Pennsylvania is a state with different climate zones due to the different topography of the landscape.
There are five distinct regions in PA, each of which contains a wealth of different natural wonders. From mountain ridges to coastal plains, PA offers residents the opportunity to grow many different species of trees, depending on where in the state you are.
PA experiences all four seasons; from cold winters, fall colors, blooming springs, and hot and humid summers.
If you’re after flowering trees, there are numerous different options for you to consider before you commit to planting one.
Read on for information about which flowering tree might be right for you to plant in your yard in PA.
17 Flowering Trees To Grow In Pennsylvania
The chaste tree blooms from late spring to early fall, with long and spiky, white, pink, and lilac/lavender flowers. One of the benefits of the chaste tree is the length of time it blooms. The flowers also attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Not only does it have a long flowering period, but they’re also pleasantly fragrant.
Even the foliage is fragrant on this central Asian and southern European native. The leaves are separated into 5 or 7 narrow leaflets. Chaste trees need very well-drained soil. They also do well in xeric gardens, and once established will likely not need any water.
Chaste trees can die back to the root during extreme weather, but they will resprout from the ground.
Other Common Names: lilac chaste tree, chaste berry, monk’s pepper tree, wild lavender
Growing Zones: 6-9
Average Size at Maturity: 8-20 ft tall and up to 20ft wide.
Varieties Suitable for Pennsylvania: Shoal Creek (Grows 4-15 ft tall and 4-12 ft wide.)
Flowering Season: Late spring until early fall.
Purple prince crabapple is a prolific bloomer that requires little in the way of maintenance. Bred in Ohio, Purple Prince is a small-sized, rounded, and rapidly growing tree that has upward-spreading branches. Ovate, purple-bronze foliage turns green upon maturity, then golden in the fall. The flowers appear mid-spring and are singular and rosy-red. The fruit is purple and adds fall and winter interest.
Crabapples provide interest in all the seasons, and as PA experiences all the seasons, the crabapple is sure to keep your interest piqued throughout the year. Songbirds love the fruit, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning up if that’s a concern for you. Purple prince crabapples are more disease-resistant than other varieties of crabapples.
Purple Prince apples grow best in medium-moist loams that are slightly acidic. They aren’t drought tolerant.
Other Common Names: crab apple
Growing Zones: 4-8
Average Size at Maturity: 16-18 ft tall and 15-18 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Mid-spring.
Star magnolia are beautiful, flowering, ornamental pest-free trees suitable for many parts of PA. The flowers are showy and fragrant and the foliage has a deep and dark hue to it. These Japanese natives have long, oblong leaves, and large white, star-shaped blossoms that appear on the naked branches. Each flower contains 25-30 elongated petals inside, meeting at the pale yellow center.
Star magnolias have an oval crown and grow well in full sun to partial shade. They’re a superb option for gardeners who are looking to add some spring interest to their landscape.
Other Common Names: Star Magnolia
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Early spring – Mid-to-late March.
Ornamental pears are natives of China and Vietnam. They are fast-growing flowering trees with straight, narrow, and upright crowns. Pure white blossoms appear on the upright branches in clusters in the spring.
The foliage is ovate, and dark green, turning shades of plum, orange, red, and a subdued golden-yellow in the fall. Ornamental pears grow well in organically rich, sufficiently moist, slightly alkaline loams in full sun. They’re also drought-tolerant but are more susceptible to wind damage than trees that have a more spreading branch pattern.
Planted en masse, ornamental pears can create a wonderful effect, should you have the space to do so. Gardeners with smaller yards can also benefit from this tree by planting it as a singular specimen tree.
Other Common Names: Callery pear
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 20-40 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Early spring.
Cornelian cherry dogwood is one of the first trees to flower in the spring in PA. They are small, deciduous trees native to Southern Europe, Western Asia, have dark green, elliptic/ovate dense foliage, and can be trained into a small tree or large shrub.
