Best Spring-Flowering Trees for the Denver Foothills
Looking for the perfect flowering tree for your Denver Foothills landscape? Our low humidity, cool evening temperatures, and warm daytime temperatures create the perfect growing environment for many small flowering trees that thrive in our red, rocky soils. In fact, some of the best are regional natives. If you live in the area, we recommend you try one (or more) of these beautiful flowering trees.
Saskatoon Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
Few native trees are as attractive as the Saskatoon serviceberry! This shrubby, multi-stemmed tree can reach 25-35 feet when fully grown and develops a beautiful upright vase shape. Clouds of delicate white flowers cover its branches in spring. These are followed by edible, purplish “Saskatoon berries”, which can be harvested and eaten or left as forage for songbirds and other wildlife. In fall, its leaves turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold.
There are several exceptional landscape varieties—most notably the compact ‘Regent’, which only reaches 4-6 feet in height.
Saskatoon serviceberry is an adaptable tree that grows well in clay-rich soils. It is also an understory tree, which means it is shade tolerant, though it develops its best growth and flowering when planted in full sun.
Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’)
Truly brilliant fiery fall foliage is the highlight of autumn brilliance serviceberry, but it also boasts multi-seasonal interest.
In spring, it becomes covered with loads of white flowers, edible dark red berries are produced in summer, and its smooth gray bark looks attractive in winter.
The multi-stemmed tree reaches 20-25 feet when mature and is also highly disease resistant. Grow it in full sun and average to moist well-drained soil.
Russian Hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua)
Although not native to our area, this 2011 CSU Plant Select variety grows very well in Colorado, even at higher elevations of 7,500 feet or more.
Each spring, it makes a statement in the landscape as it becomes covered with masses of white flowers clusters. By the end of summer, it develops glossy red fruits that look attractive throughout the autumn.
Reaching only 20 feet tall and wide, this deciduous tree makes a nice landscape accent. The canopy tends to stay close to the ground so avoid planting it where it would block access along walkways, patios, etc.
Like most hawthorns, it has spines along its branches so handle it with care (this isn’t a bad thing as it helps deter deer and elk!).
Grow Russian hawthorn in full sun and well-drained soil. Established trees will tolerate extended drought.
Note: Crimson Cloud hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata ‘Crimson Cloud’) is another good option but is hardy only to elevations around 6,000 feet.
Canada Red Select Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red Select’)
Colorful foliage and fragrant spring flowers make this a great native landscape tree for Colorado homeowners!
In spring it produces elongated clusters of fragrant white flowers that glow against its leaves, which are green when they emerge in spring, turn dark purple in summer, and bright red in fall. Dark fruits are produced in summer, which are eaten by songbirds.
This tough tree reaches 20 feet at maturity and grows best in full sun and well-drained soils. It is also noted for its tolerance to urban growing conditions.
Prairiefire Crabapple (Malus ‘Prairiefire’)
This small, deciduous tree bears masses of bright fuschia/deep pink flowers in spring, providing a brilliant pop of color in the landscape. Blossoms are followed by burgundy leaves that gradually turn an attractive deep green, then yellow as fall arrives.
Autumn brings clusters of small red fruit that are attractive to wildlife, especially birds. Because the fruit are smaller than other crabapples, there’s less mess to clean up at the end of the season.
Growing best in full sun to part shade, ‘Prairiefire’ reaches a height and width of about 18 feet at maturity. It prefers average to moist soil and will not do well if left to dry out; be sure it’s irrigated during drought conditions.
This crabapple cultivar is a good choice for properties located at higher elevations (7,500+ feet).
European Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
Hardy to -40F and a maximum elevation of 8,000 feet, European mountain ash is smothered in flat-topped clusters of white flowers in spring. Orange berries are borne in profusion later in the season, along with brilliant red, orange and yellow leaves.
With an upright, slightly rounded shape, this tree is a moderate grower that reaches about 30-35 feet tall and 20-25 feet wide.
Plant European mountain ash in full sun and ensure that it receives moderate water (although it will tolerate dry conditions). This tree is highly tolerant of urban pollution so can be grown successfully in city environments.
‘Cardinal Royal’ and ‘Black Hawk’ varieties are more upright than the straight species, growing to a mature width of only 15-20 feet. As such, they’re an excellent choice for smaller properties where space is at a premium.
Ready To Plant?
Each one of these beautiful flowering trees is highly adapted to our area. In addition to landscape value, they have wildlife value, so they are also great for the natural environment.
We recommend spring or early fall planting to get your new trees off to a great start. You can always call us for advice on where to plant your new tree(s) and don’t forget that we offer professional tree planting services if you don’t want to do it yourself!