What’s blooming in mid April – Redbud


How many Redbud are enough in a garden? Of course it depends on the size of your plot, but in my one acre plus garden I have six, which could be enough. Or nearly enough.p1011132

I am convinced that there is no better tree than our native dogwood, though it occasionally suffers from mildew, blights, and cankers. It’s beauty in flower, leaf, and berry is unsurpassed, but our native Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) can equal dogwood in many respects, and is tough as nails.redbud2

Both dogwood and redbud are considered small trees, maturing to less than thirty feet in height, and both flourish in the same woodland settings. The rosy-pink flowers reaching for sunlight at the edge of wooded areas along highways in early April are the native redbud, and though they will grow in shady spots they bloom best with more sun, and will tolerate full sun.

Redbuds appreciate a good garden soil with adequate moisture, but will survive in dry clay soils. Provided with a well suited location and regular moisture, redbud will bloom prolifically, follow with large, deep-green, heart-shaped leaves, and then yellow Fall color.

While the green leaved native tree is wonderful, there are a number of selections with colorful leaves, and the combination of Spring bloom and colorful foliage is enough to make you want to have one of every kind. For several cultivars I have two.   redbudforestpansy32

Forest Pansy redbud is the most popular of the redbud varieties with red-purple leaves that will fade somewhat as the season goes on. I have one planted in an area that has grown too shady from large forest maples so that it barely blooms, but still gets red leaves. The arching branches provide a canopy for that section of the garden.

The other Forest Pansy is in full sun. It is covered in blooms several days later than the other redbuds in the garden, and since the area it is planted in is just above an earthen pond its leaves stay much darker than other Forest Pansy’s I have seen in drier conditions. This has to be one of the finest small trees for the garden.dsc00532

‘Silver Cloud’ redbuds are blotched with white, and early in the Spring with pink. From a distance the tree appears to be in bloom through the Summer. There are reports that Silver Cloud will fade in Summer’s heat, and also that it may revert back to green. I have two Silver Cloud planted so that they are shielded from the late day sun, but in an otherwise sunny location, and they fade so slightly that it’s hardly worth mention. I have had no reversion, so I don’t consider this much of a worry.

Though Silver Cloud is not widely available, it is a grand tree and should be more popular. I wouldn’t trade one of mine for two of any other tree.

cercis-hearts-of-gold1Unless the two were ‘Hearts of Gold’ redbud, then I’d consider it. This is a relatively new introduction, and a wonderful tree for a spot in the garden that is shaded from the hot afternoon sun, though it should not be too shady because yellow leafed trees fade to a sickly looking green in shade. There are plenty of green redbuds that should attract attention.

p1011142‘Lavendar Twist’ or ‘Covey’ is a green leafed weeping redbud. It is quite compact, my tree is almost ten years old, has grown to touch the ground, but has not spread appreciably. This is an excellent tree for a small garden, even a townhouse garden where almost every tree gets too large.

Though this wraps up my redbud collection there are other outstanding selections worth considering. All bloom at about the same time, are sized similarly, and all are comparably trouble-free. Texas and Oklahoma redbuds are similar trees that are adapted to the harsh conditions of those areas, but are fine small trees for any garden. Leaves of both are heavier, and have a waxy sheen that help it deal with the harsh Summers. There are white buds and pink buds, and the differences, I think, explain themselves. The native redbud will do just fine for any garden, but if you want a bit of splash to last through the year redbud has plenty to offer.

72 Comments Add yours

  1. Sue Masters says:

    We planted a 5-6′ tall redbud last mothers day. It didn’t too very much last year. And, as of today, nothing appears to be happening. It is in full morning to mid afternoon sun, with nothing else planted around it. Any idea if we have killed it? Or is there some type of booster I could try to bring it around. Thanks!

    1. davermfarm says:

      If your redbud doesn’t have flowers or leaves by now I’m afraid there won’t be anything you can do to revive it. Redbuds often don’t have good fibrous root systems in smaller sizes, and the roots are easily damaged in handling. When roots are damaged the stress to the tree will result in fewer and smaller leaves, and the possibility that the tree won’t survive the extremes of Summer and Winter.

