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Use an Annual Care Kit to treat your redbud tree, an excellent annual maintenance practice.

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Eastern redbud
G. Lumis
Leaf of eastern redbud
G. Lumis
Bark of eastern redbud
G. Lumis

Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9
Height: 30 ft
Spread: 25 ft
Form: rounded
Type: deciduous tree
Annual Growth Rate: 12 to 18 inches
Light: Full sun to shade
Moisture: Grows better in moist soil
Flowers: Purplish-pink
Fertilizer: TreeHelp Premium Fertilizer for Redbud

The Redbud tree is a relatively small tree with spreading branches and a small short trunk. The Redbud is a poplar ornamental tree, which can be found in many gardens and streetscapes. The tree is one of the earliest flowering trees and is often used to add color to gardens.

The purple pink flowers of the eastern redbud appear all over the tree in early spring. The flowers are even produced on large trunks. Redbud has a yellow fall color and is shade tolerant.

The Redbud grows throughout much of the eastern United States and extends as far west as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

var. alba – The flowers are pure white.

‘Forest Pansy’ – The new leaves are scarlet becoming maroon as they mature. The flowers are pink. This cultivar may not be as hardy as the species.

‘Flame’ (‘Plena’) – Double pink flowers appear at the same time as the leaves. Seldom sets fruit.

‘Silver Cloud’ – The leaves are variegated with pink and white. The plants are 12 feet tall and wide.


Tree Hoppers

Treehoppers lay eggs under the bark of twigs. The insect itself is not seen but the white, sticky froth covering the eggs is quite noticeable (see image). The insect is seldom serious. Use Horticultural Oil in a dormant spray dosage to control treehoppers. The Horticultural Oil should be applied when the temperatures are between 35 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scale Insects

Scale insects are small, non-mobile insects that attach themselves to the wood and sometimes the foliage. Scale is most common on the new tender woody growth. When adult scale is attached to the tree, it often appears as crusty or waxy bumps on the tree and is often mistaken for part of the tree’s own growth, but it is actually an insect. The scale sucks sap from the tree and causes the leaves to turn yellow and drop. Often a sticky substance can be found near the scale or on the leaves. This is a secretion from the scale called honeydew and often acts as an attractant for ants or as a growing source for sooty mold.

In the spring or mid-summer, small, almost invisible nymphs emerge from under the female shells and move to infect new areas of the tree. This is the only time in the life cycle of scale that the insect moves.

To effectively control scale insects and limit damage, Horticultural Oil should be sprayed on the tree. The Horticultural oil serves to suffocate the scale and eggs. In the spring or early summer if the crawling nymphs are present, spray the trees with to prevent the new nymphs from further infecting the tree.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are an extremely tiny pest, and generally appear as a brown, red or purple specks on the underside of leaves. Mites infest leaves and cause the leaves to appear speckled with yellow spots or wilted and curled. A fine silken webbing can sometimes be seen on the underside of the leaves. Intense infestations during hot, dry weather can cause the leaves to curl and drop.

To confirm if the tree has a spider mite infestation take a close look at the undersides of the leaves for small insects, the size of ground pepper. You may need to use a small magnifying glass to adequately see the spider mites. Another way to examine for spider mites is to take a sheet of white paper, hold it under a group of leaves and give the leaves a few sharp taps to shake some of the spider mites loose. On the white paper the spider mites can be easily seen.

Spider mites damage the tree by sucking sap from the underside of the leaves. The bite marks appear as a yellow speckled pattern on the top and bottom of the leaf. As the season progresses and the temperature becomes hotter and dryer (above 70 degrees F.) the population of spider mites will increase exponentially and can rapidly defoliate a tree, especially if the tree is having trouble taking up water during drought periods. To control mites, spray the tree with Bug Buster. Be sure to spray the underside of the leaves as well as leaf crotches as this is where most spider mites and their eggs are found.



Dieback/Canker is the most destructive disease that attacks Redbud trees. It is first seen as a tree’s leaves wilt and turn brown. Often cankers can be seen on branches and twigs. The cankers can either be seen as visible cankers on the surface of the branches or as dark sunken areas with black centers.

The canker or dieback is caused by a fungus (Botryosphaeria ribis) which attacks not only the redbud but more than fifty other types of trees and shrubs. The disease is spread throughout the tree, or from tree to tree, by splashing rain and winds that move the fungus from diseased areas to healthy parts of the tree. The fungus then enters the tree through wounds or dying branches. The fungus gradually spreads out within the tree’s vascular system slowly blocking the tree’s vascular system and inhibiting its ability to transport nutrients and water. The result is a gradual dieback of branches as the flow of nutrients and water is cut off.

There is no effective chemical control for the canker. If canker is identified in a tree, prune out and destroy dead branches and infested areas. Be sure to make pruning cuts at least 3 or 4 inches below the canker, so that the cut is into healthy viable wood. After every pruning cut, be sure to properly sanitize the pruning tools so that the fungus is not transported on the tools and infects healthy parts of the tree.

An effective pruning and sanitization program can be helped with a fungicide spray program. Spray both the healthy and diseased sections of a tree with Liquid Copper during and shortly after periods of excessive rain. Using a fungicide such as Liquid Copper will not eliminate the disease but it can help slow the spread of the fungal disease to healthy trees.

