By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Who doesn’t love the snowflake-like fall of spring cherry petals or the cheery, blazing color of a tulip tree? Flowering trees liven up any space in the garden in a big way and many have the added benefit of producing edible fruit later on. Zone 6 trees flower abound, with many of the most popular blooming trees hardy in that region’s possible -5 degrees Fahrenheit (-21 C.). Let’s take a look at some of the prettiest and hardiest flowering trees for zone 6.
Choosing a tree for the landscape is a big decision, not only due to the size of a tree but because its architectural dimensions will often define that area of the garden. For this reason, picking the correct hardy flowering trees will ensure year after year of gorgeous flowers and a unique microclimate provided by the tree. As you look at your options, also bear in mind the site lighting, drainage, exposure, average moisture, and other cultural factors.
Zone 6 is an interesting zone because it can easily get well below zero in winter but the summers may be hot, long, and dry. Precipitation varies depending on what part of North America your region is located and other considerations need to be looked at when choosing flowering trees for zone 6.
Also, determine what size of tree you want. There are plenty of dwarf fruit trees that can add color to the landscape without the nearly unmanageable height of some species of zone 6 trees that flower. Another thing to contemplate before purchase might be fruiting. Many trees do not produce edible fruits but simply yard debris. Ask yourself how much annual clean up you are willing to do to keep things tidy.
There are many species of blooming trees perfect for a zone 6 landscape. Keeping the profile of a tree low helps with maintenance, fruit harvest, and prevents shading large areas of the garden. Dwarf fruit trees, like cherry and Prairie Fire crabapple, introduce seasonal color both with their flowers, fruits, and fall leaf change.
A dwarf red buckeye will only get 20 feet (6 m.) tall on average and bring its carmine red flowers to decorate the yard from spring well into summer. The dwarf serviceberry-apple hybrid ‘Autumn Brilliance’ bears edible fruit and delicate white blooms at only 25 feet (7.5 m.) in height. A classic smaller tree, the Chinese dogwood has chubby, red ornamental fruits and snowy flower-like bracts, while its cousin the Pagoda dogwood has architectural appeal with graceful tiered branches.
Additional trees to try might include:
For maximum appeal when in bloom, taller species will be the focal point of the garden during their flowering. The larger varieties in the Cornus, or dogwood family, have elegant leaves and bracts in white to blush pink with fruits like Christmas tree ornaments. Tulip trees can become a 100-foot-tall (30.5 m.) monster but are worth every inch with blooms of orange and greenish yellow in a form just like their bulb namesake.
European mountain ash is more moderate in size at 40 feet (12 m.) and the flowers are not very significant, but the cheery, bright orange to red clusters of fruit persist well into winter and make it a standout for many seasons. Not much can compete with the regal saucer magnolia. The blowsy, old-fashioned, pinkish-purple flowers are huge.
You may also want to think about adding:
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Choosing and planting a healthy tree for your yard begins with careful planning. After a little research and a thoughtful layout plan, you can produce a landscape that’s not only attractive, but will cool your home in summer, tame the winter winds, and provide shelter for birds and mammals …
A well-planned yard contains tree species that grow well in the soil conditions and moisture levels of your specific neighborhood. Trees need to be placed properly to avoid collisions with the house, power lines, and other trees …
Consider the following before purchasing a tree:
1. Hardiness zone: Is the tree hardy in Zone 5/6?
2. Height: How big will the tree get at maturity? Will it collide with anything when it is fully grown?
3. Canopy spread: How wide will the tree grow? You need to research not only the height at maturity, but also the spread.
4. Tree shape or form: A columnar tree will grow in less space. Round and V-Shaped species provide the most shade.
5. Growth rate: How fast does the tree grow? How long until it reaches its full height?
6. Moisture, sun, soil requirements: The right tree in the right place is so important for success. See the recommendations below for drought-tolerant and wet-tolerant tree species.
