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24 Stunning Ornamental Flowering Trees For Illinois


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Flowering trees add seasonal interest year after year for homeowners and allow urban dwellers to connect to the mystery of nature from the comfort of their own homes.

Illinois was formerly covered in prairie grass, and can broadly be divided into three zones; The Central Plains, the Shawnee Hills, and the Gulf Coastal Plain. The state sees all four seasons and is consistently temperate. You can find lowlands, hills, and high elevations throughout the land mass.

The summers are hot and humid whilst the winters are long and cold. The southern portion of the state is warmer than the northern part, with the most southerly tip extending into zone 7a, whilst most of the rest of the state sits in zone 5.

Be sure to check the hardiness map of Illinois before deciding what to plant.

24 Beautiful Flowering Trees to Plant in Illinois

1. Japanese Lilac Tree (Syringa reticulata)

https://shrsl.com/3qu1z
Image by Joe Passe via Flickr

The Japanese Lilac is a small-sized flowering ornamental tree with a multi-trunked growth habit, but can easily be trained into a single-trunked tree. The leaves are large and dark green, whilst the flowers are small and creamy white and delicately scented. They appear in large pendulous clusters in the early summer.

The Japanese Lilac grows best in moist, well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Japanese Tree Lilac

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Early summer

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

White Ash tree
Image by –SB_Johnny | PA! via WikimediaCommons

White Ash trees flower early in the season, before the appearance of the leaves. They are broadly columnar deciduous, fast-growing trees.

Male ash trees bloom annually, whilst females will only bloom once every 2-3 years, but do so profusely when the time is right. Flowers can be greenish/yellow, to purplish green and are about ⅛’ in diameter. White Ash is wind-pollinated.

The leaves are dark green, with 3-5 tapered leaflets, and turn yellow and then purple in the fall. The buds are brown in the winter. Plant in well-drained alkaline or neutral soil in full sun for best results.

Other Common Names: Canadian Ash, American Ash, Biltmore Ash

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 ft tall and 40-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

3. Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin ‘Rosea’)

mimosa tree
Image via Nature Hills

The Mimosa Tree offers a subtle tropical and elegant feel to the landscape, with its light pink to deep pink delicate flower clusters and light, delicate petals. They feature a vase-shaped spreading crown, a flat top, and soft, fern-like foliage.

The flowers appear on top of the foliage with an appearance like pink cotton candy/pom poms and are attractive to birds, butterflies, and bees. These are followed by green seed pods that turn brown later in the season.

The Mimosa Tree does well in heat, humidity, and drought. It’s a fast-growing, deciduous shade tree that will happily grow in warmer areas of IL.

Other Common Names: Persian Silk Tree

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-35 ft tall and 25-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: May – July

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

eastern redbud
Image by sonnia hill via Flickr

The Eastern Redbud is a spectacular flowering tree native to eastern North America whose flowers are often viewed as a harbinger of spring. The flowers can be magenta/lavender in color, and emerge directly from the bare branches before the heart-shaped leaves emerge.

The Eastern Redbud is small in size, being an understory tree in the wild, and looks good planted alone as a single specimen tree, or in a group.

The crown is rounded, and the leaves turn yellow in the fall. Small purplish/brown seed pods persist throughout the winter adding year-round seasonal interest.

The shape of redbuds varies greatly making them perfect for natural plantings or woodland gardens. Redbuds prefer well-drained soil but will tolerate wet clay and alkaline soils.

Other Common Names: American Redbud, American Judas Tree, Judas Tree, Mexican Judas Tree, Texas Redbud

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 15-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: Early spring (March – April)

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Aphrodite Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

The Aphrodite Rose of Sharon is a fast-growing, upright vase-shaped small tree or large shrub that features twin-color flowers and a long bloom season that attracts plenty of hummingbirds.

It’s rewarding to grow even for the most neglectful gardener. Furthermore, the bloom period is long, sometimes even lasting from summer until the first frost. It’ll happily grow in either full sun or partial shade and require very little maintenance.

The Rose of Sharon is heat, drought, and pollution and poor-soil resistant.

Other Common Names: Shrub Althea ‘Aphrodite.’

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 6-10 ft tall and 4-8 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer to fall

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

6. Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Northern Catalpa
Image by Clivid via Flickr

The Northern Catalpa is a large tree with an upright form and heart-shaped leaves. In the spring they can be seen covered from top to bottom with azalea-like flowers. They are bell-shaped with yellow throats, crimson dots, and white petals and are loved by hummingbirds.