Leaf Spots

Leaf spots can be a problem during wet weather. The spots appear as small brown or black spots on the top of leaves. Since the disease is rarely serious, no chemical controls are normally needed, however, in severe cases or to improve the look of the tree, spray the tree with Liquid Copper. The fungicide spray should be applied when the leaf spots are first noticed and again in about 14 to 20 days. The following spring, shortly after bud break, re-spray the tree with the Liquid Copper to ensure no over-wintering of the spot disease. Since the leaf spot fungus over winters in the fallen leaves and then re-infects the tree the following spring, it is important in the autumn to collect up and remove any leaves that have fallen to the ground.

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium wilt attacks and kills redbud trees. Verticillium Wilt is a very common disease that attacks a large number of trees. It is caused by a soil-inhabiting fungus called Verticillium. The disease fungus can be spread by many methods including from plant-to-plant, through the soil, groundwater and often by infected pruning equipment that has not been properly sanitized. The disease normally enters the tree through the soil, but can also be introduced into a tree through a wound. Once in the tree, the fungus begins to spread throughout the tree’s vascular system, as the fungus level increases the tree’s vascular system becomes blocked preventing the tree from adequately moving water and nutrients throughout the tree.

The first signs that a tree has a Verticillium Wilt infection is the yellowing and then browning of leaves at the ends of some branches. Initially the yellowing and browning of the leaves is spotty throughout the tree and does not follow a uniform pattern. As the fungus begins to block the vascular system, the browning of leaves becomes more acute and more wide-spread. New leaves generally are either non-existent, undersized or yellowed.

As the disease spreads, the infected tree may slowly die, branch by branch over several seasons. The symptoms and severity of Verticillium wilt are much more harsh during droughts.

There is no chemical control for Verticillium Wilt however there are several steps that can be undertaken to help control the spread of the disease, as well as enhance a tree’s ability to control or even contain the disease. These include pruning, fertilizing and watering.

Prune and remove all dead wood. The pruning should be a few inches below the diseased area, so as to remove as much of the fungal concentrations as possible. When pruning do not remove branches that have recently wilted as they may reflush again in a few weeks or the following spring. When pruning be sure to properly sanitize the pruning tools after each cut.

Give the tree a very good fertilization with a slow release nitrogen. The TreeHelp Annual Care Kit contains an appropriate fertilizer for Redwood trees, as well as a Redwood mycorrhizal treatment and biostimulant to assist the tree in taking up and metabolizing moisture and nutrients.

It is important to give a Redbud tree suffering from verticillium wilt a deep root watering at least twice or three times a week. The objective of a deep root watering is to ensure that the water penetrates deep into the soil, to a depth of at least 24 to 36 inches so that the entire root zone is hydrated. The easiest way to give a large tree a deep root watering is to place either a sprinkler or a soaker hose over the tree’s drip line and let it run for about 2 hours, ensuring lots of water penetrates the soil. A deep root watering is much better than frequent shallow waterings which do not get moisture to the lower roots. During periods of extreme drought you may also want to consider spraying the soil around the tree’s root zone with Hydretain Root Zone Moisture Manager. This is a unique and advanced product specifically designed to assist a tree in dealing with drought stress. It works like a natural magnet to hold water near the tree’s root zone and keep the root zone hydrated during periods of drought stress.

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’

  • Attributes: Genus: Cercis Species: canadensis Family: Fabaceae Uses (Ethnobotany): The bark was boiled and used by Native Americans to treat whooping cough. The bark was also used as an astringent to treat dysentery. The inner bark and roots were used for vomiting, fevers and congestion. The flowers were fried and used as a food source. Wildlife Value: Butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators are attracted to the flower nectar. The seeds are a food source for squirrels, songbirds and quail. Play Value: Attractive Flowers Attracts Pollinators Edible fruit Wildlife Food Source Dimensions: Height: 20 ft. 0 in. – 30 ft. 0 in. Width: 25 ft. 0 in. – 35 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Tree Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Rounded Vase Growth Rate: Rapid Texture: Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions: Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Moist Very Dry Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Brown/Copper Fruit Value To Gardener: Edible Display/Harvest Time: Fall Winter Fruit Length: 1-3 inches Fruit Description: Seed Type: Pod Fruits follow and are flattened dry bean pods (to 2-4” long) that mature to brown in summer. Each pod has 6-12 seeds. Pods may remain on the tree into winter.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Gold/Yellow Pink Purple/Lavender Flower Value To Gardener: Good Cut Showy Flower Bloom Time: Spring Flower Description: Extremely showy rosy-pink-purple pea-like flowers explode from bare twigs in early spring.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Gold/Yellow Orange Purple/Lavender Leaf Feel: Papery Deciduous Leaf Fall Color: Gold/Yellow Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Shape: Cordate Orbicular Ovate Hairs Present: No Leaf Width: 3-6 inches Leaf Description: Leaves are purplish-red, alternate, simple, cordate, broadly ovate to nearly orbicular, and 3-5” across. They have a somewhat papery texture and have a short point at the tip. Leaves turn red to orange in the fall.

  • Bark: Surface/Attachment: Smooth
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Recreational Play Area Woodland Landscape Theme: Butterfly Garden Children’s Garden Edible Garden Pollinator Garden Attracts: Butterflies Hummingbirds Pollinators Small Mammals

Just occasionally there are plants that will just not do for me. I cannot grow a decent carrot to save my life. Helleborus foetidus eludes me. And we have been having such trouble with our purple-leaved shrubs. It is confusing. While they falter and stubbornly stunt, all around them luxuriance is the order of the day.

