Redbud tree planting instructions

Eastern Redbuds

Celebrate the end of winter with an explosion of pink blossoms By Anne Balogh


Most people never forget the first time they see a redbud tree in full bloom. In my case, the memorable occasion took place at a local arboretum in early spring. The morning sun was shining on a group of nearly a dozen redbuds with flowers fully unfurled, setting off a spectacular show of pink fireworks.

The horizontal branching pattern of the redbud adds architectural interest and makes an attractive canopy for spring bulbs. Photo by: Saxon Holt.

As I returned to observe these trees throughout the year, I discovered that their beauty extends well beyond the spring season, as the fading flowers give way to heart-shaped green to bronze leaves in summer and brown pods that remain on the tree after the leaves fall. These attributes, along with the redbud’s compact size and resilient nature, have made it one of the most popular small trees for residential gardens.


  • Clusters of tiny magenta buds swell into showy rosy pink flowers in early spring before the leaves appear, with the long-lasting blossoms putting on a show for two to three weeks.
  • The buds appear to emerge right from the bark of twigs and branches and even on parts of the trunk, adorning the entire tree with miniature clusters of flowers.
  • The trunk of the redbud commonly divides close to the ground, creating an interesting multi-trunk shape with graceful arched branches and a rounded crown.
  • Heart-shaped leaves 2 to 6 inches in length emerge a reddish color, turning dark green in summer and then a bright canary yellow in autumn. The flowers also give rise to clusters of beanlike pods that remain on the tree into winter.
  • The redbud adapts to a wide range of site conditions and thrives in most types of soil and levels of sun exposure.


The eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) grows throughout most of the eastern U.S, extending as far west as Oklahoma and Texas and north into Canada. This tree is not picky when it comes to soil preference, but it does best when grown in a moist, well-drained location. Because of their modest size, redbuds work well as understory trees and are particularly stunning when planted in groupings. The horizontal branching pattern adds architectural interest to the garden and makes an attractive canopy for spring bulbs.

  • Zones:


  • Height:

    20-30 feet

  • Spread:

    25-35 feet

  • Soil:

    Tolerates acidic or alkaline soils as well as heavy clays

  • Exposure:

    Full sun to light shade

  • Annual growth rate:

    13 to 24 inches

The pea-sized blossoms of the eastern redbud emerge in early spring before the leaves arrive, covering the bare branches in garlands of pink. Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


Although most redbuds have lavender-pink flowers, certain varieties and cultivars have white, deep magenta, or light pink flowers. The leaf color may also vary, ranging from deep purple to chartreuse.

  • ‘Forest Pansy’ (shown) is one of the most popular cultivars, with deep purple foliage and rose-colored flowers. The foliage retains its burgundy color throughout the summer in cooler climates, but lightens to green in the hot climates of the Southeast.
  • ‘Ruby Falls’ is an excellent redbud for small spaces. Its weeping habit, red-purple flowers and heart-shaped leaves will bring elegance to any garden.
  • ‘Texas White’ produces an abundance of bright white flowers and has leathery, glossy, bright green foliage. ‘Alba’ is another white-flowered variety, with light green foliage.
  • The Rising Sun™ offers spectacular color with new growth starting apricot, transitioning to vivid gold, and finally to bright green.
  • ‘Ace of Hearts’ is a dwarf variety ideal for small gardens. It tops out at 12 feet and requires no pruning to maintain its shape.
  • ‘Silver Cloud’ has attractive variegated foliage with splashes of creamy white and pink.
  • ‘Hearts of Gold’ features bright golden-yellow foliage that gradually changes to chartreuse during the summer.
  • ‘Merlot’ (a hybrid of ‘Forest Pansy’ and ‘Texas White’) has lustrous dark purple foliage and good heat and drought tolerance.


Redbud trees tolerate moderate dry spells, but when planted in full sun, they should be watered regularly. To keep the soil cooler and evenly moist in the summer, apply a layer of mulch out to the drip line of the limbs.