      1. Sue Masters says:

        I was afraid that would be the case. We bought it at a local nursery last spring. Unfortunately it was on sale and didn’t come with a guarantee. I guess I’ve learned my lesson! Thanks for the reply though.

  2. Cindy Eaves says:

    I planted a forest pansy redbud last fall and it never leafed out; however, a small green leafed redbud is growing out of the ground next to it. Is this a forest pansy or what? I have given up the original tree for dead but am hesitant to dig it up until I know what I still have. Either way, I will keep the little sapling, maybe just somewhere else.
    Thanks for any advice you may have.

    1. davermfarm says:

      Forest Pansy redbuds are grafted at the base. When a regular green-leafed redbud is a foot or two tall the grafter makes a small slit near the base of the tree and inserts a sliver that has been cut from the tip growth of a Forest Pansy. This sliver grows along with the host until it becomes part of the tree. The still small trunk of the green tree is then cut off.

      This is a similar to the process that tree growers use to grow 5-in-1 apples and other oddities that have multiple types of fruits or flowers on one tree, except that the host tree is cut away and the Forest Pansy remains with the original root system. This is done because Forest Pansy will not come true from seed (seedlings are likely to be green-leafed). The other alternative to propogate a Forest Pansy would be to root a cutting, but some trees don’t develop good root systems, so trees such as redbud and dogwoods are propogated by grafting (though it is actually referred to as “budding”, since the graft from the Forest Pansy is only a bud).

      If the graft doesn’t take, often because the tree is stressed from the transplant, the top (grafted) portion of the tree dies, but the root system still has enough vigor to survive. If you cut the trunk off above where the live growth is the green tree will grow normally, but of course, not as a Forest Pansy.

  3. Linda P. says:

    I have a redbud tree and doing really well. It has added new brances but the leaves are green not the deep purple red color. It has been green for a while. Why does this new branch don’t have the deep purcple red color? What should I do or not do?

    1. davermfarm says:

      Trees such as Forest Pansy are genetic mutations, called “sports”, and are subject to reverting back to the original form. I’ve never seen this with Forest Pansy, but I suspect that this is what has happened with your tree.

      The green redbud is likely to be more vigorous, so the green branch should be pruned out. If not, the green will likely grow more quickly and potentially take over the entire tree. Forest Pansy grows slowly enough that once the reversion is pruned you might not experience another problem.

  4. Leigh says:

    I am looking to replace a tree lost in the drought a year ago. I’d like to replace it with an 6′-8′ “forest pansy redbud.” I don’t know much about these trees. I researched to find the name, there is one by our bank I have admired. When is the optimal time to plant & where can I find or order one locally? (zip 75025)

    1. davermfarm says:

      Forest Pansy redbud is relatively carefree, and I would guess that it should be available at most garden centers in your area. The best time to plant is after the leaves have dropped, but before flowering next Spring. I would feel safe planting as soon as temperatures cool off. Although redbuds in the garden center might not look good now, with the foliage color faded from Summer heat, these have gone through the transplant successfully and are unlikely to have problems.

  5. Theresa says:

    I had planted 2 Red Bud trees in my yard, I believe last spring, during last years summer the had great folaige. However, while waiting for them to bloom this spring, well they don’t look that great. The tops of them seem to have died but the base (trunk) are thick and green with little foliage on them. I love these trees and believe I planted them in a great spot but hate to think they are purely dead, can anyone help me with this issue? Help will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Dave says:

      I would not be too quick to write off a tree planted a year ago. While trees are getting established it is not unusual for them to flower and leaf a bit later. If your redbuds have some blooms there is still a possibility that it will leaf fully, or it could have suffered some partial dieback so that it will not leaf to the branch tips but could still be okay with some pruning of the dead tips.
      The answer will be clear in the next couple weeks.

  6. Theresa says:

    Thanks for replying, I think the scariest part for me is by doing the thumb test on the branches, the result was a light tanish colored bark. But underneath the branches near the trunk there is some foliage and one tree underneath has little blooms. Both trees the trunk is green. I thought that maybe they were on theyre way out. What happens if the full branches seem to have nothing on them in a couple weeks? Does it mean that they can’t be recovered?