At the moment we have three different purple-leaved shrubs doing badly – a smoke bush, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, a purple hazel, Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’, and a purple elder, Sambucus nigra ‘Guincho Purple’. All three are planted with the job of providing a deep foil to the rich colours around them. This is, in principle, a good wheeze. Purple – or the range of colours that we group under that colour, covering the spread from violet to brown – makes reds and yellows more intense and adds more depth than any green can, as well as being an important colour in its own right.

Purple flowers are more difficult to hold down and to define – one day’s purple is another’s mauve. Think of all the various clematis that hover along the margins of purple without ever defining it – but purple leaves tend towards the red and brown end of the colour, and plum, burgundy, chocolate all add important depth. But only if they actually have leaves and can compete with what is around them.

I dug up all three shrubs late last summer, as much as an act of punishment as rescue (‘That’s it, I’ve had enough – if you can’t grow better than that it’s into a pot with you and no supper…’), and I have just replanted them in new positions. And here is the root of the problem. They are in exactly the same soil, but this time they will be much more exposed to light. I have in the past thrown away an Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum Atropurpureum’ even though I wanted what it had to offer and it was alive, because it wasn’t growing properly and I assumed that my soil was not acidic enough for it. That was nonsense. They will grow just about anywhere that is reasonably sheltered. It was just too shaded. It, like the smokebush, hazel and elder, seemed happy enough in spring, but got steadily more pathetic as the year rolled on until it limped into autumn, suffered silently in winter, picked up a lot in spring and then got the summer blues again. I now think that the problem lies in the vigour of the annuals that grow in that part of the garden, particularly, Atriplex hortensis var rubra , the purple orache. Ah, the irony of it, one purple doing for another. Even more so that an annual with a life of just a few months can crush the will to live out of a small tree. But I am sure that this is the problem.

The orache is a prodigious self-seeder, although its spread is local as the seed just falls off the plant and grows where it lands. Because our soil is so rich it grows to anything up to 10ft tall. We thin it by the thousand but love the purple foil it provides for the rich colours – you’ve heard this before. In other words, both the slow-growing woody shrubs and the annual spinach (for that’s what orache is, and delicious, too, when young) do the same job but cannot occupy the same ground as the orache takes all the moisture nutrients and, most importantly, light. So now I have moved each of the shrubs to as open a position as possible where there are not major concentrations of orache seeds, and we shall thin around them diligently. Above all, I want them to grow and grow big. After all, if it is just purple leaves that I am after, the orache is already doing the job fine. I want the tangle of winter branches as well as the particular qualities of each of the shrubs.

If the shrubs had had green leaves they would probably have coped with the lack of light, but the red layer of pigment over the green of the chlorophyll means that there is less photosynthesis and therefore less food. In short, purple-leaved plants need more pampering than green-leaved ones and, if they are to grow at all strongly, more light.

So I was being unreasonably optimistic to expect the purple hazel to behave like the dozens of green-leaved hazels that I have grown in the garden. Given a dense woodland canopy, it would become a very sorry specimen, all weak, straggly branches and hardly any leaves. But give it an open position and cut it right back to the ground every few years and it will develop extra-large, deep plum-coloured leaves.

The elder, Sambucus nigra ‘Guincho Purple’, is the least fussy of the three and, like all elders, can scarcely be stopped from growing, but its branches veer and bend in an exaggerated fashion away from shade in a desperate hunt for the sun. I have pruned hard and hope that this year’s dose of fresh air will encourage it to grow slightly less eccentrically.

Although I love the burgundy leaves, I am not sure if I like the smoke from the smokebush, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’. It is a bit pretty, like coloured smoke from a disappointing firework. But I want to let it get substantial enough to see if I really dislike it or not. C c ‘Velvet Cloak’ is good, too.

I would like to add a couple more items to the limited purple-leaved list now I think I know how to grow them. The first is the North American redbud, Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’. Like the green-leaved version and the Judas tree, Cercis siliquastrum , it has pale pink flowers which could become a problem within our strictly jewel-colour scheme, but apparently in the cold and wet ‘Forest Pansy’ is reluctant to flower, which, for us, is good. It is a tree rather than a shrub but responds well to coppicing which makes the wine-red leaves grow much bigger.

Finally, there is a purple-leaved crab apple, Malus x ‘Lemoinei’ malus x purpurea . I have never seen even a picture of it, but crabs grow well for us. It apparently has an upright habit, wine-red flowers and purple leaves. However, according to Hillier Gardener’s Guide to Trees & Shrubs , ‘it is prone to bark split’. In the light of my attempts to grow other purple-leaved trees and shrubs, I should say that was the least of my worries.

Your roots

It is a very good time to be moving and planting small trees and shrubs. They move well because the roots are growing and they will quickly establish themselves in the soil as it warms up, but by the same token the leaves are rapidly growing and making great demands on the root system which, unless you are very careful, is inevitably reduced and damaged by the uprooting. The effects of this damage will not necessarily present itself immediately – in fact, shrubs that have been moved tend to suffer most towards the end of summer, when their leaves might well start to turn and drop prematurely. By then it is too late to do anything about this, although it is not a disaster and it will almost always behave normally in subsequent years. The best way to avoid it is to water copiously when you move it (at least a full bucket) and to prune back the top growth to reduce the demands on the newly transplanted roots. The rule of thumb is to make sure that there is as much in diameter under the ground as there is above it, so prune back radically if need be to achieve that balance.