7. Fruit dropping: Some trees can be downright messy. You don’t want a sticky mess on busy sidewalks or falling on your car …
Drought-Tolerant Trees For Zone 5 & 6
If your area constantly deals with drought you will want to consider trees listed as drought-tolerant. These trees are adapted to sites in their native habitat that regularly experience prolonged dry spells …
Remember the first few years of life is critical to the survival of any type of tree. Get them off to a good start for the best chances of success. See the tips below …
Cleveland Pear Tree
Lovely Ginkgo Trees in Fall with Their Golden Fan-Shaped Leaves
On the opposite end of the spectrum if your area deals with a large amount of moisture or wet conditions … here are a few trees that will do better in those conditions:
Swamp White Oak
Autumn Blaze Maple
Shade Trees For Zone 5 & 6: (These beautiful trees will provide a canopy of shade to your yard and can lower a/c costs!)
American Red Maple
Tree Watering Guidelines
Tree watering is an integral part of healthy tree care. It’s difficult to recommend an exact amount due to the different climates and types of trees. Here are a few rules of thumb that can assist you to water your trees properly …
Watering Newly Planted Trees: Most new trees need general watering the first weeks/months they are in your yard. But be careful not to over water …
If you see the tree wilting, and are constantly watering, back off with the water and see how your plant does on its own for awhile. During dry spells, be sure to deeply water your tree (including the surrounding soil) once a week.
Watering Trees During First Two Years: During the first few growing seasons, your newly planted tree expends a lot of energy trying to get its roots established. This can be a stressful time for your young tree…especially during the first few summers.
It may have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought conditions. You can help by providing water during dry times and covering the soil with mulch. Deep watering can also help speed strong roots …
How Much Water & When: Not enough water is harmful for the tree, but too much water is bad as well. Over watering is a common tree and plant care mistake …
Note that moist is different than soggy, and you can determine this by feel. A damp soil that dries for a short period will allow adequate oxygen to permeate the soil.
As a rule of thumb your soil should be moist. You can check soil moisture by using a garden trowel and inserting it into the ground to a depth of 2 inches. Then move the blade of the trowel back and forth to create a small, narrow trench. Use your fingers to touch the soil in the trench. If it is most to the touch, then the soil does not need water …
Watering Trees After the First Two Years: After your tree has been established in your yard for two years, the roots will be established. This will allow your tree to withstand a wider range of water and weather conditions because it has a proper root structure …
Don’t Forget The Mulch!
Mulch is your garden’s best buddy. It holds down grasses and weeds that will compete with your new tree’s roots for water. It also helps the soil retain water …
Additionally, mulch helps the soil from becoming overly compacted and acts as an insulator during the winter months. Create a mulch bed around your tree that is 2-4 inches thick, while encircling your tree with a several foot diameter. (Do not volcano mulch! I see this so often and it really bothers me. More is not better.) Leave a slight area mulch free just where your trunk reaches the ground.
Enjoy The Benefits of Trees
Choose a tree for your Zone 5 / 6 yard carefully. Beforehand, do some research and be sure to plan the layout as noted above …
Select the right type of tree for your location and you will enjoy it for many years to come …
Trees are so beneficial to clean our air, conserve energy, increase property values, provide a habitat for wildlife … the list goes on and on. Plant a tree in your yard and reap the many benefits!
If you have big oak trees or tall pine trees in your landscape, you can still have smaller trees with pretty flowers and showy foliage underneath. In nature, the tall canopy trees may rule the forest, but the sub-canopy trees create the mood.
Perfect Plants offers several kinds of partial shade tolerant trees for the home landscape. Unless your back yard is 100% shade all day and all year, there are many kinds of trees and shrubs to choose from.
Here we present several trees that will thrive in partial shade to mostly shade.
The deciduous saucer magnolias from Asia (Magnolia X soulangiana), such as ‘Ann’ and ‘Alexandrina’ are shade loving trees beneath tall pines or live oaks. Alexandrina flowering magnolia gets up to 25 feet tall Ann magnolia stays smaller, to 15 feet tall. Both have fragrant purple or pink flowers with white interiors and are hardy in USDA zones 4 or 5 through 9. These small trees have excellent fall color and green foliage.
Jane magnolia (Magnolia ‘Jane’) is a compact shrubby little hybrid tree that stays under 10 feet tall. ‘Jane’ has fragrant reddish-purple tulip-shaped flowers, and deciduous leaves. She is hardy in USDA zones 6-9 and makes the perfect street tree to turn heads.
