The Red Bud tree is a very popular tree because of its showy purple-pink flowers. The Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, is an excellent front-yard tree to accent a shrub border or use as an understory tree near larger trees. It can also be grown as a shrub by trimming it back.
Growing Conditions for a Red Bud Tree
The Eastern Redbud tree grows best in Zones 4-9. It prefers moderately moist soils that are high in organic matter but will grow on drier sites once established. It prefers partial shade but will tolerate full sun and even full shade.
Description of a Red Bud
It will grow from 20-30’ high and can reach 25-35’ at maturity. The Red Bud is a deciduous tree with a spreading form. It has a medium growth pattern and is grown mostly as a specimen plant. The pink-purple flowers open in spring before the leaves appear. The attractive heart-shaped leaves can look tired and spotted by late summer but turn yellow in fall. The layered branches give trees architectural form. The zigzag branch pattern and persistent seedpods add winter interest. Plants grown in southern states are not reliably hardy in the north. You can also find information on budding and grafting trees and shrubs.
Care of Redbud Trees
Plants resent being dug from fields as they get larger, so start with smaller trees. Their moderate growth rate result in a good-looking specimen in a few years. Apply a 2-4” layer of organic mulch around each plant as soon as the ground warms in spring. Replenish as necessary throughout the growing season. Keep the soil evenly moist from spring until the ground freezes in fall. Consistent watering is critical during the first 2 years and helpful throughout the plants entire life.
Feed every other spring with plant food, and water in well to keep the plants vigorous and better able to fend off potential canker problems. Be sure to remove any dead or diseased stems or branches immediately at any time of the year.
The Red Bud Tree is propagated by planting seeds. The seeds have a hard, impermeable coat and require scarification and 5-8 weeks of cold stratification. Seeds sown in place in fall may germinate the following spring.
Diseases of the Red Bud will most likely be Canker, which can kill a tree. Protect the trunk and bark from damage from a lawn mower or string trimmer. Eastern redbud is also susceptible to verticillium wilt.