Found in warm temperate regions throughout the world, Redbud Trees are noted for their small stature, early springtime pink blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves. Redbud Trees are commonly planted as ornamentals because they bloom before the leaves have shown in early spring. Although many Redbud Tree species are limited to small locations, there are two varieties that grow well in the United States: the Eastern Redbud, which is also known as the Judas Tree, and the Western Redbud, which is also known as a California Redbud. In summer, the Redbud Tree will develop its rounded or heart-shaped glossy leaves, keeping its spring flowers for a time during the transition. Both Eastern and Western Redbud Trees are strong, often resisting weather damage. Although often used as accent elements in small gardens, the small size of the Redbud Tree makes it an excellent choice for smaller yards.
Planting a new tree is an investment, so it is important to research and plan carefully before making any decisions. Although Redbud Trees are elegant options for many gardens, they may not work in all locations. Read the quick facts about the Redbud Tree below before examining the following sections in detail to determine if the Redbud Tree is the right choice for the given planting location.
Sun: Plant in full sun. Partial afternoon shade can be beneficial.
Water: Water immediately after planting and once a week for the first full year after planting to a depth of about 3 feet in lieu of rain.
When to Plant: Plant in the middle of autumn or early spring. Cool, rainy weather is best for planting.
How to Buy Redbud Trees
When it comes time to buy a young Redbud Tree sapling, landscapers and gardeners advocate for reputable arborists, such as The Tree Center. In the loving arms of its caretakers, the young Redbud Tree will receive the necessary care its initial stages of growth to ensure later success with proper planting and annual maintenance. If the Redbud Tree is chosen as proper for the planting location, visit The Tree Center to put the Redbud Tree buying process into effect.
How to Plant Redbud Trees
The first step in any planting endeavor is proper research. There are different varieties of Redbud Tree, and most have more than one name. Research carefully to ensure the Redbud variety under consideration will grow well in the planting location. Finally, consider planting preparation prior to ordering from The Tree Center.
Once it is time to order the Redbud Tree, visit The Tree Center for the best young saplings. When the young Redbud arrives, examine it carefully, focusing on the root ball. This is the collection of roots at the base of the tree. The size of the root ball will help determine the size of the hole to be dug.
Dig a hole three times as wide as the Redbud’s root ball. Width is essential. Redbud Trees do also grow deep, so it is important to turn up the soil at the base of the hole to make rooting an easier process for the young tree; however, the hole itself should be an inch shorter than the height of the root ball. The Redbud Tree will settle over time.
Hold the tree vertically in the hole and backfill with soil and water. Gardeners who use mulch should add it now in a 3 inch layer in a 3 foot radius around the base of the tree. It is best to water immediately after mulching.
The soil in which any tree is planted can be essential to its eventual success. Soil composition includes type, pH, macronutrients, micronutrients, drainage ability, as well as several other components. Soil is categorized by its particle size. Clay and silt soils are made up of small sized soil grains. These will often stick to each other, causing thick walls to form in the soil. This will block the movement of air and water. Sand, on the other hand, is made up of large soil grains that move air and water too quickly. A compromise is loam, which is made up of several differently sized particles. Redbud Trees, although somewhat adaptable, prefer loamy soils that are well draining; however, Eastern and Western Redbud Trees have been successful in both clay and sandy-based soils.
Redbud Trees require moderate watering, especially in the first one or two growing seasons, after which they are typically successful with minimal, if any, effort on the part of landscapers. The most important watering occurs immediately upon planting. Water the tree heavily after initial planting, as the loosened soil will often not hold as much water as needed for the tree. Then, water the Redbud Tree with about 3 gallons of water once a week. If more than an inch of rain falls during the week, skip the weekly watering. After the first one or two seasons, the Redbud Tree will likely no longer require waterings, except in extremely dry locations.
Mulch and Fertilizer
Many gardeners use mulch and fertilizer to increase the output of garden blooms and crops. These are tools not always applicable to every tree species. Mulch is beneficial to Redbuds. Mulch helps absorb water and air into the soil, and it is especially valuable if the Redbud is planted in poor soil or dry locations. Natural-based mulches made of wood chips or bark will also dissolve over time, adding to the nutrient matter of the soil in close proximity to the Redbud Tree. If deciding to use mulch, purchase a natural-based variety. Layer the mulch to a depth of 3 inches surrounding the Redbud Tree in a 3 foot radius. Water the mulch, and it will increase the absorption rate of the tree. For areas prone to drought, mulch will also help conserve water.
Fertilizers are generally not recommended for Redbud Trees. If fertilizers are absolutely necessary, consider those with low nitrogen content. Redbud Trees are already high in nitrogen, and they excel at absorbing it from the soil, so it is easy to add too much nitrogen to the soil.
Information on Redbud Trees
Redbud Trees are popular for their low maintenance and pleasing aesthetic nature. The rose-colored springtime blossoms are often early signs of the coming warmth, and they are popular with birds and pollinators. Furthermore, the showy autumn leaves change drastically with the cooling season. Redbuds are not especially cold-hardy, and prefer USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9. Redbud Trees vary in height from under 20 feet to almost 30 feet.
Redbud Tree Varieties and Cultivars
The Cercis genus includes only about 10 species, which fall into the subfamily Caesalpinioideae. These small deciduous trees grow throughout much of eastern Asia and the United States. The two most common species in the United States are the Eastern Redbud, or Judas Tree, and the Western Redbud, or California Redbud.
Eastern Redbud or Judas Tree
The Eastern Redbud usually reaches heights between 20 and 30 feet. The Eastern Redbud is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9, and it is taller than its Western cousin. Eastern Redbuds are not drought tolerant, and they grow best in full sun with partial shade. The Eastern Redbud has blossoms that vary in color between lavender, pink, and red, though they are most typically rose colored. The state tree of Oklahoma, the Eastern Redbud attracts birds, which will eat its seeds during the winter.
Western Redbud or California Redbud
The Western Redbud is slightly smaller than its Eastern cousin, reaching only 20 feet in height. It is also much more drought tolerant, preferring USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 9. Western Redbuds grow best in full sun, and they are more tolerant of poor soil conditions than the Eastern variety. Because of its smaller size, many landscapers choose the Western Redbud for tight spots or small gardens. The magenta blossoms of the Western Redbud are often the first sign of spring, and the flowers will appear covering the leafless branches and trunk in late winter.
Benefits of Redbud Trees
Redbud Trees are commonly planted in the United States for their beauty and easy maintenance. For first time tree planters, the Redbud Tree offers a quick reward, as its early blossoms will quickly delight the neighborhood. Furthermore, after the first two seasons, most Redbud Trees require little follow-up maintenance. Pruning is not usually required, though some removal of dead branches can benefit future growth. Most Redbuds are planted as accents for gardens, due to their small size, though they also work as ornamental trees. All Redbud Trees are valued for their color; their unique rosy blossoms add color and interest to every yard in which they are planted.
Redbud Tree Concerns
Western Redbud Trees are tolerant of short droughts, though manual watering should take place during extended droughts. Eastern Redbuds require consistent and continual watering, and this variety is more prone to drying out. There are several diseases and pests that may also affect Redbud Trees, including Leaf anthracnose, verticilllium wilt, and botryosphaeria canker. The latter displays itself with legions on twigs and leaves, which will eventually kill the tree. Wood borers and beetles have also been known to feed on and damage Redbud Trees.