Bubble Gum RedbudCercis chinensis ‘Big John’
View more from Redbud Trees
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
Cercis chinensis ‘Big John’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Bubble Gum Redbud is a plant that just can’t stop blooming – it has an incredibly heavy flower display even when young, right on the stems and branches. The bright pink blooms lack the purple tones usually seen in redbuds, and they glow even brighter because of that. The dark-green leaves are exceptionally attractive – heart-shaped with a glossy surface. Fall colors are gold and orange and the winter profile of the twisting branches is very beautiful. At 15 feet tall it is a perfect specimen tree for smaller gardens, and it looks great on banks and near large trees.
Planted in full sun, in well-drained soil, the Bubble Gum Redbud will perform perfectly for you. It grows best in warmer zones, including areas with long hot summers where the eastern redbud grows poorly. It is drought resistant when established, untroubled by pests or diseases, and ignored by deer. Prune as needed as soon as the flowers have faded.
Flamboyant; powerful; dramatic; striking – these are all adjectives that come to mind when looking at the Bubble Gum Redbud in bloom. This is a spring bloomer that knocks your socks off, beaming out across the garden in a stunning display of vibrant bright-pink blooms that smother the bare branches. This is a real pink, not the magenta-pink with purple overtones that are usually seen in redbuds. Although superficially similar, this is not a variety of our native redbuds, but a Chinese cousin – not so cold-hardy, it’s true, but more reliable in warmer zones, and with more attractive, slightly glossy leaves – and a love of flowering that means even young plants put on a great display. Growing 10 to 15 feet tall it looks great on a lawn, in shrub beds, or edging a wood. Plant it in a focal point, because this is one plant that is determined to be seen, so make the most of it.
The Bubble Gum Redbud is a deciduous shrub or multi-stem small tree, growing within a few years to 8 feet tall, and maturing at perhaps 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It can be left to grow naturally as a shrub, or trained up into a multi-stem tree, which is perhaps the best way to grow it. The gray bark is smooth and darkens and roughens a little on older stems. With the elegant way, the branches grow out it has a striking winter form, so it’s a year-round attraction in your garden.
The leaves that develop after flowering are more rounded and heart-shaped than in our native redbuds, with a pointed tip, and up to 5 inches long. They are deep-green and glossy, with a slightly leathery texture, keeping this plant attractive all through the summer months. In fall they turn golden-yellow, often with orange shading, making an attractive display.
This is a very early-flowering shrub, blooming in March in warm zones, and in April elsewhere. It is amazingly prolific in blooming, even when young, with dense clusters of flowers all along the branches and the main stems – redbuds bloom directly off older stems, a unique feature that makes them very floriferous. The small flowers are shaped like those of the pea plant, because they are in the same plant family, and they are bright, clear pink, without the purple overtones that make most redbuds bloom magenta, not true pink. Flowering is sometimes followed by the development of flattened pods like beans, up to 5 inches long, with a hard shell that is dark brown by winter. These are usually not noticed until the leaves fall.
You would find it very hard to plant a more dynamic and exciting spring-blooming tree than the Bubble Gum Redbud. Plant it on a lawn, as a multi-stem small tree, on a slope, or edging wooded areas. Grow it in shrub beds, or plant it in a large pot or planter box, where it could be grown for years.
The Bubble Gum Redbud is best grown in warmer areas, especially zones 7, 8 and 9. It will also grow in warm, sheltered spots in zone 6. For colder areas, choose one of the varieties of the eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis.
For best growth, plant your Bubble Gum Redbud in full sun, which will help it bloom well. Although it will grow well in moist but well-drained soils, it is also adapted to drier conditions, and thrives where the summers are hot and long, making it great for dry states. It grows well in poor, rocky and gravel soils too, and is very tough. Avoid areas that are constantly damp and wet – this plant won’t enjoy that at all. Water regularly during the first season, or two seasons in very dry spots, but after that it is drought resistant and low-maintenance.
Generally free of pests or diseases, and untouched by deer, the Bubble Gum Redbud is easy to care for. Some pruning during its early years will be rewarded by a beautifully formed tree. Don’t leave trimming until the branches are large, or you will have permanent scars on the trunks. Prune as needed after flowering, as the new growth is developing.
The Chinese redbud, Cercis chinensis, is a different plant to our native eastern or western redbuds, with relatively minor botanical differences, but a big difference when it comes to growing. This tree is found in the wild growing in central and southern China, around the edges of forests, and on hillsides. The Bubble Gum Redbud could be a hybrid, but its exact origins are not clear. It was named by John Allen of Shiloh Nursery, in Harmony, North Carolina and first listed in 2010. However, because of the quirks of the official registration process for plant names, this plant is correctly called ‘Big John’. This was a name given to it by Heritage Seedlings & Liners, in Salem, Oregon, and officially registered in 2017.
It is great how subtle differences can make all the difference in success with plants, and if you live in warmer areas choose the Bubble Gum Redbud over varieties of the eastern redbud, if you want the best growth and flowering. As well, the unique coloring of this plant makes it truly special, so order now – this rare variety is in very short supply and we can’t guarantee to have it in stock for very long at all.