The Northern Catalpa is a native tree that can be found along rivers, and streams around the Midwest, meaning it is adapted to wet soils but will easily adapt to other soil types.

The fruit are dangling pods resembling large green beans and persists into the winter months providing seasonal interest beyond the flowering period.

Other Common Names: Cigar Tree, Catawba, Hardy Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree, Western Catalpa

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

Pagoda Dogwood - Nature Hills Lyrae Willis
Images by Lyrae Willis and Nature Hills, Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Pagoda Dogwood is a medium-sized tree native to the eastern portion of North America. The branches spread out horizontally and are laden with purple/red foliage. The blossom is pale white/yellow and are followed by bluish fruit.

Pagoda Dogwoods are not the only type of dogwood tree that does best in partial shade in moist soils but will also adapt to other soil types.

Other Common Names: Alternate Leaved Dogwood, Green Osier

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 ft tall and 12-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Seven Son Flower (Heptacodium miconiodes)

seven son flower
Image by Dan Keck via Flickr

The Seven Son Flower is a native of China and features a fountain-like crown and seven-branched clusters of creamy fragrant white flowers. Each branch produces 6 blossoms that are followed by small reddish-purple fruit. The foliage is medium green in color, shiny, and obovate-oblong in shape.

The Seven Son Flower is deciduous and does best in full sun and averagely moist well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Seven Son Flower

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 5-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late summer to early fall

Available at: Nature Hills

9. American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

American Sweetgum
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The American Sweetgum is native to Illinois and gets its name from the sap which has a sweet taste and gummy texture. Flowers are either male or female on the same plant. Male flowers can be 1 – 2 ½” long, are yellowish green, and are borne on clusters. Female flowers are green with a globe-like shape.

The leaves are deep green and glossy, and star-shaped, turning purple-red/yellow in the fall and persist for a while on the tree before being shed. The American Sweetgum features a pyramidal shape, becoming more rounded or oval with age. Avoid heavily polluted sites and make sure there is adequate space for root development before planting.

Other Common Names: Sweet Gum

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-75 ft tall and 40-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

Available at: Nature Hills

10. Royal Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’)

Star Magnolia feature flamboyant flowers that reveal themselves before the appearance of the foliage. Magnolia blossoms come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them beloved trees when in bloom.

The Royal Star Magnolia features one of the most spectacular Magnolia flowers. They are double flowers, star-shaped and 4” long, and appear in abundance, practically covering the entire tree. They are late bloomers, flowering after the threat of frost has passed.

The Royal Star Magnolia can be trained into a shrub or hedge for smaller spaces. Plant in full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Royal Star Magnolia

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 ft tall and 8-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: Early to mid-spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

11. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

sassafras
Image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr

Sassafras is a medium-sized deciduous tree that features a dense pyramidal crown. The flowers are dense and greenish/yellow and grow in clusters. The flowers give way to small groups of bluish/black berries.

The foliage is variable; usually ovate, three-lobed, and bright in color with pale undersides. Fall colors are stunning with shades of red, purple, and yellow.

Sassafras grows best in well-drained moist, loamy acidic soils.

Other Common Names: Cinnamon Wood, Common Sassafras, White Sassafras, Mitten Tree

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-60 ft tall and 25-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

12. Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

flowering quince
Image by candiru via Flickr

The flowering quince is a multi-stemmed deciduous tree or shrub with a somewhat untidy growth habit. However, it more than makes up for it with its beautiful flowers that come in shades of red, pink, or white that contrast wonderfully with the dark foliage.

The flowers feature 5 petals and are about 2” in diameter and last for between 10 and 14 days, and are followed by yellowish/green fruit that can be used in preserves.

The leaves are oval with serrated edges, glossy dark green with a maximum size of 3 ½”. It has a slow to medium growth rate, taking several years to reach its modest mature height. It’ll grow in any soil type other than clay and alkaline, but well-drained loam will produce the best flowering.

Other Common Names: Chinese Flowering Quince

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 3-10 ft tall and 3-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Winter/spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

13. Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

chaste tree
Image by manuel m. v. via Flickr

The Chaste Tree is a winter hardy tree that can produce showy flowers throughout the summer months. It grows as a vase-shaped shrub but is commonly trained into a small tree. The flowers are blue/lavender spikes and are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. It’s fast-growing, multi-stemmed, and easy to grow in well-drained soil.

