Winter seems to last forever, but the days get longer, and the weather gets warmer. As the days grow warmer, you may see trees blooming with pink and purple flowers. These trees are called redbuds, and there are many different types of redbud trees that can grow in your backyard. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of redbud trees and find out which one is best for your garden.
Redbuds are one of the first trees to bloom in the spring, and their vibrant pink and purple flowers are a welcome sight after the long winter. But did you know that redbuds are also an important food source for bees? As bees begin to emerge from their hives after a long winter, they need nectar and pollen to sustain them.
Redbuds provide both of these things in abundance, helping bees to get a head start on the spring season. Bees pollinate redbud flowers, ensuring that the trees produce fruit in the fall. This symbiotic relationship between redbuds and bees is just one example of how trees play an essential role in our ecosystem.
In the early days of spring, something truly magical happens in the forests of eastern North America. Amid the sea of drab grays and browns, a burst of color appears as the redbud trees come into bloom. Their glossy leaves are tinted a delicate pink, and their branches are covered in small, magenta-colored flowers.
The redbuds transform the forest into a fairytale land for a few weeks. Unfortunately, their flowering season is all too brief. Soon enough, the leaves will turn green, and the flowers will fade away. But for those who have had the privilege of seeing a redbud tree in bloom, the memory will stay with them forever.
The redbud tree is a member of the pea family, and its scientific name is Fabaceae (Leguminosae). The tree is native to North America, and it gets its name from the reddish-purple color of its buds. Redbuds are relatively small trees, and they typically grow to a height of 20-30 feet (6-9 meters). The bark is smooth and gray, and the leaves are heart-shaped and 3-6 inches (7.5-15cm) long.
The flowers are clustered together in 2-3 inch (5-7.5cm) long clusters, and they bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. Redbuds are popular ornamental trees, and they are often planted in yards and parks. The trees are also attractive to birds and other wildlife, making them valuable to any ecosystem.
Different Types of Redbud Trees
The confusion over the number of redbud species has been confusing botanists for decades. Many were named twice and only later found to be synonymous, so it's hard work sorting out which ones are valid! But we've done all that research work for you by gathering the most commonly accepted names from around the world – these trees can frequently be seen on hikes in your local woods (though not always).
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
The Eastern redbud is a small tree native to eastern North America. It typically grows to 15-25 feet 94.5-7 meters) and spreads 20-30 feet (6-9 meters). The tree has a rounded crown and reddish-brown bark. The leaves are simple, heart-shaped, moderately sized 2-4 inches (5.08 to 10.16 cm) long, and dark green in color. Eastern redbud's flowers are pink or purple and appear in clusters on the branches in early spring.
The fruit is a dark purple or black pod that contains 2-5 seeds. The eastern redbud is an important food source for many animals, including deer, rabbits, and squirrels. The tree grows best in full sun and prefers moist, well-drained soils. It is tolerant of urban conditions and can be used as an ornamental tree in yards and gardens due to its showy flowers and attractive foliage. Eastern redbuds can also grow in woods, fields, and roadsides.
Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
The western redbud is a native North American species in the pea family, ranging from Southern British Columbia and Alberta, south to California, and east to Colorado and Wyoming. It grows in various habitats, including woodlands, savannahs, and chaparral. The tree is usually found in moist, well-drained soils. It can reach 10-20 feet (3.5-7 meters) with a trunk diameter of 6-12 inches (15-30 cm). The bark is reddish-brown and smooth, with narrow ridges forming a diamond pattern.
The branches are slender and drooping, and the leaves are round green heart-shaped with smooth margins. They are generally 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long and 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) wide. The flowers of western redbuds are small, pink or white, and borne in clusters at the ends of the branches. The fruits are dry, brown pods that contain tiny seeds. Western redbuds are suitable for planting in gardens, parks, and other open spaces as they provide year-round interest.
Chinese Redbud (Cercis chinensis)
The Chinese redbud is a small tree native to central and southern China. It grows to 15 feet (4.5 m) and has a spreading canopy. The leaves are heart-shaped and measure 3-4 inches in length. The flowers are pink or white, and the fruits are small, dark-colored pods that contain seeds.
