Carolina Sweetheart® RedbudCercis canadensis 'NCCC1' (PP# 27,712)
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Cercis canadensis 'NCCC1' (PP# 27,712)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Carolina Sweetheart® Redbud is a striking foliage plant that also delivers in blooms, starting your spring garden off with a hot-pink explosion. The dense blooming on bare stems is exceptional, and the leaves start purple-red, turning pink and then variegated green and white. This fast growing tree will approach 15 feet tall within 10 years, maturing to 30 feet tall and wide. Grow it as a lawn specimen, part of the foundation planting around your home, out in beds, or edging woodlands. It will soon be your special garden sweetheart.
Full sun will give the best foliage colors from the Carolina Sweetheart® Redbud, but it also grows in partial shade. It prefers richer, moist but well-drained soil, but has good drought resistance once well-established. It rarely has any pest or disease problems, but it can be grazed by deer. Water regularly until well-established, and prune when young to develop a multi-stem tree form.
“Spectacular”, “Fabulous”, “Stunning” – it’s a succession of superlatives when it comes to describing the Carolina Sweetheart® Redbud. It’s hard to think of a single other plant that delivers such a beauty punch. From the drop-dead display of hot-pink blooms that light up the spring garden, to the kaleidoscope of leaf colors that follow it, ending with the cool elegance of white and green all summer, if you want a plant that delivers a lot, this is it. Every garden needs a stand-out feature, and this can be the one in your garden, bringing you out to admire it, and stopping the neighbors in their tracks. Growing 20 to 30 feet tall and wide in ideal conditions, it would look fabulous standing on a lawn, or edging a wooded area – the preferred natural location of this native plant. Redbuds are not difficult to grow, and the beauty they bring to your garden is beyond measure. Make this one your special garden sweetheart.
The Carolina Sweetheart® Redbud is a spreading deciduous small tree or large shrub, usually with a multi-stem form and graceful horizontal branches. The smooth bark is dark brown and the intricate network of smaller branches give this tree an elegant winter profile that is always attractive. This is a relatively fast-growing tree, adding about 18 inches a year when young. Within 10 years it will be at least 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide, maturing to as much as 30 feet tall and wide. The heart-shaped leaves are 3 to 4 inches long, with a pointed tip and a rounded base – a real sweetheart look, for sure.
Leaves develop after flowering. The new leaves are a bold reddish-purple color, beginning an amazing sequence of color changes. Next they develop pink zones around the edges, in irregular form, that gradually become whiter. As the leaves mature they become a bright, light green with broad irregular white margins – inner leaves can be predominately green through summer. While the white and green combination keeps things bright and attractive, the new leaves continue to open that vibrant purple, adding dash and flourish to this great tree for much of the summer.
Redbuds are among the very first trees to bloom, so before winter has clearly ended the first blooms will be opening. This tree blooms prolifically from an early age, along young stems and also directly off older branches – a unique feature of redbuds that makes them special. The blooms are small, but profuse, so a tree in bloom is spectacular, especially since they are carried in clusters on bare branches before any leaves appear. The flowers are like pea flowers from your vegetable garden, but vibrant pink-purple – a color that really ‘pops’ and glows right across the garden. There is no doubt this is one of the highlight shrubs of spring. This tree produces very few of the brown seed pods seen on wild redbuds.
Grow the Carolina Sweetheart Redbud anywhere in your garden, from planting it in angles of your walls around the house to growing it at the margins of wooded areas. It looks great on a lawn or planted in beds, and beautiful near water, where a reflection will double that beauty. Allow plenty of room for its development, and don’t plant closer than 15 feet to walls, roads and property lines. Allow room between it and other shrubs too, and don’t over-plant your beds.
This plant is hardy in warmer areas of zone 4, in a sheltered location, and completely reliable from zone 5 to zone 8. It will also grow in zone 9 where the summers are not too hot and dry.
Although the Carolina Sweetheart Redbud will grow in partial shade, for the best development and continuation of leaf colors, full sun is best. In the hottest zones a little shade in the afternoon is valuable. It should be planted in rich, moist, well-drained soil, and watered regularly, especially during the early years. Established plants have quite good drought resistance, but occasional deep soaks will always be appreciated, especially when growing in full sun.
Pests and diseases don’t bother the Carolina Sweetheart Redbud, but they can be damaged by deer. You can give your tree a more mature look earlier by removing some of the lower branches as it grows, creating a more open, multi-stem form.
Despite its name, the eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is only found in the southernmost part of Ontario. It grows mostly from the Great Lakes south to Florida, spreading west into Texas and Nebraska. We have to thank the collaboration of The North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association and the North Carolina State University for the development of the tree officially known as ‘NCCC1’. It was created by the skilled breeding of Professor Thomas Ranney, a horticulturist at NC State. He took pollen from the variety called ‘Forest Pansy’ and used it on a tree of ‘Silver Cloud’, a green and white variegated variety. The resulting plants were grown together in an isolated group, and then in 2004 seeds were collected from those trees. Among the new seedlings that grew, 19 that all had some form of purple and variegated leaves were selected for study, and in 2009 the best and most colorful was chosen. It was called ‘NCCC1’ and patented in 2017, to benefit the University. The NC Nursery & Landscape Association trademarked the name Carolina Sweetheart® in 2016. This plant was released and distributed by Star® Roses and Plants.
Without doubt, Carolina Sweetheart is the most spectacular plant for foliage effect of all the redbud varieties, and one of the most striking of any foliage plant. It will soon become a feature in your garden, and a special favorite, so order now. We can never keep plants of this quality available for long, so take this opportunity while you can.