  7. Dave says:

    If your redbuds don’t have leaves or flowers in the next couple weeks then I’m afraid that there’s no hope for their survival.

  8. Kurt O. says:

    Hi Dave,
    I planted a hemlcok in the front corner of my yard about 5 years ago. In the last couple of years it seems to be dieing off so I plan to cut it down and plant a redbud in the same general area.Redbuds are absolutely one of my most favorite trees, I have 2 planted in my back yard. My problem is that the area that the hemlock is has very rocky and not so great soil. After I cut the hemlock down, I plan on hauling in dirt to make a raised bed and then plant a redbud as the center piece of that bed. Do you think a redbud will be a good choice for this spot? I’ve read that redbuds can grow in most any type of soil, is this true? It will get full sun for about 75% of the day. Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Dave says:

      This situation sounds ideal for redbud, though it is adaptable to a wide range of conditions. I wouldn’t even worry about the soil too much, redbud will be much more forgiving than the hemlock.

  9. Kathryn Slye says:

    Hi Dave!
    I’m so glad I found your website! We planted a beautiful 6ft tall Lavender Twist redbud last spring at our house on the East End of Lond Island (Hamptons). We made sure it got lots of sun, good fertilization, and good water, and it seemed to thrive last year. Then we had a very snowy winter up here in NY. This spring the top of the tree bloomed nicely but several of the large lower branches (some are 2″+ diameter) have shown no sign of blooming or leaves and are bare. I have felt/scratched a few and some seem to still be alive while others are clearly dead. However, the dead branches have short 4-5″ green shoots coming out of the knot where they attach to the main trunk. So, I have two questions: 1) If I cut off the dead branches, will the short green shoots turn into new branches in that location, or will the bottom of the tree just be hollow and branchless? 2) Should I also cut off the branches that still seem to be alive but have no blooms/leaves to give the tree the chance to put a new branch in place, or should I give it more time to see if those bare branches might fill in? Thanks so very much for your help and advice!!

    1. Dave says:

      Your weeping redbud is grafted onto an upright redbud’s trunk. When the tree is stressed it will grow from the host trunk, and if this growth isn’t pruned off it will become more vigorous and can kill the weeping portion that has been grafted onto it. Prune the shoots and prune any branches that are clearly dead and there is a good chance that the tree will recover.

      It is not unusual for redbuds to lose some lower limbs annually, but with a more recently planted tree the culprit is more likely to be stress from the transplant which will be less every year as the roots develop. If we experience prolonged dry periods this summer the redbud will benefit from some added irrigation.

      While redbuds are very winter hardy, the heavy snows on the east coast this past winter have caused some problems for them. I don’t know if the constant damp soils have injured roots, but I am seeing an abnormal amount of damage, particularly to newly planted trees.

  10. Sherri B says:

    We planted a redbud about 3 years ago and it’s never bloomed yet. One year it got maybe 3 blossoms on it but that was it. It has always leafed out very nicely and is about 9 feet tall. This spring, it still doesn’t have any blossoms but looks like it’s covered with buds all along the branches. Everyone in the neighborhood thinks it’s dead but this is how it looks every spring and then it finally leafs out…This year it has 4 new sprouts or branches growing out of the trunk with heart shaped purplish /red leaves. Do you think it’s dead? It gets over 8 hours of sun and the only thing around it is sedum. Any thoughts?

    1. Dave says:

      It sounds to me like your redbud has root damage of some sort. It could be planted too low, or the the hole that it was planted in might be holding water because of surrounding clay soil that doesn’t perk or that the soil in the hole is too rich and holds water. With a root problem a tree will often sprout leaves late in the spring, bloom weakly or not at all, and eventually it will overcome the problem or die. The sprouts from the trunk tell you that the tree isn’t dead but it’s probable that the branches are. It doesn’t seem like the prospects for the tree are good.

  11. Linda S says:

    I live in Vacaville, CA. I just purchased my Lavendar Twist. I want to plant it in an area that gets direct sunlight in the late morning only. The area is sheltered from wind and the hot summer sun. Soil is clay. I have read so much conflicting information. I can amend the soil but will my tree get enough lignt? Any advise you can offer is appreciated.