To maintain the tree’s structural beauty and health, you should prune it as needed to remove weak forks, crowded branches, and dead limbs. It’s best to prune right after flowering or in late fall while the tree is dormant.

Most diseases affecting the redbud are caused by fungal infections, including verticillium wilt, canker or dieback, and leaf spots. Older trees are especially vulnerable. Early identification followed by removal of the affected areas is the most effective treatment.

The foliage of ‘Forest Pansy’ emerges a dark purple, gradually turning burgundy red as the leaves develop. Photo by: Susan A. Roth.


  • The blossoms of redbuds look very similar to pea blossoms because the trees are in the same legume plant family (Fabaceae). The blossoms are also edible and can add a bright, citrusy taste to salads. The unopened buds can also be pickled and used as a caper substitute.
  • Although redbuds will grow in partial shade, they will produce more blossoms when exposed to full sun.
  • Because the redbud is native to a wide range of climates, it’s important to plant a tree started from locally harvested seed. These trees perform better and are more cold-hardy when grown in their native environment.
  • The eastern redbud was adopted in 1937 as the state tree of Oklahoma, where it grows throughout the valleys and ravines in early spring, painting the landscape pink.


The Redbud Festival in Denton, Texas (also known as the “Redbud Capital of Texas”) is the city’s official Arbor Day event. Held every April, this community festival traces its roots back to an annual Texas Woman’s University festival held from the 1930s until 1981 to celebrate the school’s beautification and tree planting efforts.

The annual Honaker, Virginia, Redbud Festival, celebrated since 1981, takes place every April, when the city erupts into a brilliant display of pink, with thousands of redbud trees heralding the coming of spring. The event features live music, games, pageants, a canoe race, and auto show.

The Redbud Festival in Columbus, Wisconsin, rejoices the awakening of its redbud trees in mid-May with special events throughout the city, a city-wide garage sale, sidewalk sales, and the Columbus prince and princess contest.

Enjoy garden travel? Check out our local self-guided day trips and other travel destinations. Sign up for our Garden Travel Newsletter to be alerted when new travel opportunities are available!


Flowering Trees for Residential Gardens

The famous pea-like flowers are not only pretty but edible. Add a handful to a salad or to summer rolls for a burst of crisp sweetness.

Above: One cultivar offers eye-poppingly neon pink blossoms: ‘Appalachian Red’ is not exactly red. Above: And if redbud pink is not your thing, choose cultivars such as ‘Royal White’, ‘Texas White’, and ‘Alba’ for their cool and calm white blooms.

If you would like an alternative to green leaves, ‘Forest Pansy ‘ has deeply purple foliage.

Above: In late spring the trees leaf out and flowers are transformed into seedpods resembling snap peas.

The appealingly heart-shaped foliage rounds out the slender trees and creates deep shade beneath the branches. In fall the leaves turn a bright yellow.

Cheat Sheet

  • Some subspecies of Cercis canadensis will tolerate drier conditions: Ask for C. canadensis var. mexicana and C. canadensis var. texensis at native-plant nurseries.
  • Redbud is the state tree of Oklahoma.
  • Native Americans enjoyed the flowers as food.
  • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew the tree in their gardens at Mount Vernon and Monticello.

Above: Photograph by MFDavis via Flickr.

Keep It Alive

  • Native to states with high annual rainfall, eastern redbud needs plenty of moisture and good drainage.
  • Apply a layer of mulch to conserve soil moisture (do not mound it around the trunk, or the tree will rot).
  • If planted in a container, choose one 24 inches or more in diameter, and monitor water closely (do not forget essential drainage holes).
  • Redbuds are very stressed by a brief drought; stress makes them prone to disease (just like humans).
  • If a branch is injured, prune it off cleanly: Injuries serve as portals for the fungi that cause dieback and Verticillium wilt in redbuds.

