Purchase trees in bloom to find your favorite flower shapes and colors.
Plant in full sun or part shade in an area that's shielded from hot, dry winds. Protect shallow roots by positioning trees away from foot traffic and areas where frequent digging occurs, and keep the area covered with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch.
Water deeply and regularly, and bait for snails and slugs. If leaves turn yellow between veins, apply iron chelate.
Also known as tulip trees, these form 3- to 6-inch-wide, tulip-shaped flowers.
• M. denudata (yulan magnolia). Fragrant white blooms. To 35 feet tall. Zones 3b-9, 14-24.
• M. liliiflora. 'Galaxy' hybrid has red-purple flowers and grows to 40 feet tall. The so-called "Little Girl" hybrids ('Susan', 'Pinkie', and six hybrid cousins in shades of pink to deep purple) grow to 12 feet tall. Zones 2b-9, 14-24.
• M. x soulangeana 'Black Tulip'. Deep burgundy flowers. Narrow, upright tree: 30 feet tall, 15 feet wide. Zones 2b-10, 14-24.
• M. sprengeri 'Eric Savill'. Fragrant, deep red-purple flowers. To 30 feet tall, 20 feet wide. Zones 5-9, 14-24.
Produce 3- to 6-inch-wide blooms with multiple layers of tepals (petals) that look like starbursts and are often fragrant. Zones 2b-9, 14-24.
• M. x loebneri 'Merrill'. White flowers. Can reach 25 to 35 feet tall and wide.
• M. stellata. Choice varieties include 'Centennial' (white with pink markings), 'Royal Star' (pink buds open white), and 'Waterlily' (light pink buds open white). Multitrunked trees 10 to 20 feet tall.
• M. 'Wada's Memory'. White flowers up to 7 inches wide. Coppery red new foliage. 30 feet tall.
BLOOMING FRUIT TREES
Plant in full sun and well-drained soil; water regularly through the growing season. Prune to shape and to stimulate new wood.
Flowering cherries ( Prunus)
Bloom best with some winter chill. Sunset climate zones 2-7, 14-20.
• P. serrulata. 'Kwanzan' has double pink flowers and grows 30 feet tall by 20 feet wide. 'Pink Cloud' has single pink flowers and reaches 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. 'Royal Burgundy' sports double magenta flowers and dark purple leaves all season and grows 30 feet tall by 20 feet wide.
• P. x subhirtella 'Pendula'. Weeping cherry with pink flowers. 10 to 12 feet tall and wide.
• P. x yedoensis (Yoshino flowering cherry). Single light pink to nearly white flowers. 40 feet tall by 30 feet wide.
Flowering crabapples ( Malus)
Prone to the same diseases as fruiting apples, so shop for disease-resistant varieties. Zones 1-11, 14-21.
• M. floribunda. Deep pink buds open to fragrant pinkish white flowers.
• M. 'Prairifire'. Red-purple flowers and small maroon fruit. 20 feet tall and wide.
• M. toringo sargentii 'Tina'. Deep pink buds that open to single white flowers. 4 to 6 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide.
• M. x zumi calocarpa. Fragrant single flowers bloom pale pink and fade to white. 15 feet tall and wide.
Flowering peaches ( Prunus persica)
Most successful in Southern California and other dry climates, where diseases such as peach leaf curl are less severe. A few fruiting types also put on a great flower show.
• 'Early Double Pink'. Bright pink blooms. 20 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-24.
• 'Early Double Red'. Purplish red double flowers. 20 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-24.
• 'Red Baron'. Double red blooms as well as tasty fruit. 8 to 14 feet tall. Zones 7-9, 14-16, 18-23.
Plant in full sun, and water deeply only occasionally once established. Prune to shape and to thin out growth (watch for thorns).
Compact spreaders to uprights
Sunset climate zones 2-23.
• 'Cameo'. Soft apricot pink flowers; nearly thornless. 3 feet tall by 5 feet wide.
• 'Texas Scarlet'. Glossy green foliage, only a few thorns, and bright red flowers. 3 feet tall by 5 feet wide.
• 'Toyo-Nishiki'. Blooms in shades of pale pink, red, and white. 6 feet tall and wide.
Choose a site in full sun (plant in the high-filtered shade of a large tree in hot inland areas) with well-drained soil.
Water regularly after planting, then cut back on watering as tree becomes established. Cover the root zone with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch.
Anthracnose, a fungal disease that causes leaf damage and decline or death in susceptible trees, can be a serious problem in the Northwest; plant anthracnose-resistant species or varieties, and place trees in areas that get plenty of sun and air circulation.
Dogwoods thrive in climates that get at least some winter chill; they're excellent as single specimens, and they combine easily with perennials in a mixed border.
Multitrunk shrubs to stately trees
• Cornelian cherry ( Cornus mas). Soft yellow wintertime flowers are small but prolific and long lasting. Anthracnose-resistant. 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. Zones 1-6.
• Eastern dogwood ( Cornus florida). Many varieties. 'Cherokee Daybreak' has variegated foliage; 'Cherokee Chief' sports rosy red bracts. Zones 2b-9, 14-16. Also the parent of many hybrids, including exceptional C. 'Eddie's White Wonder' (zones 3-9, 14-20) and anthracnose-resistant white 'Constellation' and 'Stellar Pink' (both in zones 3-9, 14-17). To 20 feet tall.• Kousa dogwood ( Cornus kousa chinensis).
• Pacific dogwood ( Cornus nuttallii). Stunning native tree to 50 feet tall. Highly susceptible to anthracnose. Give infrequent summer water once established. Named varieties ('Goldspot' and the hybrid 'Starlight') tolerate garden conditions better. Zones 3b-9, 14-20.