Cercis canadensis, or Eastern Redbud, is a deciduous large shrub or small tree native to most of the Eastern and Central United States. Trees of great age will reach up to 40 feet (12 m) in height, but here in Oklahoma they only reach 20-30 feet (6-9 m) tall. Leaves are broadly ovate to nearly orbicular and usually cordate at the base. If you have driven the highways here in Oklahoma this last week you where greeted with a great show of our state tree. There are many named cultivars and some of these include; 'Alba' (white flowers), 'Appalachian Red' (red purple buds with bright pink flowers), 'Convey' (purple pink flowers), 'Dwarf White' (white flowers with an 8-10 foot growth habit), 'Flame' (double rose pink), 'Forest Pansy' (rose purple), 'Pink Bud' (bright pink), 'Royal White' (white flowers), 'Silver Cloud' (purple pink), 'Tennessee Pink' (clear pink), and 'Winthers Pink Charm' (soft pink flowers). I believe the one in the photo is 'Forest Pansy'. Redbuds can grow in a lot of soil types and settings, and I recommend these trees to anyone who wants a small tree in their landscape. The trees are very hardy, but short-lived species have a life span of only 20-30 years. Redbuds are hardy in USDA zones 4-9.
Blooming Time: Redbuds bloom in early spring. Flowers emerge in clusters before the foliage, and individual flowers are up to 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) long. This is a very showy tree, no matter which color you have or choose.
Culture: Cercis canadensis or Redbuds do very well here in Oklahoma, with our wide range of soil types from rich sandy loams to red clay soils to our eastern rocky soils. They do best in a rich sandy loam soil with a forest setting and some light shade from our hot summer sun, but I have seen them grow in open pasture under full sun. Redbuds in general are a very adaptive tree.
Propagation: Cercis canadensis or Redbuds are best propagated by seed in spring or by layering softwood cuttings in spring. Many of the cultivars are hybrids and will not stay true to seed; some do not produce seed at all.
Cercis canadensis was featured as Plant of the Week April 9-15, 2010.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.