It's a feast for the eyes, a breakfast for the soul. We fall in love with color so easily in spring that even non-gardeners say of something seen in bloom,"That's it, it's perfect for that spot I have to plant." At the garden center that person says, "I don't know what it is except it's (name a color)."
Here's a line up to help you identify unknown spring beauties. We've included many that star from late April up to about Memorial Day across the middle of North America. (Stretching into early June, farther north).
Color key: A quick link-list by color
By plant name: Link-list of plants included in this article
However, before you note a plant's name and run out to buy it, click on its name or photo here. That will take you to the plant's summary page where we list what's good, great or simply essential to know.
To find a plant by its color or to look for trees and shrubs that bloom the color you need:
• Do a quick scroll of this whole article, stopping each time you see that color.
• Or click through the plants listed below for the color you're seeking.
|See this color in spring on a tree or shrub...||...it may be a:
(Many species have a wide range in bloom color. Links below take you to more information about the species; photos there may not portray the species' entire spectrum.)
|White||andromeda, azalea, bridal veil spirea, callery pear, cherry (pie-, weeping-, others), crabapple, flowering dogwood, Fothergilla, fragrant Viburnum (Burkwood, Koreanspice, Judd, others), hawthorn, horsechestnut, leatherleaf Viburnum, lilac (common- and tree liac), Magnolia, mock orange, Rhododendron, serviceberry|
|Pink||azalea, cherry (Kwanzan-, weeping-, others), crabapple, flowering dogwood, flowering almond, hawthorn, Magnolia, mountain laurel, Rhododendron, sandcherry|
|Red||azalea, quince, red maple, red horsechestnut, Rhododendron|
|Violet||crabapple, lilac (common- and dwarf lilac), redbud, Rhododendron, Wisteria|
|Maroon||(leaf color) barberry, crabapple, Japanese maple, Norway maple, peony, purple leaf plum, shrub rose|
|Blue||vining Clematis montana|
|Yellow-green||elm, Norway maple, red oak, sugar maple|
|Yellow||azalea, clove currant, Cornelian cherry, Forsythia, grapeholly, Kerria, Magnolia|
This key is a good start but not without bumps. For instance, some people say quince is orange but we've listed it as red because we most often hear people refer to it that way. Viburnums are another example. We list them as white even yet there are a few uncommon pinks, and some are pink in bud before they open to white.
callery pear, cherry, crabapple,
dwarf lilac (photo at top of this article)
flowering almond, flowering dogwood, Forsythia, Fothergilla, fragrant Viburnum (Burkwood, Koreanspice, Judd, others),
Kerria, Kwanzan cherry,
leatherleaf Viburnum, lilac
peony, purple leaf plum
red maple, red oak, redbud, Rhododendron, rose
sandcherry, sugar maple
weeping cherry, Wisteria
Use our Search for more information, which is almost certainly here. The links featured here are specifically to spring portraits. For instance, dwarf lilac features in a great pruning article but its spring color is secondary there.
Barberry (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea) with Judd Viburnum (Viburnum x juddii).
Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) varieties 'Bradford' (left) and 'Chanticleer' (right).
Kwanzan cherry (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan', P. x 'Yedoensis')
Crabapples (Malus hybrids and cultivars)
Flowering almond (Prunus triloba)
Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)
Grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium 'Compacta', M. repens?)
Hawthorn (Crataegus ssp.)
Jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens)
Magnolia (Magnolia cultivars and hybrids)
Red oak (Quercus rubra)
Purple leaf plum (Prunus cerasifera)
Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Rhododendron (azaleas are Rhododendron cultivars and hybrids)
Leatherleaf viburnums (Viburnum rhytidophyllum, V. x rhytidophylloides)
Purple leaf sandcherry (Prunus x cistena)
Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda)
Don't forget the foliage color which can be as beautiful as the flowers.
Below (right to left): Yellow leaf Norway maple (Acer platanoides 'Princeton Gold', seen far less often than the purple leaf A. p. 'Crimson King'), Japanese maple (Acer palmatum atropurpurea) and flowering crab (Malus hybrid).