Lavender Twist RedbudCercis canadensis 'Covey'
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Cercis canadensis 'Covey'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Lavender Twist® Redbud is a remarkable small tree with cascading branches growing from a central trunk. It reaches about 6 feet tall, and spreads into a wide, arching umbrella form. In early spring the bare branches are smothered in dense clusters of purple-pink blooms, and the heart-shaped leaves are tinted red at first, turning a unique blue-green for summer, and yellow in fall. Grow this beautiful plant as a lawn specimen, among shrubs, in your oriental-style garden, in woods or in a large pot. Wherever you grow it you will love it.
The Lavender Twist® Redbud is the only weeping redbud in existence that will grow in the North. It is hardy in much of zone 4 and in all warmer zones as well. It grows best in full sun, with some afternoon shade in hot areas. Moist, well-drained soil is best, and it has moderate tolerance of drought and heat. Pests and diseases don’t bother it, and deer leave it alone. No special pruning or training is needed to maintain its beautiful weeping form.
Some of our best garden plants are the result of careful breeding programs, carried out over years by highly-trained scientists. We enjoy the beauty of others only because of pure chance and good luck – a sharp-eyed person spotted something different. That was certainly the case with the Lavender Twist Redbud, a unique weeping redbud that was found by pure chance and preserved by family love. We will explain more later, but this beautiful plant truly is unique for northern gardens, and nothing like it has been seen since it first saw the light of day in the 1960s.
The Lavender Twist Redbud is a shrub or small tree that has branches growing downwards, instead of up. Left to itself it will form a low, scrambling plant, twisting and turning and forming a low mound. To give it a more graceful and elegant form, we had our growers attach it to a short, upright stem, so that it would cascade like a partially-opened umbrella, with branches spreading outwards and downwards. With the ‘leg-up’ the trunk gives it, it will naturally grow 6 to 8 feet tall, but with staking you could grow it a few feet taller. From its early narrow form, it will widen and arch outwards, covering an area up to 8 feet across, or perhaps even more.
Early spring is the highpoint of the year for the Lavender Twist Redbud, because that is when its bare branches are illuminated by masses of small flowers, in clusters all along both the younger and older branches. These are in groups of 4 to 10 blossoms, each one about a ½ inch across, like the flowers of pea plants. They are colored a bright, vibrant light purple-pink, and a bush in bloom is glorious, glowing across your garden as a bright sign that spring has arrived. Blooming lasts for about 3 weeks, and then the flowers develop into seed pods. These are about 3 inches long, broad and flat, dark green at first, becoming a warm brown as they ripen. They add an interesting touch to the winter, when the bare branches, with their warm, dark-brown bark stands out against snow or grass.
In summer the graceful mounding branches of the Lavender Twist Redbud are covered in heart-shaped leaves 3 to 5 inches long, with pointed tips. When these first open in spring they are tinted red, and as they mature they become a rich blue-green color, with a matte surface. Then in fall, they turn bright yellow for a final flourish. The attractive foliage makes sure that even when not in bloom this plant brings value and interest to your garden. Grow it as a specimen in a lawn, or in a bed of mixed shrubs. Place it by a pond or stream, or in a large rock garden. Make it a feature in an oriental-style garden or use it in a large planter of any style. Grow it on the margins of a wooded area – wherever you grow this plant it will bring character and beauty.
The Lavender Twist Redbud is a hardy plant, and it thrives in most of zone 4, and certainly in zones 5 and all the way south into zone 9. It grows best in full sun, although in warmer zones and drier soils it will benefit from some afternoon shade. The soil should be moist, but well-drained, not wet and stagnant. Richer, more fertile soils give the best results, but this plant is not too particular, and certainly easy to grow. If you want a very similar tree, but live in areas that are hot and dry, we suggest the Traveller Weeping Redbud, which is only hardy to zone 6, but grows well in hot conditions and tolerated drought well. This plant is normally free of pests or diseases, and deer generally ignore it. It doesn’t need any trimming or training to keep its weeping form, but you can stake up a branch to make a taller plant. If any vertical, strongly-upright branches develop from the main trunk, these should be removed.
As we said at the beginning, the Lavender Twist Redbud is one of those plants we enjoy purely because of luck. Back in the 1960s a mother was returning from a trip to Florida with her young son. Somewhere along the way the boy had spotted a plant growing while they were taking a break from driving, and he had put it in a pot as a gift for his older sister. When they got home to Westfield, New York, the sister, Connie Covey, planted it in her garden. For years it was forgotten, until a neighbor, helping Connie tidy her garden, removed a large, overgrown lilac tree and found a strange twisted bush growing beneath it. In 1991, Charlie and Nancy Hanks, who had owned the local Westfield Nursery, learned about this plant growing in their town, and took some pieces to nearby Brotzman’s Nursery to have some pieces propagated as gifts. Brotzman’s got one to grow, and they saw the commercial value of this unique plant. They arranged with Mrs. Covey to patent it, which was done in 1998, with the name ‘Covey’ and they started growing it at their nursery in Madison, Ohio. Looking for a more descriptive name, they trademarked Lavender Twist® in 2000, and that is the name we know this plant as today. Almost unique, and the only weeping redbud that can be grown in the north, everyone loves this plant, and they sell very quickly. Make sure you get one by ordering it right away.