Small, yellow flowers appear on upright stalks that are enclosed in yellow, petal-shaped bracts. Cornelian cherries thrive in moist soil that’s rich in organic matter. They can be grown in urban conditions, and do well grown in groups or as a specimen on their own, near patios, or even as a hedge.
The small yellow flowers emerge before the leaves, with clean-green foliage in the summer, followed by small ruby-red fruit, which ripens in July.
Other Common Names: Cornelian cherry, European cornel, cherry dogwood.
Growing Zones: 5-8A
Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 ft tall, and 12-18 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring
The Japanese Stewartia is native to the mountainous regions of Japan and the Korean peninsula. It’s a slow-growing, small-sized deciduous tree with a narrow, pyramidal crown. The foliage is dark green and elliptical. The flowers are small, white, and saucer-shaped with yellow/orange anthers that resemble camellias, hence the name.
The foliage transforms into an enthralling burgundy, orange/red in the fall. Japanese Stewartia can be grown in well drained-sandy loam, in full sun or partial shade. It prefers organically rich, evenly moist, and slightly acidic soil.
Other Common Names: Korean Stewartia, deciduous camellia,
Growing Zones: 5-8
Average Size at Maturity: 20-40 ft tall and 25-30 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Late summer, fall.
Seven-son flower tree is native to China and is a deciduous shrub that can be grown as a small tree. They’re a member of the honeysuckle family, but are not vines, but rather have a fountain-shaped crown. It remains relatively unknown to many gardeners, so if you’re looking for a unique flowering tree to add to your yard in PA, then this could be a good choice for you.
They produce clusters of seven-branched, cream-white blossoms. Each branch holds six blooms, which later give way to small, purple/red fruit. The foliage is typically ovate/oblong, shiny, and slender, with a medium-green hue to them. Seven-son flowers thrive in sufficiently moist conditions, in well-drained soil in full sun, in sandy or loamy soils.
Other Common Names: Crape myrtle of the north, autumn lilac, seven son plant.
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 18-25 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide
Flowering Season: August to September.
Red Buckeye’s produce springtime spectacles of deep red flowers. The name ‘buckeye,’ comes from the whitish spot found on each of the brown seeds, said to resemble the eye of a deer. They are small-sized, clump-forming trees, with a round, irregular crown.
The blossoms of the red buckeye are erect and appear in clusters (panicles), and are narrow, tubular, and red-orange. They give way to smooth globular seed pods. The compound foliage is dark green and shiny. They are slow-to medium growing trees; you can expect growth of between 12-24” a year.
The red buckeye can be grown as a single or multitrunked tree, or a shrub, depending on how you choose to prune. The leaves are made up of 5-7 leaflets, that hang down handsomely. The leaves also unfurl earlier than many other trees, adding early spring interest to your yard.
Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the red blossom, and fox squirrels are fond of the buckeyes.
Other Common Names: Scarlet Buckeye, Firecracker Plant.
Growing Zones: 6-9.
Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide.
Flowering Season: April- May.
Hawthorn is a genus of some 380 species of mostly deciduous, medium sized-trees or shrubs, with lobed and toothed foliage. They’re native to temperate regions of North Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. Hawthorns have an upright and spreading crown. Their flowers resemble apple blossoms, and are either white or pink, with five petals, and are delicately scented. These give way to edible pomes, that entice songbirds and are sometimes used to make wine or jelly.
Some varieties of hawthorn give good fall colors, whilst others are semi-evergreen. They’re easily propagated by seeds in the spring, or some cultivars can be budding in the late summer.
Hawthorns thrive in a variety of soil types, are drought-tolerant, and also handle coastal areas well.
Other Common Names: May tree, thornapple, whitethorn, thorn berry, mayflower.
Growing Zones: 3-9
Average Size at Maturity: 15-50 ft tall and 8-35 ft wide, depending on the variety.