Forest Pansy Tree Care – Tips On Growing A Forest Pansy Tree

Forest Pansy trees are a type of eastern redbud. The tree (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) gets its name from the attractive, pansy-like flowers that appear in spring. Read on for more information about the Forest Pansy redbud, including Forest Pansy tree care.

What are Forest Pansy Trees?

These are lovely small trees that work well in gardens and backyards. Forest Pansy redbuds offer lovely, shiny heart-shaped leaves that grow in purple-red. As they mature, they deepen to maroon.

The chief attraction of the trees, however, are the brightly colored flower blossoms that fill their canopies in early spring. These rose-purple, pea-like flowers are especially noticeable because they appear before the leaves emerge, not like that of other redbuds.

In time, the flowers evolve into seed pods. They are

flat, some 2-4 inches long and resemble snow peas.

Growing a Forest Pansy Tree

Forest Pansy redbud trees are native to eastern and central North America. They grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 8.

If you are thinking of growing a Forest Pansy tree, you need to know how large the tree will become when mature. It usually grows to about 20-30 feet tall and the horizontal branches spread some 25 feet wide.

When you start growing a Forest Pansy tree, you should choose its planting location with care. Forest Pansy redbuds do not transplant well, so be sure to place them appropriately.

These trees thrive in moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Pick a spot in partial shade if your summers are hot, in sunny locations if your summers are mild. A Forest Pansy redbud will grow in either sun or part shade.

Forest Pansy Tree Care

Irrigation is a key to Forest Pansy tree care. The tree does best in soil that gets regular, consistent moisture, although it is known to be drought resistant once its root system is established. It will decline in wet soil.

The Forest Pansy redbud is a low-maintenance tree that requires little care. It is not invasive and it tolerates deer, clay soil and drought. Hummingbirdsare attracted to its flowers.

Forest Pansy Redbud

The Call of the Wild

If your garden or landscape is missing that certain something, then you simply must consider the Forest Pansy Redbud.
Perfect in size, its medium stature–topping out at between 20 to 30 feet–will give you ample planting choices and work well with a variety of designs. The floral display will add a burst of color with a natural appeal that will brighten your garden and add warmth and charm like few other trees can.
Like A Beacon in Your Garden
The Forest Pansy’s smooth, gray branches stretch out vertically, hoisting gorgeous red, almost violet flowers to form a lovely canopy alive with vibrant color. The delicate petals fan out in wonderful clusters, attracting hummingbirds and other welcome visitors hovering for a look. It’s a spectacular show of color that will awaken your garden in early spring, weeks before most other blooms. Create a wildlife themed garden or naturalized landscape and the bees won’t be the only ones buzzing about it. Your envious neighbors will too.
The Show Must Go On
Just because spring gives way to summer doesn’t mean the Redbud’s job is done. Once fall arrives, your Forest Pansy will come alive with color again; but this time it’s the leaves that put on the show. Like lily pads suspended from stems among the branches, the green leaves begin to mix in splashes of yellow and orange to tantalize the eye.
Whether for your garden, landscape, walkway or patio, any place you choose to plant it would be vastly improved with the addition of a Forest Pansy Redbud.

Planting & Care

Choosing a location: The Redbud tree (or “Judas tree”) is a lovely harbinger of spring and has been referred to as “a breath of fresh air after a long winter.” What makes the redbud so special is its gift of spring color and its hardy adaptability. The purple pink flowers of the eastern redbud appear all over the tree in early spring and are even produced on the larger trunks. They do well in locations with full sun to partial shade (afternoon shade is best). A soil pH of about 7.5 is recommended as well as well draining soil. Avoid planting in areas that are prone to flooding or that collect standing water.

Planting Directions:

1) Select a site 6 to 8 feet from existing structures and about 3 feet from fences. Clear a 4 to 5 foot radius of any competing plants, weeds or grass.

2) Redbud roots establish quicker in loosened, aerated soil so spread about 4 inches of compost over the planting site to improve drainage and the soil texture. After digging your planting hole blend compost into the soil to around 1 foot deep and 3 feet in diameter using a shovel and/or spade fork.

3) Dig a planting hole for the redbud twice as wide as the diameter and as deep as the depth of the root ball. Rub the root system to loosen the outer roots. Fill the hole halfway with the removed soil and top it off with water. Fill it in the rest of the way and water again to settle the soil, using a total of about 15 gallons of water.

4) Spread 3 to 4 inches of mulch over the planting site but be sure it’s about 4 inches away from the base of the trunk to prevent fungus and rot. Mulch conserves water in the soil, adds nutrients as it breaks down and aids in weed prevention.

Watering: Watering a newly planted tree depends on things like the amount of rainfall you get in your area, temperatures and what season it is. When trees are newly planted their watering requirements are high but take care, root growth is slow in soil that is too wet or too dry. During the first year make sure to water your tree often enough to keep its soil moist yet not soaked. Pay close attention to your tree during the dry season, so that you can ensure that it receives enough water. Water later in the evening after the heat of the day has subsided. This way, the water will not evaporate immediately and the roots have a good chance at absorbing the moisture.