The larger native American evergreen magnolia, M. grandiflora, tolerates shady conditions. ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty‘ and ‘Little Gem’ are a couple cultivars that are especially attractive in shady locations. Bracken’s Brown Beauty flowering magnolia gets 30-40 feet tall and Little Gem Magnolia stays under 25 feet in height and are fast growing trees. Both have large and fragrant showy white flowers. Both are hardy in USDA zones 5-9. Southern magnolias have evergreen leaves that will keep their color all year long. It is uncommon to find a broadleaf evergreen that grows in shade which is what makes the magnolias so special.
Sweet bay magnolia (M. virginiana) grows in shaded locations in zones 6-9. It gets as much as 60 feet tall and does best in moist soils.
Most Popular Shade Trees
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a common understory tree in Eastern North American forests. It gets 20-30 feet tall, sometimes with multiple trunks if not pruned. Redbud blooms in very early spring with rose-purple flowers held close to its branches. The Eastern Redbud prefers medium, well-drained soil and partial sun to partial shade. ‘Forest Pansy’ is a popular cultivar sporting heart shaped leaves that are purplish at first, later turning to dark green leaves. In the fall, these small privacy trees produce orange red fruit.
Several species of dogwoods (genus Cornus) make fine specimens for the shady landscape. Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is one of nature’s finest understory tree species. Perfect Plants has a pink flowered version as well as the typical white flowered dogwood. They get 20-25 feet tall and can be grown in growing zones 5-9. Other shade tolerant dogwoods include the Chinese Tartarian dogwood (C. alba), pagoda dogwood (C. alternifolia), silky dogwood (C. amomum), Cornelian cherry (C. mas), and red-osier dogwood (C. stolonifera). All of the dogwoods stay under 20 feet tall in height and are well adapted to partial shade. This tree flowers in spring and loves small spaces.
Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is typically a deciduous shrub, but Perfect Plants has created a “hydrangea tree” by pruning it to a single-stem standard that gets 8-10 feet tall. Limelight hydrangea has flowers that start out a pale limey green, eventually turning to creamy white blooms. You can grow the Limelight panicle hydrangea tree in semi shady areas in plant hardiness zones 3-8. This flowering shade tree
The Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are popular deciduous trees for partial shade. They are hardy in planting zones 4-8. Several graceful cultivars with colorful leaves are available. Most of these small trees for shaded areas stay under 20 feet in height. Native American maples that thrive in part shade include mountain maple (A. spicatum) and striped maple (A. pensylvanicum). These ornamental trees for shade sure make a lovely statement piece in your yard!
Several species of Holly (genus Ilex) get to tree size and are shade-tolerant plants. American holly (I. opaca), Dahoon holly (I. cassine), and needlepoint holly (Ilex cornuta ‘Needlepoint’) are all good choices for shady spots in plant zones 7-9.
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) thrives in the shade and produces delicious fruits. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, the deciduous pawpaw is an excellent choice for the semi-shady edible landscape.
Crape myrtles are another excellent choice of small trees to plant for shady areas. They will produce bright colorful blooms during the spring and early summer months. Some flowering tree varieties do prefer some sunlight so do your research and choose your planting site wisely. There are dwarf varieties too for small spaces. Some dwarf trees are under 10 feet tall. These fast growing shade trees have a fast growth rate of up to 1-3 feet per year.
American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) and eastern hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) are common North American understory trees that are well suited to the backyard landscape. Both are small deciduous trees that stay under 30 feet tall.
Canadian (or Eastern) hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is an evergreen shade tree that makes a good privacy screen. In nature, the Canadian hemlock can grow tall enough to be part of the canopy, but cultivated specimens normally stay smaller.
A deciduous tree, the weeping willow, is a shade tolerant tree that can be grown as an understory tree.
For a shade tolerant palm tree, consider the windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei). Windmill palms are hardy in zones 8-11, and usually get around 10-15 feet tall but can get up to 25 feet. They are tolerant of light shade.
Shade gardens are a fun way to get creative in your yard and landscape and most of these plants are easy to grow! Smaller shade perennials can even be planted underneath these trees in full shade such as hostas. They will act as a groundcover and cannot tolerate full sun. Shade loving plants are few and far between.
Let us know in the comments if you have questions or other recommendations for shade trees! We would love to hear from you.