Varieties Suitable for Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Hawthorn – Crataegus tatnalliana
Flowering Season: Mid-to-late spring.
The common crape myrtle is a small to medium, dense, often multi-stemmed deciduous shrub or tree. Often considered a southern species, cold-hardy crape myrtles are making their way to South Central PA. The pink flowers are encased in wrinkled petals reminiscent of crepe paper. The foliage is dark green, changing in the fall to all kinds of yellows, reds, and oranges. It does well in hot locations and will flower when many other species have stopped for the season.
The grey bark exfoliates to expose a smooth, underbark of various shades of brown and grey. The crape myrtle will tolerate drought and confined spaces once mature but will need to be kept moist whilst young. New growth can be pinched during the growing season to increase bushiness and flower production.
As the crape myrtle grows, the branches will begin to droop. Many gardeners like to thin out these branches to show off the unusual trunk of this tree, although bear in mind that pruning will reduce cold hardiness.
Other Common Names: crapemyrtle, the lilac of the South
Growing Zones: 6-9
Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 tall and 6-15 wide.
Flowering Season: Flowering often begins mid-May to early June, and lasts 90-120 days.
Black cherry is a native of the Northeastern United States. They are found on the Allegheny Plateau of Pennsylvania, as well as in New York and West Virginia. You can also find smaller quantities of black cherry along the southern Appalachian Mountains, and the uplands of the Gulf Coastal Plain.
Unlike many domestic cherries which flower before leaf development, black cherry flowers late relative to leaf development. The flowers are white are located in drooping racemes. It’s a deciduous tree with a particularly conical shape when young, that then becomes more oval as it matures and the branches spread, when it takes on more of a hanging and arching appearance.
The deep dark red color of the fruit changes to black from August to October. Fall sees the foliage turn yellow. It’s the most useful of all the native cherries, with the edible fruit that’s used for cooking and beverages. The wood is used for furniture and musical instruments.
Black cherries grow very fast in the seedling, sapling, and pole stages of their development, so may be a good choice if you want something showy quickly for your yard. They tend to yield heavily every other year.
Other Common Names: Wild black cherry, rum cherry.
Growing Zones: 2-8
Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 ft tall and 30-50 ft wide.
Flowering Season: May 15- 20 typically in PA.
Also known as the cigar tree due to its narrow brown flat seed pods, the Southern Catalpa is native to streams and wet banks of Pennsylvania. The heart-shaped leaves are pale-green and can be up to 12 inches long. They hang off crooked branches, which grow somewhat at random. The crown can be low, making the tree appear to have a very short trunk.
The Southern Catalpa puts on a terrific spring show, with its large cluster of 2-inch lobed, fragrant flowers. The blooms are white and trumpet-shaped and have intriguing purple and yellow interior markings. If you’re looking for something with a different aesthetic for your PA garden, then this could be a good fit. They do best in damp soils, in full sun or partial shade.
Other Common Names: Cigar tree, Indian bean tree.
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 30-60 ft tall, and 20-40 wide.
Flowering Season: Late spring to early summer.
13. Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
The fringe tree is a small-sized, deciduous flowering tree native to the Eastern United States. They feature spear-shaped leaves, and a spreading, rounded crown. The tree produces creamy-white, fragrant, drooping, fringe-shaped blooms that later give way to black olive-like fruit.
Fall sees gorgeous yellow foliage. It grows well in full sun to partial shade, with the best foliage in partial shade and best flowering in full sun.
They can be planted in rich, well-drained average to alkaline soil. They are tolerant of a bit of drought and are best transplanted when young. Once established, they need little in the way of pruning. The blue-black fruit mature in late summer and are a source of food for butterflies and other wildlife.
The fringe tree provides seasonal interest throughout the year, from the spring-time flowering, the attractive fruit in late summer, and the yellow fall color. The scaly, dark brown ridges and red furrows of the bark provide interest in winter. The fringe tree is suited for small yards as it doesn’t grow too big.
