gardens across the United States greet the return of spring with fragrant, abundantly blooming trees. Familiar trees that flower early in the year include dogwoods, redbuds, crabapples and a host of other fruit trees. When those trees finish blooming, however, gardeners can still enjoy trees that flower. Several flowering tree varieties pick up where spring bloomers leave off, filling summer and even autumn landscapes with clouds of floral color and perfume.
Mexican olive (Cordia boissieri) grows up to 30 feet high. Found wild on the prairies, slopes and roadsides of southern Texas, Mexican olive needs mild winters. In the right conditions, these trees flower all year long. They have oval, gray-green leaves. Their white, yellow-throated blooms are trumpet-shaped and up to 2 inches across. Butterflies feed on their nectar. Sweet purple fruit follows the flowers, providing food for birds and deer.
Drought-tolerant Mexican olive is at its peak in late spring and early summer. Plant in sun to part shade and alkaline soil gravel, sand, loam or clay soil. Water trees regularly while they establish. They will survive on rainfall after that.
Purple Orchid Tree
Purple orchid tree (Bauhinia purpurea) grows rapidly to its 35-foot height and width. Hardy to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9b), purple orchid tree has multiple slender trunks and arching branches. Between September and November, it has profuse, very fragrant flowers. Their red, blue and purple petals create an orchid-like appearance. The tree's one drawback is its crop of flat brown seedpods. They can be very messy when they drop from the branches in spring. Use orchid tree as a lawn or patio planting. Plant it in full sun and dry well-drained soil. Prune when young to establish its shape.
Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia) is a tree for all seasons. Standing up to 40 feet high and 30 feet wide, it has a straight low-branching trunk. The outer bark peels away to reveal a range of colored barks underneath. Bare winter branches make an attractive garden profile. The yellow flowers resemble camellias. Green leaves become purple, red, and yellow in autumn. Disease-and-pest-resistant Japanese stewartia is hardy to USDA zone 5b with a minimum temperature of minus 10 degrees. For best performance, plant it in moist, acidic soil high in organic material.