Flowering trees are common in the woodlands, mountains and swamps of Virginia, and many of these trees grow well in the home landscape. Flowering trees not only provide attractive spring or summer blooms, they also often feature interesting fall color and winter silhouettes. Planting native flowering trees in Virginia often requires little maintenance, because they have adapted to the conditions and climate of the region.
Flowering dogwood, or Cornus florida, features a horizontal branching habit, forming a rounded crown that can reach up to 30 feet tall. The deciduous medium green leaves appear lighter underneath and turn red in the fall. In spring, before the leaves emerge, the tree teems with small yellow flowers, each surrounded by four showy white bracts. Bright red fruits hang in clusters from the tips of the branches in summer. Flowering dogwood is the state tree of Virginia and grows wild in woodlands throughout the eastern United States. Plant this dogwood in deep, acidic, well-drained soil and partial shade. It grows best in moist soil and requires regular water during periods of drought. Overly dry conditions may lead to dogwood blight, which can kill the tree in severe cases. Prune as desired in fall after the leaves have fallen.
The bright pink flowers of Cercis canadensis, commonly known as eastern redbud, line the branches of the tree, adding vibrant color to the landscape in early spring. The horizontal, tiered branches feature exfoliating brown bark and provide winter interest. After flowering, 3- to 4-inch long, drooping light green leaves appear and turn yellow before drooping from the tree in fall. Eastern redbud tolerates a variety of soil types, but prefers moist, rich soil. In dry areas, provide regular water to reduce stress and attacks by canker fungus, which causes sunken areas on the trunk. Plant this flowering tree in full sun or light shade and fertilize once a year in the spring to encourage healthy growth.
Fringetree, or Chionanthus virginicus, grows up to 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Young trees have an orderly, alternate branching habit that forms a pyramidal shape. As the tree matures, the branches begin to arch toward the ground, creating a more irregular, open form. In spring, clusters of delicate white flowers with drooping petals bloom among the shiny, dark green leaves. If you plant both male and female trees, the female trees will produce dark blue, olive-shaped fruits in summer. Native to rich, moist woods and swamp margins in Virginia, fringetree grows best in full sun or light shade. It tolerates both wet and moderately dry conditions, but enjoys moist, rich soil and regular water during dry periods.