Other Common Names: Old man’s beard, Snowflower.
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 12-20 ft tall and 12-20 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Late spring.
The autumn-flowering cherry is a hybrid tree prized for its profuse blooming. It provides seasonal interest throughout the year. It’s also known to flower sporadically throughout the year, even in the warmer days of fall.
The flowers are semi-double, with 10 petals, and change color from bud to full-bloom. In bud, they’re deep pink, pale pink when opening, then turning almost white as they mature. Pea-sized black fruits follow in the summer. The autumn flowering cherry also sports good fall color, and an attractive bark for visual interest in the winter months.
It’s also more heat and cold-tolerant than many other ornamental cherries, making it a great choice for many yards. Flowering cherries need full sun and good air circulation to avoid pests. They need moist, relatively fertile, well-draining soil.
Other Common Names: Higan cherry.
Growing Zones: 6-8
Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall, and 15-30 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Late fall to early spring.
The Royal Empress tree is an impressive tree by all accounts. It’s a deciduous, extremely fast-growing tree that provides both shade and flowers. It can grow up to a staggering 15 feet a year until reaching its peak of 50 feet after around 10 years. It’s considered one of the fastest-growing trees in the world.
The leaves are large, soft, and have a velvet-like appearance, much like the Southern Catalpa above. The flowers emerge on second-year wood and have a pink-purple appearance and an aroma reminiscent of vanilla.
However, the downside of the Royal Empress tree is considered invasive in some areas, and it tends to shade out and out-compete any other species that grow underneath or around it. Royal Empress trees can absorb up to 48 pounds (22 kg.) of carbon dioxide a day through their huge leaves that suck pollutants and toxins out of the air. It’s a hardwood species that is used for lumber in some countries. Their roots are non-invasive and they are drought tolerant.
They can be near impossible to remove once established and mature trees can produce up to 20 million seeds a year. So think carefully before planting Paulownia in your area.
Other Common Names: Princess tree, empress tree, foxglove tree.
Growing Zones: 5-8
Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide.
Flowering Season: April.
The flowering dogwood is a medium-sized, spring-flowering Pennsylvania native. Commonly planted as an ornamental in residential and public areas, the many cultivars of dogwood mean there’s a variety suited for almost every yard.
Dogwoods provide dark green summer color, red fall foliage, and have a pleasing shape that provides winter interest. Dogwoods are suited to a wide range of climates and soil types. Flowering dogwoods produce small red berries that are attractive to wildlife, which gives you yet another reason to plant the versatile flowering dogwood in your yard.
Other Common Names: Flowering dogwood.
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 10-15 ft tall
Varieties Suitable for Pennsylvania: Cloud 9.
Flowering Season: April – May.
The golden rain tree is a gorgeous flowering tree that, when fully grown can also provide shade. It’s a flamboyant tree whose flowers hang in loose panicles of golden flowers in the early summer, later giving way to beautiful fall color. It’s adaptable to many conditions but will flower best in full sun. The golden rain tree is also suitable for smaller yards.
The foliage is emerald green on maturity, after emerging a shade of burgundy in the spring. The compound, serrated leaves turn a golden color in the fall. The golden rain tree has winter value, long after the gold has faded, in the silver hue of its furrowed bark.
The golden rain tree is a dense deciduous tree with a round shape, adding both form and accent to the landscape. It’s adapted to both dry and moist conditions, making it easy to cultivate for the average home gardener. It’s also drought and pollution resistant, making it suitable for urban environments.
Other Common Names: Pride of India, Varnish tree.
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 ft tall and up to 35 ft wide.
Flowering Season: Early summer.
The topographical discrepancies of the state of Pennsylvania, mean that there are a plethora of flowering trees for the home gardener to choose from.
Whether you’re in the colder areas of zone 5 or the balmier parts of zone 7, there’s bound to be a species suitable for your particular climate, soil aesthetic preferences, and requirements.
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Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn’t hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.