Native Flowering Trees in North Carolina
Gardeners can successfully grow a variety of flowering trees in the North Carolina. Although some non-native species may perform well in the climate, many of these trees are considered invasive. Planting native flowering trees will help to prevent the spread of these invasive species while still providing a showy seasonal display.
Flowering dogwood, also known as Cornus florida, grows wild throughout North Carolina. This deciduous tree grows to heights of 20 to 40 feet. North Carolina has declared the blossom of the flowering dogwood as the state flower. Nearly horizontal branches spread from the short trunk. In early spring, white flowers bloom, covering much of the tree. In addition to the flowers, clusters of red fruits persist into the winter. The bright green leaves turn red in the fall and the branching silhouette provides fall and winter interest. This woodland understory tree prefers partial shade and well-drained, acidic soil. Amend the soil with organic matter when planting for best results. Water flowering dogwood during extended dry periods.
Red buckeye, or Aesculus pavia, grows native throughout the eastern United States. The branches bear dark green, glossy leaves and reach up 20 feet high. Clusters of bell-shaped red flowers attract hummingbirds and bees during the spring. Red buckeye typically drops its leaves in late summer and will look best if placed near plants with longer-lasting foliage. Provide red buckeye with light shade and protection from hot afternoon sun. It prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil. The seeds are poisonous and should not be consumed.
The multiple trunks and upright branches of Canadian serviceberry, also known as Amelanchier canadensis, form an open crown up to 20 feet tall. White flowers emerge in spring before the leaves appear. Small, red, edible fruits frequently attract birds and can be used for making pies and jams. The green leaves turn orange to red in the fall. Plant Canadian serviceberry in sun or partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.
Catalpa speciosa, commonly known as northern catalpa, features an oval crown and grows 70 to 100 feet tall. Gray to reddish-brown branches teem with clusters of white, bell-shaped flowers in the spring and summer. Yellow stripes and purple spots appear inside the blooms. Long, bean-shaped seedpods follow the flowers. The smooth, heart-shaped leaves grow up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. The leaves often fall from the tree while still green but the branching habit provides winter interest. Northern catalpa produces a considerable amount of litter when it sheds its flowers and leaves. Choose a location in partial shade for northern catalpa. Provide rich, moist soil and water during dry periods. Prune back lower branches of young trees to encourage the growth of a single trunk.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: North Carolina Recommended
- “The Southern Living Garden Book”; Steve Bender; 2004