Have you noticed the redbuds? The native eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is one of the first trees to pop in spring. You can see it brightening up woodland edges driving along the road and in yards and neighborhoods. The redbud is a beautiful small tree that is a perfect understory plant in woodland gardens or plant anywhere in part sun to shade. They pair well with azaleas, mahonia, rhododendrons and camellias. The redbud’s best feature are the purplish-pink buds, loaded on it’s branches in early spring, which then open to tiny flowers before leaves appear. They tolerate a range of soils but it prefers well drained soils at a neutral pH. Once established, it is quite drought tolerant and will grow to 20-30 feet tall. Heart-shaped foliage is generally green but can be golden, purple or variegated depending on variety. The leaves of most varieties turn yellow in autumn.
Cultivars we Love
‘Carolina Sweetheart’ is a new and exciting variety for 2015! When buds emerge it may seem like a traditional redbud but it’s leaves, variegated in cream and pink, are what make this tree truly unique. The tri-colored leaves on this brand new cultivar are absolutely stunning!
‘Vanilla Twist’ featured a weeping habit, light green leaves and white flowers. A fantastic addition to the garden!
‘Merlot’ is a phenomenal new hybrid that raises the bar! Lustrous, dark purple foliage. It offers excellent drought tolerance and thicker, glossier leaves that stand up to summer heat. Tight, dense, semi-upright habit.
‘Rising Sun’ stands out with a beautiful golden leaf.
‘Ruby Falls’, ‘White Water’, ‘Lavender Twist’ & ‘Traveler’ are all weeping varieties. ‘Ruby Falls’ features gorgeous purple leaves and, as the name suggests, ‘White Water’ has white buds and flowers in place of the standard. The blooms of ‘Lavender Twist’ are a lighter purple.
‘Appalachian Red’ features brilliant fuchsia-pink near red flowers.
‘Forest Pansy’ features purple leaves (in three seasons) and blooms.
‘Royal White’ is an upright white variety.
‘Floating Clouds’ is a fantastic cultivar with an interesting variegated leaf!
To learn more about Chinese redbud, cercis chinensis, relative to the Eastern redbud, see this article here.