Redbud, Eastern

Learn more about landscaping and gardening with the Redbud, the Cercis canadensis

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Eastern redbud in early spring

USDA Zone: 4 to 9
Plant type: deciduous tree

The purplish pink flowers of the Eastern redbud festoon woodland edges and naturalized areas as one of the earliest harbingers of spring. Foliage appears soon after — heart-shaped leaves about five inches long and three inches wide. The leaves emerge reddish-purple and mature to dark green. Autumn color can be greenish-yellow to a good yellow. Two- to three-inch (or longer) fruit pods form in fall and turn brown.This small tree eventually gets to 20 to 30 feet high and easily as wide, its canopy ranging from vase-shaped to rounded. The bark blackens with age, creating an attractive contrast to snow in winter.

Culture:

This tree will tolerate a wide range of soil types, from acid to alkaline, as long as they're well-drained. Prefers moist soils, so supply regular waterings on drier soils. Occurring naturally along woodland edges, the redbud can handle either full sun or light shade. Botrysphaeria canker is among the worst threats to this tree, followed by Verticillium wilt, various leaf spots and root rot; giving this tree the best cultural conditions lessens the threat. Most redbuds are relatively short-lived--20 to 30 years. Expect about 1-1/2 feet of growth per year, but more with occasional feedings when young and regular watering.

How to use it:

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'Forest Pansy' in late spring

With its small stature, heart-shaped leaves and tidy canopy, the redbud makes a wonderful small tree for groupings, near the edge of natural woodland settings, near a bench or close to the patio.

Selected cultivars:

  • 'Forest Pansy'. Foliage is purple (new leaves are reddish-purple), and flowers are a rosier purple than that of the species. Purple color of the leaves may fade to green in southern climes. The woody-plant authority Michael Dirr rated its cold-hardiness as not significantly below -10 degrees F but notes that new hardiness information may put its hardiness at colder temperatures.
  • 'Texas White'. A beautiful
  • 'Royal White'. Flowers are white and prolific. Very hardy.
  • 'Alba' (var. alba). White flowers. Hardy only to -10 F.
  • 'Pinkbud'. Bright pink flowers.
  • 'Tennesee Pink'. Flowers are clear pink.
  • 'Withers Pink Charm'. Light pink flowers. Tolerated -24 degrees F.
  • 'Covey'. A weeping form with bright pink flowers.

    Find out more about redbuds.

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