If you plant a Carolina Silverbell tree in your garden, you will find that it is a versatile understory woodland tree with wonderful spring bloom.
It is native to wooded slopes, often along the margins of streams, in central and southern regions of the United States and is hardy in zones 5 to 8. It has a single trunk and branching low to the ground. Its mature size is about 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide.
It has dark green leaves and gray/brown bark with grooves. The fall leaf coloration is yellowish, but the leaves do not last long on the tree, as they drop off quickly.
However, the flowers are its claim to fame. They are spectacular and are borne on old wood in late April to early May, and the bell-shaped clusters of blooms hang downwards in a pendulous fashion.
Most are white, and one lovely white weeping cultivar is ‘Lady Catherine’.
There are some pink ones too, such as ‘Arnold Pink’ and ‘Rosea’, and more cultivars are appearing on the market.
This is an improvement as Carolina Silverbells used to be hard to find in the trade and were therefore rarely seen in home gardens. If you locate one, as I am now determined to do, plant it in full sun to part shade, in rich acidic and well-drained soil. Azaleas and evergreens would be good neighbors if you use it in a mixed planting.
Reference: Landscaping with Trees in the Midwest by Scott Zanon.