    1. Dave says:

      I don’t think that there’s a definitive answer other than “see what happens”, but redbud is an understory tree suited to growing in shady situations. If there is too much shade then flowering might be diminished, but the tree will grow, and the likelihood is that flowering will not be effected.

  12. Kathryn says:

    I have planted a Lavender twist weeping redbud April 3rd 2009 in my front yard in partial sun in South Carolina. It had beautiful leaves the first year and flowerd beautifully and now it is the end of July and it has seedpods still hanging from it that should be only in the witnter or supposedly from what I have read October and through winter. It also has a few, very few crunchy curled up brown leaves, but mostly brown seed pods hanging from it that are 2 to 3″ long. I planted this tree outside my daughters bedroom window as an arbor tree marking her 18th Birthday, so It is sentimental… Can someone please tell me what to do? I called local nursery that I got from and she didn’t even understand the seed pods? If anyone has any help or Information can you please help me to save our tree!

    1. Dave says:

      The seedpods are not unusual, several of the redbuds in my garden have numerous pods in late June. I thought that heavy seeding was a sign of a tree in stress, but these redbuds appear in ideal condition.

      There is little doubt that your redbud is suffering, with sparse and brown leaves, and its only chance for survival will be to water it regularly through the summer (no fertilizer). Once a tree reaches this point the damage is usually irreversible, but there’s no harm in trying to revive it.

  13. Martha Garcia says:

    Hi I’m very new at this please have patience! I plan on purchasing an Eastern Redbud tree for my courtyard. My question is it to risky to plant my tree in August? I live in Sacramento, California Zone 9.

    1. Dave says:

      There is no question that trees are best planted when they are dormant, or when conditions are cooler. However, I’m comfortable planting at any time if I’m going to be around to water. In California you might not get appreciable rainfall for months, so you’ll need to be prepared to water a couple times a week for until nature takes over. Trees are most fragile immediately after planting, so for the first several weeks they require close attention.

      1. Martha Garcia says:

        Thank you for your quick response to my question regarding when to plant an Eastern Redbud tree. I plan on waiting until April to plant the tree. I would like to plant Camelia’s, and Augusta Gardenia’s and later the Eastern Redbud tree? Before I plant anything I would like to know how to prepare and soften the hard clay soil in my courtyard? Your advice is deeply appreciated.
        I live in Sacramento, California

  14. Dave says:

    I am not a proponent of attempting to amend clay soils for planting. If you decide to undertake the project it will require considerable amounts of organic materials and labor. Amending only planting holes can lead to waterlogged roots since water will percolate through the clay slowly.

    My preferred method is to plant in raised beds, similar to how many vegetables are grown. Several inches of good garden soil will provide excellent drainage for plants, and roots grow readily. The majority of roots for most plants are in the top several inches, so there is little danger that the root zone will dry out more quickly than if planted in the clay.

    As an added benefit, I find that the contours of gradually sloped, mounded beds are more interesting than flat planting areas. As a last resort I wouldn’t hesitate to plant in the clay. Plants should be planted with the roots slightly above ground level to improve drainage, and if you mulch with a compost or wood mulch the soil will improve as the organic materials decay.

  15. Martha says:

    I live in Sacramento California and I am getting ready to plant a saga palm in front of my courtyard on the ground due to the fact that it wasn’t doing well in a pot. I’ve already planted one and had planned today to plant the other until I read some comments on a website that these palm are very toxic to dogs and humans. I’m concerned on what I read about dogs dying and even the leaves can cause problems if you get poked by the leaves while planting. I do have sensitive skin and I refuse to let that get in the way of my love for planting. Please give me your expert advice should I be concerned planting saga palms, one on each side of my courtyard entry? Should I be worried about having the leaves puncture my skin while planting?

    1. Dave says:

      Sago palms are not cold hardy in Virginia, so they are used only as indoor and patio plants. Though the plants are poisonous, the incidence rate is not known. There are many common plants that are poisonous to some degree, yet problems are unusual. Most leaves, and certainly Sago palms, are not particularly tempting to eat except for some dogs that eat anything.