The Chaste Tree is both drought-tolerant and disease resistant. The foliage is green and fragrant with a silver undertone. One of the benefits of adding a Chaste Tree to your yard is its hardiness and the fact that it’ll reward you with flowers right up until the autumn.

Other Common Names: Monk’s Pepper, Vitex, Chasteberry, Abraham’s Balm

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 3-20 ft tall and 3-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: July – October

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

14. Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Desert willow
Image by John Rusk via Flickr

The Desert Willow is native to parts of the southwestern US and is a medium-sized tree with a rapid growth rate and a loose, open crown. It’s not a true willow but is related to the Catalpa family of trees.

The flowers are either dark pink or purple and feature 5 petals and a unique white stripe running through the center. The trunk is twisted, lending a wild and windswept air to wherever it’s planted.

The Desert Willow features deciduous foliage and dark twigs and is drought tolerant. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun for the best effect.

Other Common Names: Catalpa Willow

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 20-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – September

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

15. Weeping Cherry (Prunus pendula ‘Pendula Plena Rosea’)

weeping cherry
Image via Nature Hills

The Weeping cherry produces immense double blossoms in the spring that are guaranteed to turn heads. Its gracefully weeping habit adds architectural interest even in the winter months. The bark is bronze and ringed, adding to the allure of this tree.

The Weeping cherry is often one of the first trees to flower in the spring. After the flowers have faded, the Weeping Cherry’s dark green leaves provide shade throughout the summer, before turning yellow and red in the fall and finally being shed. Songbirds are attracted to the small dark cherries and devour them in no time.

The Weeping Cherry will grow best in well-drained slightly acidic soil but is adaptable, even tolerating some clay and sandy soils.

Other Common Names: Weeping Cherry

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Early spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

16. Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Black Locust tree
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

Black Locusts are broadly columnar, deciduous trees with a narrow oblong crown that produce deeply fragrant pea-like flowers in the spring after the leaves have emerged.

They are borne on drooping clusters 4-6” long and are small and white with a black dot in the middle and attract a wealth of pollinators, including bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The flowers are followed by brown flat seed pods that persist until the winter.

The leaves are dark green and are composed of 5-11 pairs of leaflets that turn yellow in the fall. The bark is rough with deep furrows. The black locust will grow in many different soil types including dry poor soils and clay.

Black Locust trees also fix nitrogen into the ground, making it available for other plants in the vicinity.

Other Common Names: Common Robinia, False Acacia, Fragrant White Locust, Yellow Locust

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 20-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring

Available at: Nature Hills

17. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

tulip poplar
Image by Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Isa via Flickr

The Tulip Poplar is a native hardwood tree that makes an impressive shade tree. The blossoms have a tulip shape and cover the entire tree in the spring and are greenish/yellow with a splash of bright orange.

The growth habit of the Tulip Poplar is upright and has a tidy shape from youth into old age. The canopy is conical and requires no pruning to keep it in order. The leaves are large and have a star shape and turn bright yellow/bronze in the autumn.

Being a native tree, it provides valuable habitat for many birds, and food for butterflies, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies who love the nectar. The Tulip Poplar is adaptable to many different soil types including wet soils, is fast-growing, and will even adapt to dry and hot conditions.

Other Common Names: Yellow Poplar

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-90 ft tall and 30-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May after the leaves emerge

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

18. White Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus var. maritimus)

White fringe tree flowers
Image by bobistraveling via Flickr

The White Fringe Tree is treasured for its drooping clusters of sweetly scented white blossoms. Grape-like clusters of fruit follow the female flowers.

The flowers are greenish/yellow/off-white and feature 4-6 petals 1” long and dangle off pendulous clusters 4-6” long and open with or before the emergence of the leaves. The trunk is pale green with white bands, whilst the leaves are glossy and dark green.

The White Fringe Tree is a small tree or shrub with a narrow trunk and oblong crown and grows best in loose, moist sandy soil.