Pruning: To shape future growth, pruning redbud trees while they’re young is a must. Another reason to prune is to strengthen the connections of the main leaders to the trunk. Pruning helps form U-shaped junctions so the primary limbs can support leaves and flowers. Prune the tree in early summer after the tree is done blooming. Begin by removing any larger lower branches and branches that cross over each other or rub together. Cut off the branches close to the trunk without leaving any stubs. Stubs allow an entrance for disease and pests to enter. If several branches need to be removed, do it over a course of months so that the tree doesn’t go into shock of losing so much of its growth. In late winter, prune any dead and diseased wood. Cut out any tiny twigs and branches that have turned brown. Also, cut off any shoots that are coming up from the bottom or out of the trunk.

*Tip: Sterilize your pruning tools with a basic household rubbing alcohol to ensure a healthy cut during pruning.

Fertilizing: In early spring you can apply some compost and/or a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-5 in *granular form. Spread evenly around the root zone of the plant according to the label instructions. This combined with maintaining several inches of organic mulch year round should be sufficient to feed the soil and keep the tree healthy.

*Granular (or dry fertilizer) is a type of fertilizer, which comes in a dry pelleted form as opposed to spikes, a liquid, or powder.

Early settlers found the blossoms of the redbud a delicious addition to their salads. Early folk healers used the bark to treat common maladies and sometimes even leukemia. Many Native Americans chose the wood of the California redbud for constructing their bows. The sheer springtime beauty of the redbud may be its greatest hold on the American spirit and a wonderful addition of color to any landscape.

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Forest Pansy Redbud

What a perfect name for an excellent tree! Early spring flowers and fall colors are the hallmark of the Forest Pansy Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’).

You’ll be thrilled to begin your growing season with a blast of electric red purple flowers. The flower display can last for weeks long for you to enjoy. Think about it! Weeks of blooms to end the dreary winter season.

This hardy native tree is related to the Eastern Redbud. The common name of Redbud comes from those small reddish purple buds that grow along the stems, bringing the plant to life after winter. Forest Pansy is a cultivar of the wildly popular Redbud tree. This variety has the stellar qualities of the original, but the leaves are a more intensely red-purple hue.

You’ll know spring has arrived when your Redbud blooms. While much of your landscape still lies dormant, Forest Pansy Redbud will be covered with a profusion of flowering clusters. Early butterflies really appreciate this native nectar source.

The bright flowers are almost fluorescent when they bloom all along the smooth gray branches before any leaves emerge. You’ll be amazed by how they seem to emerge directly from the woody bark. You’ll get to really enjoy the wonderful presentation of rosy-pink flowers.

The color is darkest at the start, and as they age, they’ll finish to pink just as the foliage begins to unfurl. Snip a few of the fragrant blossoms to bring a little of that spring excitement indoors!

Let’s talk about those leaves. The tiny leaves grow into deep, shiny, leathery looking purple colored, heart-shaped leaves. What a special gift to give someone you love!

The shiny red-purple color of the new foliage darkens to an incredible maroon. As the season progresses, the dark, leathery, purple leaves will pick up a slight green overcast, yet still hold on to the overall purple color. It’s a strikingly modern display that works so well with all the vibrant perennials and shrubs available now.

The heart-shaped leaves introduce the next dramatic foliage color display in fall. Autumn arrives with the same intensity as spring, as your Redbud’s leaves transform to a profusion of reds, purples, and yellows.

This native accent tree has it all: spring, summer and fall color in one easy-to-care for ornamental tree. Order today!

How to Use Forest Pansy Redbud in the Landscape

This makes a spectacular spring accent tree near your home’s entrance or along a walkway or patio. Be sure to site it where you can see it from a window to maximize its positive impact for you. You’ll love seeing those blooms, even on a cool day in early spring.

Give it room to reach its mature height and arching spread. The spread of the wide, flat canopy is graceful and impactful. This makes it a perfect choice for use anchoring a garden bed.

Hang birdhouses on the lower branches and place feeders nearby. Use it to highlight a really special garden sculpture. Place a low-slung hammock, a magnificent large rock, or a child’s garden table and chair underneath it.

It will work beautifully in naturalized landscapes in informal groups. For this application, it looks best to choose an odd number of trees. 3, 5 or 7 planted in a gentle curve in an island garden bed make a spectacular “vista” or view from a deck. Use them to give precious sense of open, airy privacy near your patio.

They will look so beautiful planted at the edge of the woods. After all, that’s where you’d find them in nature! Make sure they receive sun for the best foliage color.

How about Forest Pansy Redbud used as a perfect single specimen plant? Its beautiful form and lovely ornamental features would be a welcome addition just about anywhere. Create a special retreat or Meditation Garden to gift yourself with time “communing” with this special tree. This would be a successful focal point in an Asian-inspired Japanese Garden, as well.

#ProPlantTips for Care

Overall, this Redbud is easy to care and tolerates many different soil conditions. However, all Redbud will enjoy careful watering as the roots are getting established. While they are relatively drought-tolerant after they are established, you’ll want to provide additional water as needed during the extreme drought.

They love well-drained soil, so don’t plant these too deep. Instead, make sure they grow at the same soil level they grew in at the nursery. If you have heavy clay soil, it’s better to “plant high” and mulch over their roots.