      Common plants such as tomatoes and potatoes are quite poisonous, yet the incidence of poisoning is rare. Each family must assess their own level of risk, and as my family grew I accepted this minimal risk to kids and dogs.

  16. Martha says:

    Back in July 2010 I had asked when was the best time to plant an Eastern Redbud tree and you recommended waiting until April. I held off planting in August unfortunetly April came and went today I finally purchased a Forest Pansy Eastern Redbud tree and planted it today. I was told to buy compost to help the soil break up since it is clay soil. Hopefully it doesn’t get water logged. My next question regarding the second tree I purchase the “Gold Leaf Eastern Redbud tree,” Can this tree be planted 3 ft away from my house? I read the roots grow 15 ft wide. I want to plant this tree as soon as possible and I’m hoping I can plant it in the same area as the Forest Pansy which is planted approx. 15 ft. away from my house. Your advice is deeply appreciated.

    1. Dave says:

      The roots of the redbud are not an issue at all. The roots of most trees will detour around obstructions (such as houses). The issue is that redbuds spread fifteen to twenty feet, so branches will grow into the house. Of course, when the branches reach the structure they also detour, but they will often rub against the side of the house (making a screeching sound) or damage window screens.

      I have planted tall growing Japanese maples far too close to my house. The branches have ruined the screens, but I knew I was planting them too close and I was prepared for the minor damage. My wife is not so happy with the arrangement, but I’ve achieved the design effect I was looking for.

  17. Martha says:

    I’m very tempted to plant my Eastern Redbud next to my house. Since the branches will could detour around my house. The only potential problem is that the inside of my house is the kitchen area where my gas stove and refrigerator are located. These appliances are hooked up from under my house. The electrical outlet is next to one of the columns. where the tree would be planted. Are these reasons for me not to plant this tree? I’m thinking as long as the roots don’t puncture anything than I can have 2 Eastern Redbud on each side of these columns near the entry of my terrace. One next to my house and the other across. My question now is does the location of these appliances change everthing? Can these roots puncture gas lines?

    1. Dave says:

      No, the roots will not cause a problem for electric or gas lines. The only trees that can be problems are trees like maples and willows that invade water lines, but this problem is probably exaggerated and more folk lore than truth. Most root invasions into water pipes are caused by cracks in the pipes, and then the thirsty roots follow the leak to the source.

  18. Martha says:

    Hi Dave,

    I took your advice and I have to say that I am very pleased with the Forest Pansy Eastern Redbud and the Golden Eastern Redbud trees I purchased. As I mentioned earlier I was concerned about the clay soil and the high tempertures we experience here, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. The Golden Eastern Redbud’s leaves were turning brown and a bit brittle as well as the Forest Pansy but the new leaves that are growing are beautiful. I would like to ask what would be the best fertilizer for this time of year?

    1. Dave says:

      In general trees and shrubs should not be fertilized in late summer because new growth that results can be injured by early frost. After the tree has gone dormant and leaves have dropped it is okay, but the fertilizer is more effective if it is applied just prior to spring growth.

      Most soils have adequate fertility that regular fertilizer is not needed, but quicker growth can be encouraged by application of a fertilizer with a nitrogen analysis of ten or less. Any nitrogen content more than this could push too much growth that is more susceptible to summer injury. The second two numbers in the fertilizer analysis are not necessary for tree growth, in particular the second number, which is phosphorous, since it is almost always present in soils without adding more. Phosphorous binds to water so excess is often carried into our water supplies, so it should be applied only when a soil test indicates a deficiency.

  19. Krista says:

    I planted a lavender twist redbud this spring. I has rained and we also have sprinklers that water tree daily. Plant was looking good on Monday but now on Friday all leaves and green branches dried up and look dead. there are some leaves still green at bottom of tree–did grafted part of tree die? I have been trying to soaker hose it nightly to see if it will come back. What do you think?

    1. Dave says:

      Possibly you have over watered. Excess and prolonged moisture can lead to decreased oxygen levels in the soil and rotting of roots. In particular, in poorly drained soils watering a few times a week for newly planted trees is sufficient, though in the heat of summer every other day doesn’t hurt. After the first six weeks following planting watering should be necessary only when there has been no rain in a week, or when temperatures are very hot.