Other Common Names: Snowflower Tree, Fringe Tree, Old Man’s Beard, Grandfather Grey Beard, Grancy Grey Beard

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – June

Available at: Nature Hills

19. Arnold Pink Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina ‘Arnold Pink’)

carolina silverbell
Image via Nature Hills

The Carolina Silverbell is an understory flowering tree with a wide-spreading rounded canopy. The blossoms are bell-shaped and are produced in clusters of 2-5. The foliage is ovate, finely toothed, and dark yellow/green.

The Carolina Silverbell grows best in well-drained, rich acidic locations in partial shade and requires little maintenance. It may be trained as a single-trunked tree or grown as a multi-stemmed tree.

Other Common Names: Silverbell Tree

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 ft tall and 20-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: April (either with or before the leaves emerge)

Available at: Nature Hills

20. Cleveland Pear Tree (Pyrus calleryana)

cleveland pear tree
Image by John Rusk via Flickr

The Cleveland Pear is a medium-sized flowering tree with a dense pyramidal shape and is both fast-growing and drought-tolerant.

Native to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, it’s a common landscape plant due to its tolerance of urban conditions including heat, drought, and air pollution. Spring sees a profusion of white blossom, which emit a somewhat unpleasant aroma.

The Cleveland Pear grows best in well-drained moist loamy soils and can grow in partial shade. The branches grow at upright angles and are weak, sometimes breaking in the wind or with heavy snow.

Other Common Names: Callery Pear, Bradford Pear

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 20-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

21. Newport Plum (Prunus cerasifera)

newport plum tree
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Newport Plum is grown for the lush colors it produces, and whilst it is a fruit-producing tree, the fruit isn’t typically consumed by humans. They are compact trees that have beautiful crimson/bronze/purple shaded foliage and a dense rounded crown.

Spring sees the emergence of abundant sweetly scented flowers and lush pink blossoms. They are cold hardy and low-maintenance plants that thrive even in the winter months.

Summer sees the leaves turn dark purple before finally turning dark red before being shed in the fall.

Other Common Names: Cherry Plum, Myrobalan Plum

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 ft tall and 8-12 ft wide

Flowering Season: April

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

22. Japanese Snowbell Tree (Styrax japonicus)

japanese snowbell tree
Image by Thomas Quine via Flickr

The Japanese Snowbell Tree is a medium-sized flowering tree with horizontal branches and a rounded crown. The flowers are bell-shaped, somewhat fragrant and feature 5 petals, and are borne on drooping clusters with glossy white color.

The foliage is a medium shade of deep green, ovate to elliptic in shape, with an upward face, and turns yellow/red in the fall.

Greenish/brown olive-shaped drupes follow the blossom. The Japanese Snowbell grows best in moist, acidic organically rich soils in either full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Japanese Snowbell Tree, Egonoki

Growing Zones: 6-8

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

23. Prairifire Crabapple (Malus x ‘Prairifire’)

prairifire crabapple
Image via Nature Hills

The Prairifire Crabapple is an ornamental pink flowering tree that’s well suited to small-scale urban settings without sacrificing any beloved features of the crabapple.

It features a rounded symmetrical shape when mature, and is graced with dark green leaves, dark red bark, and an evenly distributed branch structure.

The buds are red and are followed by flowers that appear on the bare branches and are a tantalizing shade of pink, encased in 5 petals followed behind by the foliage which starts off deep purple and is smaller than other crabapple cultivars.

The fruit is small, glossy, and cherry shaped and persists from late summer into the winter or spring or until migrating birds or songbirds feast on them. Prairifire crabapples will grow in well-drained soil and will also tolerate clay soil well, provided there’s adequate drainage.

Other Common Names: Prarifire Crabapple

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

24. Tonto Crape Myrtle Tree (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Tonto’)

The Tonto Crape Myrtle provides a head-turning display of fuchsia red flowers throughout the summer months. The compact size makes it a suitable choice for those short on space who still want a vibrant burst of color.

This variety is also more resistant to common crape myrtle diseases meaning a longer bloom season and making the Tonto one of the last trees to shed its leaves in the winter.

Plant in full sun in well-draining soil for best results.

Other Common Names: Tonto Crape Myrtle Tree

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring to early fall

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Floral Abundance

Flowering trees reward patient gardeners with seasonal displays of beauty that can instill awe in the natural world in mindful observers.

IL offers home gardeners plenty of options when it comes to flowering trees, as the state experiences all four seasons, meaning that what you plant can bring a different flavor and texture to your yard throughout the year.

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