We wait all year for their riot of flowers. These landscaping plants give us colorful blossoms, invigorating fragrance, lush leaves, and sometimes fruit and dazzling fall colors. Here are the best spring-flowering trees and shrubs for the Midwest!
Except for pruning, these landscaping plants require little maintenance and generally flourish whether we help them or not, even here in the Midwest.
At home in the woodlands of the Midwest, Eastern Redbuds reach the northern edge of their natural range in Illinois. True to their name, they display vibrant fuchsia flowers in early spring before leafing out into a canopy of green leaves. Small in size, they make ideal landscaping plants for any size of yard. The flowers are edible too!
Another native of the Midwest, serviceberries have lived in Illinois for thousands of years and play an important role in many native American cultures. They bloom with clusters of white flowers in the spring and produce delicious dark blue or purple berries at the beginning of summer. Cousins of the blueberry, serviceberries are sweet and incredibly nutritious. If you want a taste of the prairies in addition to spring blossoms, this is the landscaping plant for you.
The Flowering Quince unfurls peach-pink blossoms along their branches in the spring. The flowers can also be red or dark pink, depending on the variety. As a member of the rose family, the flowers have the velvety texture and cup shape of a rose but are smaller in size. Many popular varieties don’t bear fruit, sparing you a mess in the fall and don’t bear thorns either. Plus, these landscaping plants are hardy and reach 4-5’ in height with a 3-4’ spread.
Speaking of tart fruit, the crabapple is another spring bloomer to delight your eyes. Bred specifically for their flowers, many crabapple varieties offer the most extravagant flowers of all the landscaping plants around. The branches are often completely covered in pink or white petals. The size of these small trees varies, depending on the variety.
While crabapples impress with their sheer volume of flowers and serviceberries give you a special Midwest flavor, azaleas will inspire you with timeless style and grace. Like the rose, azaleas are so adored that gardeners have bred their flowers into dozens of colors, including white, red, pink and fuschia purple. They all share a common feature of large, ruffled, and abundant blossoms, no matter the variety. They’re a good landscaping plant for garden borders or anywhere you’d like a wave of spring color.
These landscaping shrubs are prized for their profusion of small white blossoms that open before their leaves. During the summer, they make a great privacy screen before impressing you again with scarlet fall leaves. Like the serviceberry and Eastern Redbud, they’re native to the Midwest and quite at home in our climate.
Forsythias are always one of the first landscaping plants to blossom each year. Just when you thought we’d be stuck in the pre-spring brown of the Midwest forever, they suddenly burst into a riot of yellow flowers. These blossoms are small and often cover the shrub completely. Once the show is over, they grow a cover of lush leaves that make a good privacy screen and protective shelter for sparrows or chickadees.
It would be hard to talk about spring-flowering shrubs without mentioning the lilac. Their fragrant blossoms are the scent of spring itself, and their lavender, pink, white or indigo color is always a cherished gift of the season. Though originating in Eastern Europe, they thrive here in the Midwest. Plus, they’re a versatile landscaping plant, suitable as a natural-looking hedge, a privacy screen that reaches above your fence, or even as an archway over your gate, making a beautiful entrance into your backyard Eden.
When you plant a spring-flowering tree or shrub in your yard, you weave another layer of color into your landscape and add something to look forward to each year. Except for pruning, these landscaping plants require little maintenance and generally flourish whether we help them or not, even here in the Midwest.
If you’re looking to plant new flowering trees and shrubs in your yard, visit our garden centers this spring!
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.