Black Pearl Redbud TreeCercis canadensis 'JN16' (PP# 28,627)
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Cercis canadensis 'JN16' (PP# 28,627)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Black Pearl™ Redbud is a large deciduous shrub that grows rapidly, reaching over 6 feet within 5 years and becoming a broad shrub or small tree 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It has leaves that are black-purple in spring, turning dark purple-red as they mature, and holding that dark color all through summer, without fading. In fall the leaves turn yellow flushed with orange. In spring the bare branches are smothered in a profuse and vibrant display of lavender-purple blooms that glow across the landscape. Plant as a specimen on a large lawn, at the back of shrub beds, or edging woodland.
The Black Pearl™ Redbud will develop the darkest leaf colors when grown in full sun, but it also grows well in partial shade. It grows in most soils, from acid to alkaline and sand to clay, as long as it is well-drained and not constantly wet. Once established this plant has good drought tolerance, but does best with a regular supply of water. Pests and diseases are rare, but protect young plants from rabbits and deer. No pruning is needed or desirable.
The best shrubs and trees give us multiple features – gone are the days when a plant stood out for just a week or two of the year. Adding interesting foliage colors has become the ‘go-to’ for getting long-term garden value from every plant, and when it comes to colored foliage reds and purples are always the most popular. For good reason, because these dark-leaf plants are eye-catching and beautiful, adding lots of interest to your garden layout. For rich purple foliage, we haven’t seen anything richer and more durable than the Black Pearl™ Redbud. Sure, there are numerous shrubs that are purple or red on the new growth, but precious few that keep that bold color all through summer, especially when grown in warmer zones. The Black Pearl™ Redbud is different. The foliage is an incredibly dark color – almost black – and that richness stays and stays all summer. Plus, the spring display is spectacular – and that is no exaggeration. Visible from a mile away, the vibrant purple-pink blooms set the landscape aglow, with an image that stays in your memory long after the blooms have gone – until the next year.
The Black Pearl™ Redbud is a large shrub or small tree that grows rapidly, becoming in time up to 20 feet tall and at least that wide. Within 5 years it will be over 6 feet tall and wide, and won’t take long to reach a substantial size. It forms a multi-stemmed bush, with dense foliage and compact branches, rather than the more open form typically seen in redbuds. Young shoots have smooth, semi-glossy bark that is dark purple. Mature bark is very dark black-brown with a slightly rough surface, and the branches form an intricate and attractive silhouette against the background in winter. The leaves are beautiful heart shapes, 5 to 6 inches long and wide. The surface of young leaves is very glossy, turning softly satin as they mature. The upper surface of new leaves is a stunning dark purple – so dark it is almost black. As the leaves mature they turn to a rich and dark reddish purple, while the undersides are a lighter tone. Unique in this variety, that dark coloring holds throughout the summer months, even in hot zones, until in fall they turn a standout bright yellow with greenish to mustard tones, tinted with pale orange – a lovely show and such a contrast to the dark spring and summer colors.
Flowering takes place in early to mid-spring – redbuds are some of the first bushes to bloom in the garden. Flowers open on bare branches, not just on young ones but also sprouting directly from the older branches, in clusters. Blooming is profuse, with many blossoms, making a wonderful and powerful show. Each flower is small and shaped like a pea flower, about 1 inch long, and a vivid reddish purple. The display is spectacular, vibrant, and a real stand-out in any garden. A few brown seed pods may be produced, not usually visible until the fall leaves have dropped.
This shrub might look cute when young, but this is not a little accent plant but a small tree that won’t take so long to reach 20 feet tall and up to 25 feet wide. Consider this when planting, and plant at least 12 feet away from a wall or boundary, and from other plants. This is a bush for the back of large shrub beds, as a specimen on a large lawn, or in an open landscape.
The Black Pearl Redbud is incredibly hardy, thriving in all but the coldest parts of the country. Fully hardy in zone 5 it grows just as well in zone 9 – and everywhere in between.
Full sun will give you the best foliage color on your Black Pearl Redbud, but you can plant it in partial shade too, with just a few hours of direct sun, and it will still thrive. Despite its exotic beauty this is an easy and adaptable plant, growing in almost all well-drained soils. Acid or alkaline, sand or clay – it isn’t choosy, but don’t plant in wet places or very dry ones. Once established it has excellent drought tolerance, and it is very adaptable.
Pests and diseases are very rare on the Black Pearl Redbud, but rabbits and deer can be a problem, especially with young plants, so provide some protection in the early years. This plant is best allowed to develop naturally, just removing weak, dead and overcrowded branches as it develops. You can train it up into a multi-stem tree or leave it to form a spreading bush. It is naturally dense and bushy so it doesn’t need or benefit from frequent trimming – let nature guide it, and consider the final size when choosing a planting spot.
The eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is an American native plant, found growing all the way from the Great Lakes to Florida and inland as far as Nebraska and eastern Texas. It is the best redbud for cooler, damper parts of the country. In hot, dry areas, choose a variety of the western redbud, Cercis occidentalis, hardy to zone 7. The wild plant has green leaves, but several red-leaf forms have been created by plant breeders. For spring color one of the best is ‘Ruby Falls’, created earlier this century by Dennis Werner and Layne Snelling, from Raleigh, North Carolina. Separately, back in 2006, Ray and Cindy Jackson of Jackson Nursery in Belvidere, Tennessee, discovered a chance seedling with yellow leaves they named The Rising Sun™ (‘JN2’). In 2012 Ray and Cindy crossed these two plants together, and the next year, among the seedlings they grew, one stood out for its very dark foliage, which stayed purple-red throughout summer, unlike ‘Ruby Falls’, which turns more greenish when the summer arrives. They patented it as ‘JN16’ and released it under the Garden Debut® brand with the trademark name of Black Pearl™.
We love the richness of the leaf coloring on this spectacular shrub, and how it lasts all summer, and so will you. So does everyone else, so the demand is enormous, but the supply is limited. Order now or they will all be gone when you come back.