The Chinese redbud is found in forests, scrublands, and mountainous areas, prefers full sun to partial shade, and moist and well-drained soil. The Chinese redbud is an excellent choice for an ornamental tree in the landscape. It is also a popular choice for bonsai.
Chain Flowered Redbud (Cercis racemosa)
The Chain Flowered Redbud is a perennial deciduous shrub or small tree in the pea family. The native distribution of this redbud is central and eastern North America, from Canada to Mexico. Chain flowered redbud typically grows up to 20 feet (6 m) tall and wide but can reach 25 feet (7.5 m) tall. The leaves are cordate, 1-3 inches (2.5-7.5 cm) long, and glossy green, while the flowers are pink or purple, 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) long, and grow in clusters along the stems.
The fruits are brown or copper pods, 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) long, containing 3-5 seeds each. The chain flowered redbud is an excellent nectar source for bees and other pollinators. Once established, it is tolerant of various soil types and drought conditions and often used as an ornamental plant in landscaping.
Ching’s Redbud (Cercis chingii)
Ching's redbud is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree native to southern China. It typically grows to 10-15 feet (3-4.5 m) tall and 6-12 feet (1.75-3.5 m) wide in optimum growing conditions. The tree has a rounded habit with branches that tend to grow horizontally. The dark green leaves are ovate-shaped and measure 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) long.
The leaves turn yellow in the fall before they are shed for the winter, and the flowers are followed by seed pods that mature to a dark brown color. Ching's redbud is tolerant of many soil types and prefers full sun to partial shade. It is typically propagated by seed or cuttings.
Smooth Redbud (Cercis glabra)
The smooth redbud or Yunnan redbud is a small understory tree native to China. It typically grows to 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m) and has a spreading crown. The leaves are cordate and have smooth margins. The flowers are pink or magenta and occur in clusters along the stems. The fruits are seed pods that turn black when ripe. Smooth redbud typically grows in open woodlands, floodplains, and valleys.
It is often found in disturbed areas such as roadsides and fence rows. The tree is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and conditions. It has showy flowers and attractive seed pods, making it popular as an ornamental plant. Smooth redbud is also an important food source for wildlife, particularly birds. Several species of songbirds eat the seeds, and white-tailed deer and other mammals browse the leaves.
Ace of Hearts (Cercis canadensis)
The ace of hearts is a small tree native to eastern and central North America and typically grows to 12 feet (3.5 m), with a spread of 15 feet (4.5 m). The tree has a rounded crown spreading branches and smooth brown bark with vertical fissures. The leaves are simple, deciduous, and heart-shaped; they are dark green and 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) in length. The flowers of the ace of hearts are pink or purple, and the fruits are seed pods that mature in late summer or early fall.
The ace of hearts is tolerant of various soil types and moisture levels. It prefers full sun to partial shade, but it will also grow in shady areas. The tree is relatively easy to care for and is resistant to disease and pests. Seeds, cuttings, or grafting can propagate it, and it is commonly used as an ornamental tree in gardens and parks.
European Redbud (Cercis siliquastrum)
The European redbud is a small tree native to the eastern Mediterranean region. It has a spreading habit and can grow to 15-25 feet (4.5-7.5 m). The leaves are dark green and heart-shaped, with a prominent network of veins.
The flowers are pink or purple, and the fruits are flat, dark brown pods that contain tiny, light-colored seeds. The European redbud is adapted to various habitats, including open woodlands, scrublands, and rocky slopes. It is often planted as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.
Lavender Twist Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Covey')
The Lavender Twist Redbud is a small tree with a twisty, contorted trunk and branches. It is native to the southeastern United Kingdom, where it is found in forests, woodlands, and along streams and rivers. The leaves are heart-shaped and glossy green, turning yellow in fall.
The flowers are lavender-pink, and the fruits are reddish-brown pods that mature in late summer and remain on the tree into winter. The Lavender Twist Redbud is a beautiful tree that provides interest and color throughout the year's landscape.
Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)
The Texas White Redbud is a small deciduous tree native to Texas and the southwestern United States. It is typically found in woodlands, savannas, and other open habitats. The Texas redbud has a short trunk and a spreading canopy. It naturally grows to 30-40 feet (9-12 m) and has a spreading crown. The leaves are heart to kidney-shaped and measure 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) in length.
The flowers are white or pink, while the fruits are brown, round pods that measure 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter. The Texas redbud is tolerant of drought and cold temperatures. It is an important food source for wildlife, especially deer and birds. It is also a famous ornamental tree due to its showy flowers and attractive foliage.
Forest Pansy Redbud (Cercis Canadensis Forest Pansy’)
Forest pansy redbud is a deciduous tree native to eastern and central North America. It typically grows to a height of 20-30 feet (6-9 m) and spreads 25-35 feet (7.5-10.5 m). The tree has a rounded crown and a stout trunk with smooth gray bark. The branches are reddish-purple, giving the tree its distinctive appearance. The leaves are ovate-shaped and are dark green with a purple tint.
The flowers of forest pansy redbud are pink or red, and the fruits are pod-like and contain small, dark seeds. Forest pansy redbud is a famous ornamental tree often used on the roadside or in public parks. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. Deer, rabbits, and other animals eat the tree's leaves, but it is otherwise resistant to pests and diseases.
Mexican Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. mexicana)
Mexican redbud is a small deciduous tree or large shrub native to Mexico and Central America. It typically grows to 10-15 feet (3-4.5 m) in height and has a spreading, rounded crown. The bark is smooth and reddish-brown, and the branches are often covered in small thorns.
The elliptical dark green leaves measure 5-12 cm (2-4.7 inches) in length and have a smooth, glossy surface. The flowers are typically pink or purple, and the fruits are brown capsules that measure 3 inches (7 cm) in length and contain small seeds.
Mexican redbud is tolerant of various growing conditions but prefers well-drained, sandy soils in full sun to partial shade. It is relatively drought tolerant once established but will benefit from supplemental water during prolonged periods of dry weather. This plant is often used as an ornamental tree or shrub in landscape design due to its attractive flowers and foliage. It can also be used as a hedge or screen.
Ruby Falls Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Ruby Falls')
Ruby fall is a small redbud tree native to eastern and central North America. The tree gets its name from deep red leaves that turn ruby-red in the fall. The leaves are also heart-shaped, which adds to the tree's uniqueness. The Ruby Fall tree is incredibly tough and can withstand harsh conditions despite its small size.
For example, the tree can survive temperatures as low as -20°F (-6.6°C) and tolerate long periods of drought. Additionally, the Ruby Fall tree is resistant to disease and pests. As a result, it is a low-maintenance tree perfect for homeowners who want to add a splash of color to their yard without worrying about excessive care.
Hearts of Gold Redbud (Cercis Canadensis Hearts of Gold’)
The hearts of gold redbud is a small deciduous tree native to eastern and central North America. It is typically found in woodlands, ravines, and valleys. The leaves are heart-shaped and 3-6 inches (6-15 cm) long. The flowers are lavender-purple, while the fruits are dark purple or black and 1 inch (2.5 cm) long.
The hearts of gold redbud is adaptable to various habitats and soil types; it prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It is tolerant of drought and can survive in poor-quality soils. The hearts of gold redbud is a popular landscaping plant due to its showy flowers and attractive leaves. It can also be used as a specimen tree or planted in groups.
The Rising Sun Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Rising Sun')
The rising sun redbud is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to eastern North America. It typically grows to 8-12 feet (2.5-3.5 m) with a spread of the same size. The leaves are heart-shaped and 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) long. The flowers are pink or purple, and the fruits are seed pods that mature in late summer and turn brown in fall.
The rising sun redbud is tolerant of a wide range of soils and conditions, but it prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It is relatively resistant to deer browse and disease, making it suitable for landscaping.
Merlot Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Merlot')
The Merlot Redbud, botanical name Cercis canadensis 'Merlot,' is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to eastern and central North America. It typically grows to 9-12 feet (2.5-3.5 m) and has a rounded habit with purple-red leaves.