Above: Photograph by Patrick Standish via Flickr.

See more of our favorite flowering trees in our curated design guide to Trees 101, including Apple Trees 101, Dogwood Trees 101, and Lemon Trees 101. For more inspiration, see:

  • Cherry Blossoms: 6 Flowering Trees to Grow at Home
  • 8 Cold-Climate Flowering Shrubs and Small Trees for Early Spring
  • Flowering Magnolias: 7 Favorite Trees to Plant

Plant Care 101: Eastern Redbud Tree

Rich color, lighthearted blooms and easy, effortless vibes – there’s a lot to love when it comes to springtime. And now that we’re in the thick of the season, it’s the perfect time to highlight one of our seasonal staples: The Eastern Redbud Tree.

This eye-catching favorite boasts a deep pink color that stands out amongst other flowering varieties. Plus, it’s super easy, from planting to care and beyond, especially with ourpointers.

Scouting the Area

The first thing on the list? Selecting the perfect area for the Eastern Redbud. Luckily, it’s easy but it is important, so knowing its needs is important.

For starters, the Eastern likes full to partial sun, which means about 4 to 8 hours of sunlight per day and some protection from harsh afternoon exposure. And itperforms best in growing zones 4 through 9, with cold hardiness down to -20 degrees.Generally, the Eastern Redbud does well in just about any climate, so long as it has a bit of sun and well-drained soil.

And when you’re finally ready to plant, it’s effortless. Simply dig ahole that’s about twice the width of your tree’s root ball, place yourEastern RedbudTree, and backfill the soil. Finally, water the surrounding soil to settle your tree’s roots.

Spring and fall are the perfect seasons to plant, by the way. Just ensure you’ve waited until after the final frost in spring, or ensure you plant before the first frost in fall.

Ongoing Care

But thebest news? Plantingis the hardest part – seriously.When it comes to preparing your Eastern Redbud Tree for a long life, the first part is simple.

The next step is setting a watering schedule, but don’t be daunted: This all-important component is effortless, too.For your Eastern Redbud, we recommend watering about once weekly or checking your soil.

To check your soil, stick your finger in, about 2 or 3 inches down. If the soil is dry here, water until the surrounding soil is moist but not oversaturated. Climate does play a role, so you may have to water yourEastern Redbuda week during hot summers or just once everytwo or threeweeks duringchillier months.

And watering later in the evening, after the heat of the day has subsided, is ideal.

To shape future growth, pruningyour Eastern Redbud while it’s young is a must.

Prune the tree in early summer, after theEastern has finishedblooming. Begin the pruning process by removing any larger lower branches and branches that cross over each other or rub together.And when you cut the branches close to the trunk, avoid leaving any stubs.

If you find that several branches need to be removed,prune them over the a course of a couple of months for best results. And in the late winter, prune any deador diseased wood, as well as tiny twigs and branches that have turned brown.Finally, remove shoots that are coming up from the bottom or out of the trunk directly.

FGT Tip:Sterilize your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol for a healthy, super clean cut!

Fertilizing and Finale

Last but not least: Fertilizing. It’s like the cherry on top for your Eastern Redbud. In early spring, apply a complete fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, in granular form. Granular is a dry, pelleted fertilizer.

Spread your fertilizer evenly around the root zone of the plantand follow the label instructions. This fertilizing process, combined with maintaining several inches of organic mulch year-round, should be sufficient to feed the soil.

Basically, if you’re looking for springtime colorand crisp views that are hassle free,look no further than the Eastern Redbud. It’s the symbol of the season for a reason, after all.Check out more aboutthis fresh favorite here!

