Flowering medium sized tree for backyard, Toronto (Roncesvalles)


Hi there,
Our Kwanzan cherry tree needs to be replaced, and we are looking for a similar sized flowering tree. The soil is clay like, and the area is wet, with afternoon sun. We would like a tree that flowers, and also looks attractive once blooms have fallen.
Would like a tree with a single trunk (not multiple like service berry). Maybe 25 feet or so in height.
Our neighbours have 6 bradford pear trees, and we do not want one of these (awful smell!)
We would welcome any and all suggestions please!
Thank you


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.

So pleased to hear that you will be replacing your Kwanzan cherry tree with another tree. Trees not only form the foundation of the landscape they clean the air, provide shade,  provide vertical interest and a habitat for wildlife. You mention that your soil is wet. Does this mean that it is moist but well- drained? Is there always a puddle? Slow to drain?

The following is a list of a variety of small understory trees which prefer moist soil:

Eastern Redbud(Cercis canadensis)- The tree develops flower buds along older branches right up to last years branch growth. The clustered flowers are pink and are compared in shape to pea or bean flowers. Flowers develop first and branch and leaf growth starts to develop at the end of flowering. The leaves are heart-shaped with a smooth edge. Grows 5m x 6m

Crabapple(Malus spp.)- Crabapples are versatile, small, ornamental trees used in the urban landscape. Crabapples bloom in spring, usually in May, bearing flowers that vary a great deal in color, size, fragrance, and visual appeal. It is common for flower buds to be red, opening to pink or white flowers. The fruit ripens between July and November, and varies in size from ¼”to 2” long or wide.

Star Magnolia – Grows best in moist fertile soil, grows 3×4 meters in size

Crimson Cloud Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata ‘Crimson Cloud’)-The Crimson Cloud Hawthorn is another great tree to put in your landscape. The Crimson Cloud Hawthorn is resistant to the leaf blight that afflicts the Paul’s Scarlet Hawthorn. This Hawthorn is thorn-less.  The ultimate size is around 8m tall x 7m wide. “Crimson Cloud” hawthorns are quite tolerant of most soils, but prefer heavy loam or clay. The tree blooms best in full sun but can tolerate some shade, and does well in most climates

Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides) is available in tree or shrub form. This unusual member of the honeysuckle family is not a vine but a vase-shaped woody plant and one that is relatively unknown to most gardeners. During the growing season, Seven-Son flower is covered with 4-6 inch long thick, glossy leaves. The flowers appear in mid to late July in tight, whorled sets of seven hence its common name. Following flowering, the sepals at the base of the flowers not only persist, but also continue to elongate and turn bright red as the seeds mature. The bark of this tree is a  soft tan-colored, striping bark that provides winter interest. This tree tolerates a very wide range of conditions. It can reach 15-20 feet tall and 10 foot wide.

Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is available in either tree or shrub form, and is also an under utilized plant.Fringe tree gets its name from its clouds of fleecy white, softly fragrant flowers that hang from the branches in late spring and early summer. It grows best in a sheltered spot in full to partial sun with Moist, fertile, well-drained soil.

Japanese Dogwood (Counus kousa)- This tree produces white flowers in May and June and as an added bonus the leaves turn a beautiful scarlet red in the fall. This tree grows best in  partial shade to full sun in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and clay soils. It prefers average moisture but is somewhat drought-resistant. It  grows to 15′ – 25′, 25′ spread.

The city of Guelph has an excellent website which lists Urban-Sized Trees for Small to Mid-Sized Plots

Happy planting!