Posted: April 11, 2024

When winter finally begins to fade away in Massachusetts, you can’t help but get excited about spring.

In fact, one of the most exciting things about this new season is the color. And while spring bulbs are the earliest to start poking up their green shoots and then colorful blooms, flowering trees emerge shortly after. And that’s when you can get excited because it feels like the season has officially begun.

But as you wait patiently for the color magic to begin, you might be wondering, “When is the best time for spring blooms in Boston?” and “What month do flowers start to bloom?”

Let’s look at spring flowering trees and what flowers bloom in May in Massachusetts so you can get excited about the spring season start.

When Do Trees Flower in Boston?

It’s important to mention that bloom times of Massachusetts trees will differ each year based on the local weather conditions. What’s more, some varieties, cultivars, and species can bloom at different times than other closely related species.

Another thing that is impacting bloom timing more in recent years is climate change. The change in plant hardiness zones, for instance, can impact which flowering trees do best in Massachusetts.

As you review the timing for spring blooms in Boston and notice your tree may not fall into this range, remember it may be due to weather, variety, or climate change impacts.

Spring Flowering Trees

Check out this list of 9 common spring blooms in Boston and their flower timing to get a good idea for when your flowering trees will bloom.

1. Ornamental Cherry Trees

Flowering ornamental cherry trees bloom in late winter to very early spring with pale or neon pink clouds of lovely flowers.

Growing 15 to 25 feet tall and wide, the ornamental cherry is one of the first spring blooms in Boston and wows people with its stunning color. The leaves of the ornamental cherry also turn a glittering gold in fall.

2. Crab Apple

What flowers bloom in May in Massachusetts? The crabapple is one of them, reaching peak bloom in late April or early May.

This compact, versatile flowering tree provides year-round interest, too, with handsome foliage and fruit that sticks around through winter to provide interest and feed the birds.

These trees are great for smaller spaces since they come in a range of sizes – most not reaching more than 20 feet high. Many color varieties exist, including ‘Coralburst,’ ‘Red Jewel,’ and ‘Royal Raindrops.’ Check with your local arborist for some suggestions on the best disease-resistant varieties and cultivars.

3. Serviceberry

If you are looking for a showy, small, native, spring flowering tree with attractive form, foliage, and bark, as well as great fall color, then the serviceberry is for you.

On top of being a great size for small properties since it only reaches a height and spread of 15 to 25 feet, the serviceberry provides multiple seasons of interest – from delicate white flowers in March and April to berry-like reddish-purple fruit in summer to vivid red and gold shades in fall.

4. Redbud

The early spring blooms in Boston this tree delivers are breathtaking, opening from reddish-purple buds to rosy pink blooms, followed by heart-shaped leaves. Some varieties offer white flowers as well on this native tree.

The Eastern redbud’s rounded shape can reach 20 to 30 feet tall and boasts yellow fall color. This tree prefers well-drained soil. Also, be careful where you plant this tree; it can be sensitive to some herbicides used in lawn care products.

5. Catalpa

Featuring large, heart-shaped leaves and generous clusters of white, orchid-like flowers that bloom in May, this adaptable spring flowering tree can thrive in a variety of conditions.

It prefers full sun and well-drained soil and reaches an average height of 40 to 60 feet. For placement purposes, the catalpa can drop seed pods when it’s mature, so check with your local arborist on this to determine a good location.

6. Dogwood

Several species of this spring flowering tree exist, offering white or pink flowers.

Perfect for small spaces, the pink dogwood tree’s horizontal branches make an appealing silhouette when leafless in winter, and then the iconic pink flowers emerge in April and May.

Egg-shaped, dark green leaves adorn the tree throughout the year, turning red or purple in the fall. This tree can grow to 20 to 40 feet tall. Since these are considered understory trees, dogwoods can help break up a landscape vista by being placed with some taller and shorter plants in a space.

7. Magnolia

There are so many varieties of Magnolia trees in Boston, offering options for color and variety.

The star magnolia blooms in early February, being one of the first to bloom. Its white, star-shaped, fragrant flowers emerge before its dark green leaves. Blooms last until summer.

The saucer magnolia is an early bloomer offering rosy-pink flowers with dark purple streaks that at full size are up to 4 inches across, resembling teacups.

The Southern magnolia has glossy, dark green leaves accompanied by large, creamy white blooms in spring, and the fragrant flowers keep going all summer long. Some of the flowers, which bloom May through June, can reach up to 12 inches in diameter. This tree can vary in height from 20 to 80 feet high with a 40-foot spread.

The cucumber magnolia is a native tree and produces larger, more sparse, white flowers later in the year, but offers great pest Native magnolias are also a great choice for avoiding problems like magnolia scale.

Warmer areas with more mild winters can have success with other native magnolia varieties, but check with your local arborist or nursery first before making your selection.

8. Buckeye

Buckeye trees come in multiple varieties to bring spring color.

Ohio buckeyes offer pale greenish-yellow upright flower clusters that appear after the leaves from March to May. Yellow buckeyes also offer yellow flower displays in May with clusters that can reach 6 inches in length. The Bottlebrush buckeye offers fluffy, white flowers that are shaped – quite literally – like bottle brushes.

What’s more, buckeye blooms attract pollinators and hummingbirds.

While you'll find a lot of the spring flowering trees prefer quite a bit of sun, this one favors some shade, which is nice for properties that need some color but have shadier spots to fill.

When it comes to the nuts the buckeye produces, some people like them and some don’t. Consider this before choosing this tree. 

9. White Fringe Tree

This spring flowering tree produces bundles of slender white blooms in the late spring. A fringe tree only grows to 10 to 20 feet tall, so it can fit in almost any garden.

Its fragrant white flowers are grouped in 6- to 8-inch long fleecy, thin hanging bands and bloom in May to early June. The flowers cover the tree just as the leaves begin to emerge. In summer you can enjoy a neat, oval-shaped canopy of dark green leaves that are each wide and spear-shaped, turning yellow in autumn. The fringe tree also produces attractive dark blue to purplish berries.

Fringe tree bark is scaly with dark brown ridges and red furrows. This tree likes sun and moist, well-drained soil and tolerates drought and air pollution fairly well. It grows to 10 to 20 feet tall, so it can fit in almost any garden.

Native fringe tree can be susceptible to emerald ash borer (EAB), but it isn’t as much of an issue if the tree is well-maintained and healthy. The Chinese variety is EAB resistant.

At Hartney Greymont, we have both ISA and Massachusetts certified arborists located in Needham, Concord, Danvers, Cape Cod, and the surrounding areas to help you choose spring flowers trees that are right for your home landscape and take care of them so they deliver those blooms consistently each year.

Contact Your Local Arborist To Get Help With Selecting The Right Tree To Plant.

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