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Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, A redbud tree puts on a spectacular show of fiery pink blooms in early spring (March to April) that most people are likely to always remember. The entire deciduous tree fills up with miniature clusters of bright purplish-pink flowers that extend out from smooth grey branches and even the trunk. The fading pea-like flowers in spring give way to heart-shaped, finely veined red-green leaves in the full sun of the summer and then there are brown pods that remain on the tree even after the leaves fall. These features along with the redbud’s compact size have made it one of the most popular small trees to brighten up residential gardens. Additionally, planting and taking care of redbud trees is rather easy.
The redbud tree is a member of the bean family that is native to the eastern United States but will grow in USDA planting zones 4 through 8 (we are zone 9 & 10). It can easily adapt to a wide range of growing conditions and temperatures ranging from -18° F in the winter to the 90°+ F Florida summers. The tree thrives in most types of soil but it grows best in moist, well-drained soil. It does not thrive in salty soil conditions though. It can handle different kinds of sun exposure from full sun to partial shade but redbud grows best in direct sun.
This is a moderately fast growing tree that depends on bees for pollination. When the leaves fall in autumn, the fruit pod remains on the tree till it matures and opens up to disperse the seeds through the wind. The tree attracts wildlife such as the deer who feed on its leaves and songbirds such as Carolina chickadee and the northern bobwhite that enjoy the seeds.
Redbuds are not large trees and will reach between 20 and 30 feet in height and 15 to 30 feet in width. It has several picturesque trunks divided close to the ground and the arched branches and the wide umbrella-like crown. Redbud trees are grown in naturalized or woodland areas as understory trees.
It is best to plant a Redbud tree late fall to early spring. Once you have narrowed down your planting site, you need to dig a hole, three times wider than the tree’s root. Place the tree in the hole straight and make sure that the root ball is even or slightly higher than the surrounding ground before filling the hole with native soil. Water thoroughly once you have finished planting the redbud tree.