Mulch keeps the soil evenly moist and keeps the weeds at bay. Be careful not to put any mulch up against the trunk.

We highly recommend Nature Hills Root Booster placed in the bottom of the planting hole. This solution helps roots grow quickly into the native soil.

Prune to “limb up” old wood as needed to keep the lines clean and the interior of the plant nice and open for great air circulation.

What a wonderfully ornamental native tree. You’ll cherish this choice! Order yours today.

Common gardening mistakes

AS a long-time gardener, I reckon I’ve made my share of mistakes.

I’ve ignored the first appearance of oxalis in my garden and suffered a weed infestation of gigantic proportion.

I’ve fallen in love with beguiling nursery plants and impetuously bought, then been appalled by, their miserable deaths in the pot because I hadn’t anywhere to plant them.

I’ve had a pond of goldfish emptied in a day by marauding cranes because I didn’t provide them with protection.

And I’ve stupidly believed a newly planted Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, one of my all-time favourite trees (there’s little to beat its amazing heart-shaped burgundy leaves), could look after itself when I disappeared on a five-week summer holiday. It couldn’t. It burnt to a crisp.

The list goes on. You’ve got your own lists, I’m sure.

But, along the way, I reckon I’ve picked up some good ideas on plants, planting, setting up and maintaining a garden.

They’re the ideas I wished I’d known when I first started gardening.

Being the start of spring, when many are launching into projects, I’m sharing a few of those overriding ideas and concepts.

Some are commonsense. Most have been picked up from meeting and talking to gardeners and wandering their gardens.


Gardens are transitory. A garden is, basically, man’s way of sculpting nature into a pleasing form. Without the training, a garden quickly reverts to its natural, unfettered ways.

Nature is always the winner. Even the most stunning garden quickly goes downhill once the gardener is gone.

As country gardeners, we must recognise this. Sometimes it pays to select the best bits of nature and let them be. English gardener and des­igner Gertrude Jekyll called it “the art of leaving well alone” and our own Edna Walling put it to good use in her bush gardens.

Sure, manipulate for effect, but go with rather than against nature. It could be that group of self-seeding wattles, that natural water feature or an occurrence of exposed rock.


It’s been said a million times yet often we ignore it. Before laying out a garden or section of garden, learn the orientation of your site. Take your time. Watch how the sun moves across the area during all four seasons. Check where the weather comes from. Importantly, check where the summer sun is at its fiercest and ensure there are good shade trees. Do this and a sun-parched no-go area can become an inviting summer retreat of dappled shade.


When it comes to plants, variety isn’t always the spice of life. In country gardens especially, it’s often best to have 10 plants of the same type rather than 10 plants of different types.

You’re generally dealing with a larger palette so you want greater impact. That comes from mass planting specimens of the one species and colour.


Don’t waste time on disease-prone plants. Gardening life is too short. That rose bloom might look fabulous for a couple of weeks in spring but if its foliage is black spot-riddled for several months no matter how much you spray, get rid of it. Likewise, the plant that never performs to its best. Move it once, by all means. If no improvement, two strikes and it’s out.


Avoid bare soil. If soil is bare then nature will jump in, usually with weeds you’d rather not have. It’s far better to plant an appealing ground cover to keep weeds at bay.

Don’t be square

When designing a garden area, most instinctively opt for square or rectangular shapes. These can be perfectly acceptable but be aware that you don’t need to go symmetrical. Asymmetric can work perfectly well. Beds can be curved, adding a wonderful geometric dimension. Or consider a series of circular beds. If your country garden is on the smaller side, laying it out on the diagonal will give the feeling of extra space.

Ground zero

Plants and layout are important but ignore a garden’s “floor” at your own risk. It can make or break the look of a garden — and it’s what we walk on when wandering a garden. Getting paths and flat areas right is vital. Bricks, gravel, pavers, pine bark, contoured concrete whatever, always give extra care to choosing. Make a mistake and you’ll likely never corr­ect it.

Show some backbone

Create the plant backbone of your garden from perennials that grow best in your environment. Don’t waste time and risk heartbreak with ‘might grow, could grow’ plants. Your garden skeleton needs plants to shine year round.

Finally, know what YOU want in a garden. What calms and pleases YOU. Make a list to work through.

And, where possible, avoid trends. They’re generally quick-fix pleasures forgot tomorrow.

Gardens are for our souls. They enrich our lives, and we enjoy the wonderful experience of making them. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “to forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves”.


Eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis)
Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), also called Judas tree, is an outstanding, deciduous ornamental tree in South Carolina. This is a small tree native to the eastern United States and Canada, with lavender-pink blossoms that open early in spring and are as colorful as any flowering spring tree in the landscape. It is adapted to all areas of South Carolina.

Mature Height/Spread

Redbuds always remain small, maturing at 20 to 30 feet in height and 15 to 35 feet in width. They generally grow as a small tree with a divided trunk close to the ground. The spreading crown is usually rounded to flat-topped. It can develop as a multi-trunk shrub. Redbuds growing in the sun will be compact and rounded; when grown in shade, their form is loose, open and tall.

Growth Rate

Redbuds grow at a moderate rate, about 7 to 10 feet in five to six years. They tend to be short-lived, often declining from disease after about 20 years.