The flowers are bright pink or lavender in color, while the fruits are dark purple and mature in late summer. The Merlot Redbud is tolerant of various soil types and prefers full sun to partial shade. It is an excellent choice for use as an accent plant in the landscape.
‘Alba’ Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum ‘Alba’)
'Alba' Judas tree is a deciduous tree native to the Mediterranean. It grows to 20-30 feet (6-10 m) and has a spreading canopy. The leaves are elliptical and have a silvery green, and the flowers are pink or white.
The fruits are brown or black and mature in the fall. The 'Alba' Judas prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is tolerant of drought but does not tolerate flooding. Judas trees are commonly used as ornamental plants in gardens and parks.
Silver Cloud Redbud (Cercis Canadensis Silver Cloud)
The silver cloud redbud is a deciduous tree native to the southeastern United States. It typically reaches a height of 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m) and spreads 10-20 feet (3-6 m). The tree is characterized by its rosy-pink flowers, which appear in early spring before the leaves emerge. The flowers are followed by dark purple fruits that ripen in late summer.
The glossy green leaves of the silver cloud redbud are heart-shaped and turn yellow or reddish-purple in fall. The tree grows best in moist, well-drained soils in partial shade and is tolerant of drought and salt spray. Silver cloud redbud makes an excellent specimen tree or accent plant for the home landscape.
Northern Strain Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Northern Strain')
The northern strain redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Northern Strain') is a hardy variety of redbud native to the north of the United States and Canada. This deciduous tree averages 20-25 feet (6-7.5 m) in height and 20-30 feet (6-9 m) in width. It has a rounded crown and medium-sized, heart-shaped leaves that turn yellow in the fall. The branches are covered in small, pinkish-purple flowers that appear in early spring.
The northern strain redbud is an adaptable tree that does well in various habitats, including full sun or partial shade and moist or dry soil. It is also resistant to deer browse and drought, making it an excellent addition to any landscape. It provides year-round interest with its attractive foliage, flowers, and form.
Tennessee Pink Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Tennessee Pink')
The Tennessee Pink Redbud is a deciduous tree native to the eastern United States. It is typically found in woodlands and along streams, and it can grow to a height of 9-12 feet (2.75-3.5 m). The leaves are cordate and have a reddish-purple hue, while the flowers are deep pink. The Tennessee Pink Redbud is an excellent choice for a shade tree or an ornamental tree in the landscape.
It is relatively easy to care for and does not require regular pruning. However, it should be fertilized annually to maintain its health and vigor. The Tennessee Pink Redbud is a beautiful tree that will add interest and color to any yard or garden.
Oklahoma Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis 'Oklahoma')
The Oklahoma redbud is a Texas native selected for its large, deep purple flowers. It typically blooms in early spring, often before the leaves appear. The heart-shaped leaves are glossy green and turn yellow in fall. The Oklahoma redbud typically grows to 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m) tall and wide, making it an excellent choice for miniature landscapes.
It is also tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and is resistant to drought. The Oklahoma redbud should be planted in full sun to shade for best flowering. With its showy flowers and compact size, the Oklahoma redbud is excellent for any landscape.
Caring for Redbud Trees
Redbud trees are one of the most popular choices for landscaping due to their beautiful spring flowers and stunning fall colors. However, these trees can be delicate and require meticulous care to thrive. Here are some tips for caring for your redbud tree:
Redbud trees need a consistent supply of moisture to survive. The best way to water your redbud tree is to use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. This will help prevent the leaves from getting wet, leading to fungal diseases.
When choosing a location for your redbud tree, select an area that gets full sun to partial shade. Redbud trees need at least six hours of sunlight per day to bloom properly.
Redbud trees prefer moist, well-drained soils. If you live in an area with heavy clay soils, you may need to amend the soil with sand or organic matter to improve drainage.
Redbud trees do not require much fertilizer, but you may want to fertilize your tree in the springtime if it is not growing as vigorously as you would like. Use a balanced fertilizer that is low in nitrogen.
