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Knoxville's flowering trees offer a Spring spectacle
Submitted by Nick St. Sauveur
March 27, 2024

cherry blossoms
Cherry blossom tree

As winter winds down, spring gears up to offer a stunning show of flowers in Knoxville. The “starring role” this month is played by two iconic blooming trees: the cherry blossom tree and the dogwood tree. “Unlike their name might imply, cherry blossom trees don’t actually produce fruit,” says Nick St. Sauveur, certified arborist with Cortese Tree Specialists, a Davey company, in Knoxville. “They’re an extremely popular small to medium-sized landscape tree, and their appeal comes from their beautiful spring flowering.” St. Sauveur adds that dogwood trees are native to East Tennessee and thrive throughout the region.

Cherry blossom trees can be identified by blooms that are smaller than the star magnolias, saucer magnolias, and dogwood trees that also bloom across East Tennessee in the spring. Cherry blossom flowers come in a range of hues from white to ballet slipper pink depending on the tree’s variety. Some cherry blossom trees grow upright, reaching heights of 20-40’, while others have a spectacular weeping habit with flower-laden branches that sway in the breeze. Once cherry blossom blooms emerge, they generally last for about ten to fourteen days before the petals flutter from the branches in a beautiful showering that covers the ground.

Dogwood trees are smaller understory trees that are easily recognizable by their showy cross-shaped white or pink flowerlike bracts. Their green leaves are oval in shape, and reach 3-6” in length. In fall, these trees’ foliage turns a beautiful cranberry red that makes a stunning addition to the autumnal landscape.

Cherry blossom and dogwood trees make excellent choices for the home landscape for several reasons. Reaching a shorter mature height than many other trees, their size makes them the perfect pick for urban landscapes and smaller landscapes. And for spring allergy sufferers, these two trees are not generally viewed as major contributing trees that cause seasonal sneezes. Additionally, both trees offer multiple seasons of beauty. Their spring blooms soon give way to rich emerald-green foliage that provides verdant color in the summer landscape.

If this spring’s flowery blooms have inspired you to plant your own flowering beauty, St. Sauveur has a few tips:

• Cherry blossom trees can tolerate a wide range of soils from alkaline to neutral to acidic, so long as the soil is rich with nutrients and well-drained. Dogwood trees benefit from acidic, well-drained soil.

• Full sun exposure is ideal for cherry blossom trees, with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Dogwood trees prefer partial shade, with 4-6 hours of sun each day.

• Three popular varieties of cherry blossom trees in Tennessee include the Okame cherry blossom tree with its rose-hued flowers, Yoshino cherry blossom tree with pale white blooms, and Kwanzan cherry blossom tree with dynamic pink flowers. For dogwood trees, flowering dogwood and Kousa dogwood offer a lovely showing of white each spring.

Planting a new tree the right way is key to ensuring its enduring health and beauty. If you’re new to landscaping or simply seeking advice from a seasoned professional, a certified arborist can help you select the right variety and location for your new tree, spot any potential issues before they become problems, and advise you on long-term care and maintenance.

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