Ornamental Features

The most appealing feature of this tree is the showy flower, which is magenta in bud, but opens to lavender-pink before the leaves emerge early in spring. The flowers appear in clusters that nearly cover the bare branches of the tree. They remain for two to three weeks. They usually appear in early spring after the

Eastern redbud flowers (Cercis canadensis).
Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

white flowers of serviceberry and wild plum and before (and during) the white and pink flowers of the flowering dogwood. Although the flower of the species is lavender-pink, certain varieties and cultivars have white, magenta-pink or rosy pink flowers. The heart-shaped leaves are reddish as they emerge, and gradually turn dark green in summer. The fall color is yellow.

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) and its cultivars are from warmer parts of the Southwest. These all have similar flowers, but thicker leaves and more heat tolerance. However, they are less cold hardy than the straight species of Eastern redbud (C. canadensis).

The fruit are long, flat pods (3 inches) which are produced from late summer into fall, and remain on the tree during winter. They become conspicuous in the fall when the leaves drop, and can sometimes be unsightly when mature.

Eastern redbud seed pods (Cercis canadensis).
Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Landscape Use

This tree is best used in naturalized areas, where the flowers are contrasted against evergreens or woodlands. It can be used as a specimen or in groupings in a shrub border.

Although the redbud does well in most soil types, it prefers moist, well-drained sites. It does not, however, like those that are permanently wet. It tolerates acid or alkaline soils. It grows well in full sun but prefers some shade in the heat of summer. Although it will grow in fairly dense shade, it blooms more heavily when exposed to sun. Redbuds tolerate moderate dry spells, but do better when irrigated in summer dry spells.

Transplant when very small, as they have difficulty surviving, transplant after the root system has developed.

As redbud is native to such a wide range of climates, it is important that you purchase a tree that was grown from locally harvested seed. Trees grown from seed collected from trees native to South Carolina will adapt to our climate. If the seed were collected from trees grown in the north, the tree may not withstand the heat of our summer.

When located near a walkway or patio, low branches must be pruned for clearance beneath the canopy. It can be trained to grow with a single or multiple trunks. Prune out dead branches.


Redbuds are very susceptible to Botryosphaeria canker and dieback on the branches. This is a fungal disease that enters twigs and branches, feeds on the living tissue below the bark, and spreads around the stem. Once it encircles the branch, the water supply beyond that point is cut off to the leaves. The branch will suddenly wilt and die. Redbuds that are under drought stress will more easily succumb to Botryosphaeria canker than a well-watered tree.

Apply mulch out as far as the drip line of the limbs. Mulch will keep the soil cooler and more evenly moist in the summer. Pruning out the diseased branches and disposing of the cuttings will significantly help to reduce disease. Prune when the stems and foliage are dry. Cut the stem 6-8” below where any sunken, cracked or diseased area is, and disinfest the pruners between cuts with a spray of rubbing alcohol on the pruners. Water the plants well weekly. Fertilize them during the spring at six- week intervals with a slow-release tree & shrub fertilizer.

Wounds created by pruning or mechanical injury serve as entry points for the fungus that infects the wood and causes cankers. Avoid wounding to minimize susceptibility to this disease. There are no fungicides to control Botryosphaeria canker.

Insects such as granulate ambrosia beetle, black twig borer, treehoppers, caterpillars, scales and leafhoppers can also cause damage.

Upright Cultivars & Varieties

  • ‘Forest Pansy’ (PP#22,297) ̶ This is one of the earliest and most popular cultivars. It has deep burgundy foliage that loses its intense color in the heat of summer, becoming almost bronze Flowers are more rose purple than the species and open a little later. From NCSU).
  • ‘Merlot’ (PP#22,297) – Semi-upright habit with deep wine-red, thick foliage and heat tolerance. A hybrid of ‘Forest Pansy’ (purple foliage) and ‘Texas White’ (var. texensis). Cultivar has a dense, semi-upright habit and magenta-pink blooms. Cultivar grows to 12 to 15 feet tall and wide. Flowers are lavender-pink. Released by NCSU. Retention of purple leaf color in summer is similar to ‘Forest Pansy’.
  • ‘Ace of Hearts’ (PP#17,161) – Similar to species except flower color is much pinker. A compact tree that grows to 12 feet tall.
  • ‘Hearts of Gold’ (PP#17,740) ̶ Spring foliage is intense golden-yellow and gradually changes to chartreuses as the summer advances. More golden foliage in full sun. Grows to 15 feet tall with a vase-shaped habit. Cultivar has reddish-purple flowers; seedpods are rarely produced.
  • Carolina Sweetheart™ (‘NCCC1’; PP#27,712) – Following the pink flowers of spring, the foliage of this cultivar emerges rich maroon, and slowly change to shades of white, green, and hot pink. All leaves eventually turn green in summer with dusted white margins. Grows to 20 to 30 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet wide. From NCSU.
  • ‘Pink Pom Poms’ (PP#27,630) – This double flowered redbud is a hybrid of the double flowered ‘Flame’ Eastern redbud and ‘Oklahoma’ Texas redbud. The resulting cross has thick, glossy green foliage and dark pink-purple, double pom pom-like flowers. The cultivar is also sterile, so no seedpods are made.
  • The Rising Sun™ (‘JN2’; PP#21,451) – Foliage emerges rosy apricot, turns apricot-peach, gradually becomes golden yellow, and finally matures a bright green. Cultivar grows to 8 to 12 feet tall with a 12- to 15-foot spread. Flowers are pinkish purple.
  • ‘Alley Cat’ (PPAF) – Its leaves are green with white variegation. Grows to 20 feet tall and wide. Foliage is scorch resistant and does not revert to green. A selection from Kentucky.
  • ‘Appalachian Red’ Blooms are fuchsia-pink to red. Cultivar grows to 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. Very floriferous and blooms later than most other cultivars. A University of Tennessee release.
  • form alba – This is a white-flowered form that occurs somewhat frequently in nature. The foliage is a lighter green than the species and new growth is yellow-green. Comes true to type from seed if isolated from cross-pollination by the pink-flowered redbuds. Grows to 15 to 25 feet tall and wide.
  • ‘Royal White’ ̶ This cultivar has larger and more abundant flowers and a more compact form than the naturally occurring white form alba. Introduced by University of Illinois.
  • texensis ‘Texas White’ ̶ Glossy thick leaves and white flowers. Grows to 15 to 20 feet tall and may have multiple trunks. Cold hardy to USDA zone 6.
  • var. texensis ‘Oklahoma’ – Glossy thick leaves and lavender-pink flowers. Grows to 15 to 20 feet tall and may have multiple trunks. Cold hardy to USDA zone 6.

