Landscape Spotlight: Eastern Redbud, ‘cercis canadensis’

Posted May 30, 2019 in Plant and Tree

To know the Eastern Redbud is to love it and this blog may come off a little biased, because, well, we do know it and we do love it!  Noted for its showy spring buds and flowers, this deciduous tree is often multi-trunked with horizontally tiered branches, a rounded crown and is a sheer showstopper.

A North American native, the eastern redbud has a plant hardiness zone range of 4-9 (find your zone here) and is one of the very first trees to show the sign of life in the spring.  Growing 15-25’ tall and wide, this specimen tree is distinctly recognizable by its attractive deep lavender/pink/cream/purple pea-shaped blossoms that appear on leafless branches in March and April.  When I say appear on leafless branches, I literally mean a profound number of colorful clusters with no surrounding foliage competition, helping it stand out in the landscape.  In fact, eastern redbuds can thrive in filtered light, so they further standout in places that are bare or underwhelming in a landscape’s understory.

Moving beyond the spring season when the beautiful and bountiful buds start to fade, it is to great surprise that the leaves are almost just as distinguishable as the flowers!  Beginning as a reddish-purple right after the bloom, the 2-6” heart-shaped leaves turn a lovely shade of rich green for the summer and will eventually transition to a bright canary yellow and bronze in the fall.  To round-out its life cycle in the cooler months, the tree will produce seed pods where some remain on the branches and others drop to the ground.  These pods are wonderful sustenance for the wildlife, as they provide food for the birds and friendly critters in the winter.

This tree prefers moist and well-draining soil but also easily adapts in a range of site conditions and does well in most soil types and in different levels of sun exposure.  Eastern redbuds can tolerate dry spells but should be regularly watered in the hottest months if planted in direct sunlight.  A ring of moist mulch at the base of the tree will not only keep the roots cool but also looks polished and refined.  This tree doesn’t need much by means of trimming, but if you would like to maintain the tree’s structure and integrity, pruning weak branch forks and dead limbs right after flowering or in late fall while the tree is dormant will keep it healthy and attractive.

To introduce this lovely ornamental tree in your landscape, an early spring or early fall timeframe is best.  To give your selection the best growing conditions, plant in an area of full sun and room for mature height and spread.  Once installed, make sure to stake the tree until it is established and stick to a regular watering schedule for the first year.  Notably, eastern redbuds have few issues within the landscape and are fairly disease and pest resistant.  However, this tree is noticeably sensitive to weed killers, which will cause new growth to look puckered or tattered, so apply carefully around this backyard beauty.

Being that redbuds don’t mature to massive heights, they will work well at the back of a shrub or flower border or naturalized at the edge of a woodland border.  Its pleasing silhouette innately thrusts this tree into the limelight making it a beautiful focal point in the landscape.  For those considering a planting that elicits envy, we can say that you can’t go wrong with the eastern redbud!

MasterPLAN Outdoor Living seeks to inspire our clients through the creation of personalized and extraordinary outdoor living spaces that reflect the true architecture of the home blended beautifully with nature.  Striving to partner with our clients through their outdoor living journey, we believe that a comprehensive and timeless outdoor living design plan and meticulous implementation is all it takes to live your best life outdoors.

Serving the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey, MasterPLAN would love to help you uncover the true potential of your property.  When you are ready to open the conversation about your own outdoor living space, reach out to MasterPLAN…we would love to welcome you into the family!

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