      If there are green leaves below the redbud’s graft the weeping part could be dead and the host trunk alive. In most cases leaves that grow below a graft should be removed, but to give this tree a chance I would leave them for a while. Cut back on watering and see if any new leaves sprout from the grafted redbud. If none grow in the next month then the damage has been too severe. If new leaves grow the leaves below the graft should then be pruned.

      1. Kathryn says:

        Hi Dave,
        Looks like maybe I am not the only one who had trouble with the weeping lavender twist red bud??

        I hope that you have better luck than I did Krista since Dave knows that I went through two of these type trees that did not make it…

        So far the Flowering apricot looks great that I finally replaced the second twisted red bud with. I planted it 10 feet away from deck and fence as the nursery instructed…

        Have a great day and I send good thoughts your way Krista!

      2. Kathryn says:

        Happy for you Krista!!

        Thought of something else Dave speaking of the red buds… I haven’t dug my twisted one that did not make it (the second one) up yet. It is still in the ground. Is there a way to tell if it is truly dead when looking at the root ball after my daughter digs it up for me? I just thought that I want to make sure that there is no chance at all that it is alive before throwing it out of the picture all together?? Any clues? I don’t remember asking you that with the first one that died…

  20. Krista says:

    Thanks for all of your help! I looked again at the tree and it is sprouting new buds about 3/4 the way up the trunk actually past the graft. I’m not sure this will continue up the tree. I am hoping so as this is where all of the weeping branches are! I really hope I haven’t done this one in.

  21. Kathryn says:

    Both of my twisted Red Buds budded one time beautifully while in the ground after planting and then never again, so thought I would tell you to really baby it even though it has budded the first time…
    Good Luck!

    1. Dave says:

      Redbuds are a little finicky in transplanting from the start, but once they’re over the initial transplant they are very sturdy trees. They do not tolerate excess and prolonged soil moisture (similar to dogwoods), and though they are understory trees there is a limit to the amount of shade they’ll tolerate and still flower dependably.

      I used to joke with people that some trees leafed only every other year, but I was taken seriously too often. In almost all cases if a tree has not leafed by June, it’s not going to. I’ve witnessed a few odd circumstances when a tree’s foliage was frost damaged and it leafed out very late in the spring, but in these cases there’s usually some twig dieback that requires pruning and a few growing seasons to return to full health. Most often, no leaves in June means dead.

  22. Lisa says:

    This is my first time, not sure I did it right or not. I have been reading this blog and have a question for Dave. Please help. I dug out a weeping Redbud last week during our heat wave (in the 90th). I moved it to a sunny place in my yard. Right now all the leaves are dried and ready to fall off. I have been reading on the Internet, I know I did everything wrong. I should have waited for the Fall to do the transplanting. The tree was so pretty with a lot of blooms in the Spring. I am so sad now. I am so tempted to water it everyday but then the Internet said not to do it everyday. It might rot the root. How can I tell if I watered it enough? Are leaves dropping due to transplant or the tree is dead? Please …please…..help anyone, I don’t want to loose this tree. Thanks…..

    1. Dave says:

      Transplanting in the heat of summer can be problematic, as you’ve seen. Some plants are more forgiving than others, but I suspect that redbud is less tolerant than most. The dead leaves are a problem, but there is a slight chance it could survive with continued care. Water every other day for the next few weeks. If you see signs of growth, continue to water. If not, there is probably no chance for the tree’s revival.

      1. Lisa says:

        Hi, Dave
        I was just outside and saw some sucker shoots coming out of my weeping redbud tree which I thought was totally died after the transplant. Is this means my tree is not died? Shall I leave the suckers or leave it so the tree will survive? Thanks.

      2. Dave says:

        I assume that the suckers are below the part of the tree where the weeping branches begin. The likelihood is that the suckers are growing from below the graft, so the part of the tree that’s alive is not the weeping part, but the regular redbud that’s used as a host for the graft. If allowed to grow the branching and foliage would be a regular upright growing redbud.

        If the suckers are growing above the graft then this growth is from the weeping tree and it’s worthwhile to continue to care for the tree.