New reddish-purple foliage on ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud (Cercis canadensis). Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Purple-leafed ‘Merlot’ redbud (Cercis x ‘Merlot’). Photo by Dennis Werner, ©2013 NC State University

‘Merlot’ redbud (Cercis x ‘Merlot’) in bloom. Photo by Dennis Werner, ©2013 NC State University

‘Ace of Hearts’ redbud (Cercis canadensis) in bloom. Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2013 HGIC, Clemson Extension

‘Ace of Hearts’ (Cercis canadensis) redbud flowers. Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2013 HGIC, Clemson Extension

‘Hearts of Gold’ redbud (Cercis canadensis) showing chartreuse foliage. Photo by Karen Russ, ©2010 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Carolina Sweetheart™ redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘NCCC1’) has foliar variegation with various shades of white, green, and hot pink. Photo by Tom Ranney, ©2016 NC State University

‘Pink Pom Poms’ redbud (Cercis x ‘Pink Pom Poms’) is an improved redbud with ull double blooms. Dennis Werner, ©2016 NC State University

White-flowered redbud (Cercis canadensis var. alba). Photo by Karen Russ, ©2010 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Weeping Cultivars

  • texensis ‘Traveler’ – A selection with a broad mound shape and weeping (gracefully arching) branches. New leaves emerge coppery green, then become dark and glossy green; flowers are lavender-pink. Grows to 5 feet tall and 5 to 12 feet wide. Fruit set has not been observed.
  • ‘Covey’ (Lavender Twist™; PP#10,328) ̶ A weeping form with arching branches that creates an umbrella-shaped crown. Leaves are a rich green, and fall color is golden yellow. Grows to 5 to 6 feet tall with a 6- to 8-foot spread.
  • ‘Ruby Falls’ (PP#22,097) – Has a unique combination of dwarf, weeping growth habit and purple foliage. A hybrid of ‘Covey’ (weeping habit) and ‘Forest Pansy’ (purple foliage). By mid-summer, leaves change to a bronzy green. This compact weeping selection grows to 6 to 8 feet tall with a 5- to 6-foot spread. Released by NCSU.
  • Whitewater (‘NC2007-8’; PP#23,998) ̶ Leaves emerge mostly white, then become variegated white and green, and plant has a weeping growth habit. A hybrid of ‘Silver Cloud’ (variegated foliage) and ‘Covey’ (weeping habit). Flowers are a deep rose-purple. Cultivar grows to 8 feet tall with a 6-foot spread.
  • ‘Pink Heartbreaker®’ (PP#23,043) – This cultivar has a weeping habit and green foliage. Grows to 8 to 10 feet tall with a 10 to 15 foot spread. Profuse lavender-pink flowers. Introduced in Pennsylvania. Limited seed pod production.
  • Vanilla Twist™ (PP#22,744) – Weeping habit with green foliage and white flowers. A hybrid between ‘Royal White’ (white flowers) and ‘Covey’ (weeping habit). Grows to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Grows to 12 feet tall with an 8-foot spread.

‘Whitewater’ redbud (Cercis canadensis) with weeping growth habit and variegated foliage. Photo by Dennis Werner, ©2013 NC State University

‘Traveler’ weeping redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

‘Lavender Twist’ weeping redbud (Cercis canadensis). Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

‘Ruby Falls’ (Cercis x ‘Ruby Falls’) weeping redbud with purple foliage. Photo by Dennis Werner, ©2013 NC State University

Related Species

  • Chinese redbud (C. chinensis) ̶ This is a small, multi-stemmed shrub that grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. Its rosy purple flowers are showier and more profuse than Eastern Redbud. Leaves are also thicker.
  • Giant redbud (C. gigantea) – From China. Foliage is glossy and dark green. Leaves are 6 to 8 inches across. Grows to 15 to 20 feet tall.

Chinese redbud (Cercis chinensis) in bloom. Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2011 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Giant redbud (Cercis gigantea) in bloom. Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Note: Chemical control of diseases and insects on large trees is usually not feasible since adequate coverage of the foliage with a pesticide cannot be achieved.

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