Redbud trees do not require much pruning, but you may want to remove any dead or damaged branches in the springtime. You should also prune away any suckers growing from the tree's base. Redbud trees can provide beauty and enjoyment for many years with proper care.
Redbud Tree FAQs
Redbud trees are a popular choice for landscaping due to their beautiful spring flowers and stunning fall colors. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about redbud trees:
Which Redbud Tree is Best?
Second, consider the climate in your area. If you live in an area with hot summers, choose a more heat-tolerant variety such as the 'Oklahoma' or the 'Texas.' If you live in an area with cold winters, choose a type that is more cold tolerant such as the 'Northern' or the 'Canadian.' Third, think about the color of the flowers and leaves that you want. Redbud trees come in various colors, including pink, purple, white, and red.
Finally, consider how much maintenance you are willing to do. Some varieties require more pruning and care than others. Once you have considered all of these factors, you will be able to choose the best redbud tree for your needs.
How Fast Do Redbud Trees Grow?
Generally speaking, however, most redbud trees will grow between one and two feet per year. A redbud tree planted today will reach a mature height in 10-20 years. A redbud tree can provide decades of beauty to your landscape with proper care.
What Is the Life Expectancy of a Redbud Tree?
Redbud trees are native to the eastern United States and Canada. They are small deciduous trees that grow to a height of 20-30 feet (7-10 meters) and have a spreading canopy. The redbud tree leaves are heart-shaped, and the flowers are pink or purple. The fruit is a pod that contains two seeds. Redbud trees are often used as ornamental plants in gardens and parks.
Which Redbud Tree Grows the Fastest?
The Northern Redbud and the Western Redbud are two of the fastest-growing types of redbud trees. These trees can grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) per year, making them an excellent choice for those who want to quickly add a bit of color to their landscape.
If you are looking for a slower-growing variety, the Eastern Redbud grows at 2 feet (60cm) per year. This tree is a good choice for those who want a more gradual change to their landscape. No matter which type of redbud tree you choose, you are sure to add beauty and value to your home.
What’s the Smallest Redbud Tree?
Are Redbud Tree Roots Invasive?
First, redbud trees have relatively shallow roots, so they may not be the best choice for planting near sidewalks or driveways. Second, the roots of these trees can spread out quite a bit, so it is essential to consider the size of the planting area before selecting a redbud tree.
Finally, if you have any concerns about the potential for root damage, it is always best to consult with a certified arborist or tree care expert before planting. With proper care and consideration, redbud trees can make a beautiful addition to any home landscape.
What Can I Plant Under a Redbud Tree?
Low-growing junipers, for example, are an excellent choice for under a redbud tree. Another option is to plant annual flowers that provide color from spring until fall. Begonias, impatiens, and petunias are all excellent choices. Whatever you plant, give the redbud tree enough room to grow. After all, it's only going to get bigger!
What Is the Best Time to Plant a Redbud Tree?
Once established, they are drought-tolerant and can even withstand short periods of flooding. With proper care, redbud trees can live for centuries. Planting a redbud tree in the spring is best for gardeners looking for a beautiful and long-lived addition to their landscape.
Where Is the Best Place to Plant a Redbud Tree?
The second thing to consider is the soil type. Redbud trees tolerate different soil types, but they prefer well-drained soils. If the soil in your garden is particularly heavy or clay-like, you may want to consider planting the tree in a raised bed.
The third thing to consider is the size of the tree. Redbud trees can range from 20 to 30 feet (7.5-10 meters), so choose a planting site with enough room for the tree to grow. Once you have selected the perfect spot for your redbud tree, water it regularly and apply a layer of mulch around its base to help protect its roots.
If you're looking for a tree that will add some pizzazz to your yard in the springtime, look no further than a redbud. No matter which redbud tree you choose to plant in your yard this spring, you can enjoy the beauty of these pink fireworks and embrace the new season. With their showy flowers and easy care requirements, redbud trees are great for any landscape. So go ahead and plant one of these beauties in your backyard this year – you won't regret it!