      3. Lisa says:

        Dave, is this mean my weeping redbud died for sure now? The suckers are from the bottom near the surface of the soil. Thanks.

      4. Dave says:

        If the only growth is coming from the base of the tree the top of the tree has died, but there is still some life in the roots. The top of the redbud cannot be rejuvenated.

      5. lisa says:

        Hi Dave, if I let the suckers (all of it) to grow, will they be up as trees or bushes? I am thinking of let the suckers grow into a manageable bushes. Do you know if it will work? will they have blooms or they will be all greens? I think the top part is died. I saw a crack in the middle of the trunk (verticle) about 2-3 inches (like when it is too dry the wood start to crack and shrink). I know in my heart, it is died, but I am still hoping…..

      6. Dave says:

        The sucker growth at the base of the redbud will eventually grow into a tree. Often there will be multiple suckers so that growth will be shrubby unless the extras are pruned out, but eventually it will grow to a full size tree, with a single trunk or many. Since the sucker growth is redbud there is no reason that it will not flower. The dead top of the tree can be cut away.

  23. Martha says:

    Hi Dave,

    I planted a Forest Pansy Redbud last year and it went through it’s blooming phase in the Spring, and every now and then I cut off the purple and green leaves that grow at the base of the tree. My biggest concern with my Forest Pansy Redbud tree are the bare branches at the top of the tree. I snapped one of the branches to see if it breaks off easily, and it did. I’m a bit confused because the few leaves that it does have are green and a few purple. Are the dry brittle branches common? or can it be damage from the cold winter or from the heat were having here in Sacramento Ca.? Temperatures are over a 100 degrees. However, I noticed the bare branches before the triple digits. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Dave says:

      Small dead branches are not unusual on redbuds, but large dead branches are usually a problem, as is sucker growth from the base of the tree. Redbuds will tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but newly planted trees can experience problems in these extremes.

      1. Martha says:

        Hi Dave,

        Thank you for your response. Two quick questions regarding my Forest Pansy redbud, do I need to wait for Winter to cut the dead branches off and should I be watering every 2 days? We don’t expect triple digits these next few days, however the temperatures will be in the 80’s and 90’s.

  24. Dave says:

    There is no need to delay in pruning dead wood. This can be done at any time. A tree in stress needs one thing only, water. To give it the best chance to revive it’s best to keep the surrounding soil damp without being saturated.

  25. Betty Jackson says:

    My redbud tree was growing crooked and we tied it to a pole to straighten it. Now all the leaves are brown. Is that normal at this time of year or did it damage the roots. This is the second year I have had it.

    1. Dave says:

      If the leaves turned brown suddenly after the tree was straightened then the disturbance to the roots could be fatal. Redbuds and dogwoods are sensitive to transplanting and root disturbance. If there are still some live leaves and the leaves turned a few at a time then the problem is more likely to be a result of summer heat and dryness, and it will probably be okay next spring.

  26. kimsmith1975 says:

    I have a weeping twisted lavender redbud that I planted this year it is about 4 feet with lots of branches, there are some branches growing upwards from the bottom, my ? is do I need to prune or can I just let nature do its thing. I am so excited to see it next year when it blooms

    1. Dave says:

      The weeping redbud is grafted onto the roots, and usually the trunk of an upright growing redbud. The sucker growth from the roots should be pruned so that it doesn’t weaken the grafted, weeping part of the tree. The suckers will grow more vigorously, and eventually the weeping part that was grafted will die off if these are not pruned. Sucker growth is rarely a long term problem, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the tree for a couple years.

  27. Martha says:

    Hi Dave, I planted a Forest Pansy tree a year ago and I found an insect (bore?) on my tree trunk. I suspect it was an insect that killed off the top branches and left more than half of my tree with dead branches and hollow trunk. I pruned my tree as far back as I could. I left the small branches at the base of my tree. This summer the branches have all moved to the center and are at least 4 ft. and trunk 5 inches tall. I lost the beautiful purple colored leaves and now I just have green. I would like to know if this tree will continue to grow like a tree eventhough I think the branches could be considered sucker growth since they were small branches from the side of the trunk. My next question is could I plant another Forest Pansy tree next to it this tree so I could have my purple leaves and how far apart would I have to plant my new Forest Pansy tree. My goal is to have a fuller tree with alot of leaves. I prefer the purple leaves and I am afraid to move the other tree. Please let me know what you would recommend. Thank you.

