Best Trees to Plant: Flowering Trees For Small, Shaded Spaces.

Here are three of the best trees to plant that are perfect for small spaces and are shade loving trees. Do you have a courtyard that needs a feature?  Does your small space garden require a plant with height or flowers to brighten up your outdoor landscape?  And is the area in the shade of a building or street trees?

Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis in bloom

This slow to moderate growing tree is primarily know for its fall colour.  Butter yellow leaves in autumn create a cheery, bright display. Early spring flowers are a shocking pink-red, about 2cm long covering the entire tree’s old wood.  In spring, leaves are purplish-red, maturing to dark green during the summer months.

Cercis canadensis fall colour

Cercis canadensis fall colour

Height (at 15 years): 3-9 m

Spread (at 15 years): 5-10m

Naturally multi-stemmed, nurseries train Cercis Canadensis to be a single trunk tree, reducing its spread in small yards.  It prefers to grow in consistently moist soil with a neutral pH.


Oxydendrum arboreum

Lily-of-the-valley tree, Sorrel tree

Oxydendrum arboreum showy flowers

Oxydendrum arboreum showy flowers

Considered to be a specimen tree because of its twelve months of beauty, Oxydendrum arboreum is a great addition to any courtyard. Inverted flowers are panicles of green-white urn shaped florettes, a terrific display that nearly covers the whole tree as the flowers appear on new growth.  The leaves start out a bright, light green, turning yellow or red-purple in fall.  Then, for winter, capsule-shaped fruit hang on the tree.

Oxydendrum arboreum leaf-fall-color

Oxydendrum arboreum stunning fall foliage

Height (at 15 years): 3-8 m

Spread (at 15 years): 2-6 m

Planting this tree in acidic soil actually gives it more colour.  It’s the perfect complement to an area that’s planted with cedars!  This slow-grower has roots that grow close to the surface, so adding compost yearly is good for the roots.


Magnolia sieboldii

Oyama magnolia, Summer magnolia

Magnolia sieboldii

Magnolia sieboldii tree

A flowering tree provides a great focal point in any small space. This magnolia is known for its lemon-scented pure white flowers.  The blooms open progressively, making it not as popular of a magnolia, but the bloom period is spread over several months as flowers open gradually one after the other.  Leaves turn yellow in fall and the trunk is a magnificent olive green.

Magnolia sieboldii flower

Magnolia sieboldii flower

Height (at 15 years): 5 – 6 m

Spread (at 15 years): 5 – 6 m

This clean tree is easy to manage, though keep in mind that it takes three years to bloom if you buy a young tree.  It is best if planted in a slightly protected spot in your garden, such as close to the house or tucked in a corner.

Small space trees make great low-maintenance plants.  Apart from some minor pruning in spring, these trees need very little attention once they are established.  That’s why they are recommended as the best trees to plant.  In the fall, leaf clean-up is quickly done, or can be left as a protective blanket covering the soil and then removed in spring. All three of these shade loving trees prefer part-shade, though the Oyama magnolia and the Lily-of-the-valley tree can both also thrive in sunny conditions.  Given the minor amount of care required for these trees, this makes the features they offer all the more enjoyable as they bring colour, flowers and height to your small space garden.

About Jessica Salvador

Jessica has spent over ten years in the landscaping industry in nursery production, landscape maintenance and garden centre sales. She graduated in 2002 from the highly recognized horticulture program at Capilano University as a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. Higher Ground Gardens, your West Side Vancouver gardening and landscaping professionals for hedge trimming, pruning, bark mulch delivery, yard clean up, and on going gardening and landscaping maintenance. Gardening Vancouver, The Garden Pro's to call from Spring through Fall.
This entry was posted in Garden Reno, Gardening Vancouver and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.