Texas Redbud

Plant of the Week

David Rodriguez

The promise of spring is upon us! Redbud trees, with their vibrant, purplish-hued blooms, are an excellent indicator of warmer days ahead, and the redbuds are now blooming all over San Antonio. Redbuds (or “Judas tree”) are named for trees and shrubs in the genus, Cercis. They are handsome plants in the family, Leguminosae (pulse family), and in early spring, are covered with different shades of deep rose, pink and purple or (rarely) white flowers that resembling pea blossoms. According to “Old World” lore, an ancient species redbud was the tree on which Judas hung himself. The Texas redbud’s most notable attribute is its brilliant, purple-red spring blooms, for which it is widely recommended as a small ornamental landscape tree.

Texas redbud, (Cercis canadensis var. texensis), grows as a deciduous small tree or multi-trunk shrub achieving a height of about 15-20 feet. The Texas redbud differs from the Eastern redbud in that the leaves are rounder, thicker, and very glossy. This variety is more drought and heat tolerant than its Eastern cousin. The Texas redbud is best known for the spring display of purple-red clusters of flowers on bare gray branches. The seed pod is flat, reddish-brown legume that ripens in the fall. Texas redbud is well adapted to the South and Central Texas alkaline soils, and has minimum distribution into both Mexico and Oklahoma.

Texas redbud is usually found growing native along limestone slopes and other upland sites of Central Texas. Texas redbud typically has a multi-trunk with thick, leathery leaves that are slick and shiny green on the top side, and pale green below. Leaves are simple with entire margins. The redbud flowers before the leaves open. The bark is thin, gray or reddish-brown with white “spots,” and densely covered with lenticels.

Planting sites for Texas redbud should be in an area that provides part shade, or full sun in a well-drained soil. Ideally, they tend to grow best as a small under-story tree that receives late afternoon shade. They tend to be happier in the summer time with that extra shading. The Eastern redbud tends to be more susceptible to drought stress and sun scald in our hot summers. Eastern redbuds often show marginal leaf burn in the summer time, due to the extreme heat intensity in our area. For that reason, the Texas redbud is the recommended variety for the San Antonio area.

When planting, Texas redbud trees should be spaced at least 20 feet apart. Do not plant under sprinkler irrigation where it will be watered with the lawn. San Antonio’s alkaline soils are perfect for planting, but please incorporate compost at the time of planting. The planting hole should be dug twice as wide, but at the same depth as the root ball. Trees are typically available and purchased in 5 or 10-gallon nursery pots. Carefully remove the tree from the container, gently supporting the root ball. Loosen the root ball, if there is compacted soil around the roots. Roots may need to be pruned if tightly wound around the pot. Plant the tree so that the root collar is above ground level. Do not cover or touch the tree trunk area with any surplus soil or mulch. A 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree will help in conserving water and aid in quicker establishment. Water the tree thoroughly and consider using a root stimulator.

The ideal time to select and plant your Texas redbud tree is late winter or early spring. Selection is best at your local retail nursery within that time frame. Select trees that are flowering so that you can chose the true color that is you desire. Texas redbud is a beautiful small ornamental under-story tree that can fit into any landscape. Check it out!

There are other redbud varieties to consider planting in your landscape, if you can find them. They include Mexican redbud, ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud or the White redbud. These trees all have their own unique and unusual characteristics.

Mexican redbud is smaller in stature, has smaller, glossier, and more wavy-edged leaves, and is more drought tolerant than the Texas redbud.

‘Forest Pansy’ redbud is an Eastern redbud variety that is a moderate grower to about 20 feet. The main characteristics include red twigs and beautiful, new shimmering, purple/red leaves, which fade to purple-green during the summer. The veins on the back of the leaves are a deep maroon and make a striking contrast with the light grey/green leaf.

White redbuds grow very similar to the Texas variety, except that they bloom white.

Remember, Learn and Have Fun!

David Rodriguez is County Extension Agent-Horticulture, Bexar County. For more information, call the Master Gardener ‘Hotline’ at (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at, click under Horticulture and Gardening.

Growing Redbud Trees: How To Care For A Redbud Tree

Growing redbud trees is a great way to add brilliant color to your landscape. In addition, the care of redbud trees is easy. Continue reading the following redbud tree information to learn how to care for a redbud tree.