    1. Dave says:

      Forest Pansy is a grafted tree, so the sucker growth is likely to be from the green leafed redbud it was grafted onto, which is still quite a beautiful tree. If the dead trunk is removed the suckers will grow into a multi trunked tree. It is easiest to leave multiple trunks rather than pruning to a single trunk, but either way the redbud will grow to a full sized tree. Though I don’t always follow this advice, it is best to plant small trees no closer than fifteen feet apart, and even at this spacing redbuds will eventually spread into one another.

  28. Adelene says:

    Hi Dave,

    I live in Perth, Western Australia and bought a containerised Forest Pansy from the nursery a week ago. The tree is about 10′ tall. I noticed that some of the leaves have curled and brittled due to the hot summer we have been experiencing (high 90s) The tree gets the afternoon sun as well in the least windy spot (previously was in afternoon shade but exposed to strong winds and fell over) Lost a few of the dried leaves as well due to winds.

    Over the last 2 days I have been watering it a little bit more and keeping the soil moist. It has good drainage and I plan to mulch it as well but keeping clear of the trunk. Eventually it will be transplanted into a large terracotta pot or perhaps a half wine barrel.

    Do FP produce leaves in summer? Also if I were to plant it in the ground how much would the root spread?



    1. Dave says:

      It is unlikely that the redbud will grow much in the heat, but the leaf drop should be expected on a newly planted tree. Watering will be critical through the heat, but the tree should be fine.

      The roots of redbud should eventually spread just about as far as it branches, which will be a radius of ten to fifteen feet from the trunk. If there is not adequate room for this the tree will adapt.

      1. Adelene says:

        Thanks Dave. I feel slightly relieve now.

        I’ve since moved it under my frangipani for afternoon shade AND wind protection. That’s just a temporary location for now because summer here is just crazy and it looks like we will be having another scorching week. Just want to make sure I did everything right to give it the best chance to survive. It’s still in it’s original pot. I’ll probably transplant in fall.

        Fingers cross it’s just sulking and not suicidal!

  29. Pamela Taylor says:

    I have an eastern redbud that was planted 7 years ago.It has always bloomed well.But this year here it is May and it has very few flowers, but it is leafing.I live I’m central Illinois.

    1. Dave says:

      With the unusual winter weather I am finding it difficult to explain many things that are happening in the garden. Be thankful that the redbud has leaves. I’ve seen several redbuds that are flowering now, several weeks later than other local trees, and I suspect that these trees have suffered some root injury and might not leaf out following flowering. At this point leaves are some assurance that the tree has survived, and for many plants we’ll have to forgive a lack of flowers and be satisfied that they are likely to flower next year.

  30. Jyl says:

    We purchases a redbud from our local garden centre last summer (2013) – it died during the harsh winter, no leaves, no buds on any of the wood, but we left it in the ground just in case.
    We were afraid it was terribly diseased when new shoots came up recently with white leaves – I went searhing to see what was wrong with it and found your page describling a Silver Cloud – I’m so glad it’s supposed to look like that ! Now I will attempt to find out what to do to keep it alive.
    Jyl in Ontario, Canada

  31. janhenderson says:

    My Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud was planted last Spring and it is doing great. It’s covered with pink buds but we are expecting a freeze this week. Should I cover it to protect the buds?

    1. Dave says:

      Redbuds flower every year in early April with the constant threat of frost. I’ve never seen the flowers effected by either frost or late freezes, so it should not be a problem.

      1. janhenderson says:

        Thank you so much!

  32. kathy b says:

    my eastern red bud has no leaf no tiny buds of any kind only brown long branches
    is it dead or a live I planted it in September last year

    1. Dave says:

      Occasionally, a recently planted tree will flower or leaf late in the spring, but redbud is more difficult than the average to transplant, so there’s a good chance it’s dead. If local redbuds go into leaf in the next week or two and it still shows no signs of life, there’s your answer.

      1. kathy b says:

        I will give it until mid may and returned it back to Loews

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