Narrow trees like the ones I’m about to introduce you to are perfect for today’s ever-shrinking landscapes. Their slender growth habit means they don’t take up much horizontal space while still giving the beauty only a tree can give. Yes, some of these varieties grow quite tall, but even in the smallest of gardens, the sky is the limit! More often than not, making use of vertical space is the best way to expand a small garden and add another dimension and layer of interest.
Compact gardens and yards can benefit from these narrow trees in many other ways, too. Not only do they add design flair, but many of these trees for small gardens also produce edible berries, cones, and seeds enjoyed by birds and other urban wildlife. Plus, though only one of the trees on this list has showy blooms, even the small, nondescript flowers of the other trees provide pollen and nectar for pollinators. Plus, the leaves of some of them even serve as caterpillar host plants for several species of butterflies.
Photo by: Babetka / Adobe Stock.
SAUCER MAGNOLIA (Magnolia ×soulangeana)
A small multi-trunked deciduous magnolia with large, saucer-like, fragrant blooms in early spring. Flowers are varying shades of pink, emerging before the leaves for a lovely show. There are several cultivars of saucer magnolia, some with yellow fall color.
Height & spread: 20-25 feet high spreads up to 25 feet at maturity, so give it ample space. Grows about 24 inches per year.
Where to plant it: Plant this spring show-stopper where you can see it from several parts of your garden. Blooming at a young age, plant in full sun to filtered light.
Best time to prune*: Just after flowering to avoid removal of flower buds for next year’s bloom. Only light shaping and removal of crossing or dead branches needed.
Photo by: Iva / Adobe Stock.
EASTERN REDBUD (Cercis canadensis)
This harbinger of spring displays lovely pea-like flowers on bare branches, followed by interesting rounded leaves with good fall color. The trunk commonly divides close to the ground, creating an interesting multi-trunk shape. Several named varieties are available, including ‘Tennessee Pink’, ‘Ace of Hearts’, ‘Hearts of Gold’ (with chartreuse foliage), and ‘Merlot’ (purple foliage).
Height: 20-30 feet
Where to plant it: Full sun in well-drained soil partial sun in hot climates. Plant as young specimens this is a tree that does not transplant easily.
Best time to prune*: Structural prune the first winter to determine form, then prune just after bloom thereafter.
WEEPING EXTRAORDINAIRE™ FLOWERING CHERRY (Prunus ×'Extrazam')
Fluffy double powderpuff pink flowers cover branches before coppery leaves emerge. Glossy green leaves turn burgundy red in fall. Useful weeping form for specimen.
Height & spread: 15-20 feet high spreads to about 15 to 20 feet.
Where to plant it: Plant in full sun. Needs good drainage and consistent moisture.
Best time to prune*: Winter or just after flowering only light shaping and removal of crossing or dead branches needed.
PINK TRUMPET (Handroanthus heptaphyllus)
Very showy pink trumpet-shaped flowers with an orange-yellow throat fruit is a long capsule. Useful as a specimen or street tree.
Height & spread: 20-30 feet upright and spreading habit to 15-25 feet across.
Where to plant it: Plant in full sun needs well-drained soil..
Best time to prune*: Winter only light shaping and removal of crossing or dead branches needed.
Tiny backyards are no match for these showstoppers.
Trees come in all sizes, from towering oaks to small fruit trees you can grow on your patio fruit trees you can grow on your patio. And if you're looking for something justttt right for a small yard, the choices may seem endless. To pick the perfect species for your garden, first measure out exactly how much space you have.
"A good rule is to plant a tree away from the house at a distance equal to one-half of the maximum tree height," says Kate Karam, a landscape architect with Monrovia. "For a 20-foot tree [at maturity], plant no less than 10 feet from the house. Tree roots can grow beyond the canopy of a tree, so a bit of wiggle room is a very good idea."
When selecting a tree for a small space, consider ornamental trees, which are often slower growing, as well as trees that come in dwarf varieties, advises Missy Henriksen, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
Different species can suit different needs — shade, privacy, color — depending on the shape of the tree and its canopy, not to mention potential maintenance. Pretty fall foliage can also mean more raking is in your future! These nine species — including crowd-pleasers like dogwoods, crepe myrtle, and crabapples — picked by landscape professionals offer the best of the best when it comes to beauty, size, shade, privacy, and hardiness. Find out if they'll grow in your garden by checking the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map here.