Redbud Tree Information

The redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) is a member of the bean family and is known as a Judas tree because according to some, Judas Iscariot used a relative of the redbud to hang himself. This tree is an attractive ornamental tree that is native to the eastern United States but will grow in USDA planting zones 4 through 8.

Mauve-pink blossoms greet the spring, lasting for two to three weeks and adding color to any landscape. Leaves are heart-shaped with a long stem. Redbuds are not large trees and will

reach between 20 and 30 feet in height and 15 to 35 feet in width. The trunk is generally divided close to the ground.

Growing redbud trees in naturalized or woodland areas is popular as is using them for a shrub border or specimen. Redbud trees do not live long and will usually die from disease within 20 years.

Planting a Redbud Tree

Planting a redbud tree is best done in early spring. These ornamental beauties prefer well-drained soil and a partly shaded location.

Once you have selected your site, dig a hole that is at least three times as wide as the tree’s root. Be sure that the root ball is even with the ground when you place the tree in the hole. Once you have your tree placed in the ground, be sure that it is straight and backfill your hole with native soil. Water thoroughly after planting a redbud tree.

How to Care for a Redbud Tree

The care of redbud trees requires minimal effort. Place about 3 inches of mulch around the tree, but not touching the trunk, to help retain moisture.

Prune the redbud in the fall to maintain a natural growth habit and to trim off any dead branches.

Keep the soil moist, but not saturated, while the tree is establishing.

Redbuds occasionally suffer from canker problems or battle tree borers. Be sure to obtain proper diagnosis before treating your tree for disease or insect infestation.

Redbud Tree

Redbud – Cercis Canadensis For Sale Affordable, Grower Direct Prices Tennessee Wholesale Nursery

Redbud’s spectacular purple flowers every spring are awesome. One of the first trees to flower in the early spring, it is relatively trouble-free and with lovely foliage that turns a golden shade in fall.

A large shrub or small tree, it will grow to around 20 feet tall and as much across. Fast growing, it soon develops into a lovely specimen that will awe you in the spring with stunning pea-like rose-purple flowers which bloom profusely on bare branches before the appearance of leaves. Flowers are followed by flattened bean-like seedpods that mature in summer.

Leaves are a heart-shaped roundish form. They also are bronzy before they unfurl to a bright green to the transference of yellow color in the fall. However, the shade of yellow during the fall weather is inconsistent.

Buy Fast Growing Redbud Trees

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Redbuds can be used in different landscape settings.

Ideal for tight places or small lots, they look great in groups, make beautiful lawn trees, placed in borders, or in foundation plantings.

Affordable Redbuds For Every Landscape

To shape future growth, prune redbud trees while they’re young. This strengthens the connections of the main leaders to the trunk. Pruning helps form U-shaped junctions so the primary limbs can support leaves and flowers. Prune the tree in early summer after the tree is done blooming.

Redbud Tree

This 20′ to 30′ matured tree has beautiful flowers that bloom in early spring. Found in growing zones 4-9, it will grow in alkaline or acidic soils including heavy types of clay. These quick growers have an annual rate of 13′ up to 24′ Full sun to partial shade tolerance makes this tree very versatile as to location in landscaping. The spread can be up to 35′. Though drought tolerant, they do best when mulched to the drip line of the limbs. Pruning is allowed, but best done in the late fall after the tree has gone dormant.

More buds are present when the trees located in full sun. The flower resembles the pea flower of the legume family. Redbud flowers are edible, have a nutty, citrusy flavor that often used in salads as a garnish. The unopened buds can be pickled and used as a replacement for capers in cooking. Oklahoma adopted the Redbud as their state tree in 1937. The flower colors can range from light to magenta pink, and white. The foliage of the ornamental ranges from green to a deep purple, that can be used to create a bit of drama when planning your landscaping, depending on the variety.

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