There is probably no better way to welcome the beautiful spring season than growing stunning redbud trees that fully bloom in this very season.
Often referred to as the ‘tell-tale sign of spring,’ redbud is a deciduous tree that is native to Eastern North America. It grows in abundance from south to Northern Florida and can sometimes even extend as far as west California. It is also the state tree of Oklahoma.
Redbud trees belong to the family of flowering plants called Fabaceae (Leguminosae) which is also called the pea, legume, or bean family. The trees are best known and are very popular for their small pink blooms accompanied by large, heart-shaped leaves in varying colors. The leaves and flowers together create a spectacular canopy in gardens and other landscape spaces that look absolutely splendid.
Most of the redbud cultivars have colored foliage varieties that further enhance the overall beauty, look and appeal of these trees. The foliage color typically ranges between blue, green, burgundy, gold and chartreuse while the flowers usually sport a pink or white color.
The real beauty of redbud trees lies in the fact that every morning of the spring season, the sun throws its dazzling light on the dozens of clusters of redbud flowers that are fully unfurled, which makes them look like tiny, pink bursts of fireworks emerging from within the heart-shaped leaves.
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Redbuds are one of those low maintenance trees that don’t require extra or special kind of care. However, they do have some basic requirements in order for them to attain full bloom and reach their maximum growth height.
Redbud trees are very particular about growing in well-drained soil with just the right amount of moisture content. Most redbud varieties are incredibly drought-tolerant, and they don’t like getting too wet.
To see the best display of flowers on these trees, you must plant and grow them under a full sun because that is what will bring out the best foliage color and also produce the most exotic floral show. Although redbuds are fairly tough and can even thrive well in part shaded conditions, full sun is ideal for them.
The only apparent drawback of these trees is that they are quite sensitive to herbicides, which can significantly affect their growth.
Different Types of Redbud Trees
Although the redbud tree started off as a single type of tree, it soon branched out into various cultivars that have made it one of the most popular options for residential gardens. There have been many new and exciting recently discovered redbud varieties that have distinctive colored foliage and vibrant flowers. Some even have weeping growth habits.
Most notable for its striking foliage, the Forest Pansy redbud is a beautiful landscape tree that boasts a gorgeous scarlet-purple color. It is one of the most popular cultivars of the Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis) and is native to eastern and central North America.
Forest Pansy is a large, deciduous shrub or often a multi-stemmed tree that produces an abundance of stunning, pea-like, rosy pink flowers. Its rose-colored flowers offer an incredible contrast against the deep purple, burgundy foliage that retains its vibrant color throughout the summer. As the heat increases during the peak summer season, the gaudy purple transforms into a burgundy-toned green color.
This redbud variety grows to an average height of 20-30 feet and spreads about 25-35 feet wide. Its blooming period begins in April during which it produces clusters of shiny, heart-shaped leaves with brightly colored flower blossoms. The tree grows best in well-drained, moderately fertile soils that have a consistent amount of moisture. They also require full sun to part shade to attain their maximum height.
Given their eastern origin, Forest Pansy redbud trees are an ideal option for naturalized landscapes and wildlife gardens. They also create a great focal point when grown along gardens beds and borders.
The Rising Sun
This is an exciting deciduous tree that produces copious amounts of pea-like rose-lavender flowers during the early spring season. These beautiful flowers look splendid with their heart-shaped deep apricot leaves that sport a variety of gorgeous shades during the maturing process, including shades of orange, yellow and gold. The best part about this is that all these breathtaking colors are present at the same time, which is exactly why this variety of the redbud tree is called ‘the rising sun.’
The Rising Sun redbud tree is also known by other names including ‘Judas tree’ and ‘love tree.’ It grows to an average height of 12-15 feet and spreads almost 8 feet wide. Given its average height and width, this tree makes for an excellent addition to a small landscape.
The blooming period for the Rising Sun redbud tree begins during early spring, which makes it a spectacular and a hardy spring bloomer. Its fuchsia flowers grow first along the tree branches followed by attractive gold foliage that have hints of peach and light green throughout the growing season.
The tree prefers growing in average to moist soil conditions and does best in full sun to partial shade. It is an ideal candidate for mass planting and accent trees in a garden.
Beautiful all year round, the western redbud tree provides a four-season interest with masses of mesmerizing rose-purple blossoms that bloom in early spring. It is a highly ornamental, deciduous shrub that is native to the American Southwest region, particularly from California to Arizona and Utah.
Western redbud trees grow from 6 to 20 feet tall and spread almost 10 to 15 feet wide. This type of redbud produces brilliant magenta flowers that look stunning against its silvery-gray branches. This incredible color combination greatly attracts bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other native pollinators. The tiny heart-shaped leaves of this tree are a subtle, light green color during the start of the blooming season and as the tree matures over time, the leaves begin to boast a darker green shade.
One of the best characteristics of the western redbud tree is that it is tolerant to a number of types of soils including alkaline and clay soils, and is also incredibly drought-tolerant. However, it grows best in well-drained soils and requires full sun to partial shade conditions.
Since the western redbud is most popularly cultivated as an ornamental plant and tree, it is a great choice for wildlife gardens, parks, backyards and as street trees.
Also commonly known as ‘lavender twist,’ the Covey redbud tree is a small, weeping variety of the Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis). It grows to an average height that ranges between 4 to 10 feet while its width also falls between 4 to 10 feet.
The Covey redbud is a deciduous type of tree that makes for an excellent specimen tree for planting in small landscape areas and gardens. It is considered to be a fantastic variety with its slightly twisted branches, large heart-shaped leaves, and small, beautiful lavender-pink flowers that bloom in great abundance. They typically grow on bare wood on tiny leaf stalks. A distinctive feature of the Covey tree is that as the tree matures over time, its crown turns into a fascinating shape that somewhat resembles numerous types of Japanese maples.
Although the exact origin of the lavender twist or the Covey redbud is largely unknown, it does have quite an interesting history behind its name and existence. This plant was once gifted to a woman named Miss Cornelia Covey by her parents during the 1960s. She planted it in her front yard as part of a shrub border. It turned out to be the weeping redbud plant that the woman’s parents had once successfully propagated. Soon after her death, the tree named ‘Covey’ in her honor.
Spring is the most thriving period for this tree as it is smothered with a copious amount of pea-like, lilac-pink flowers that stand out beautifully against the bare, dark branches. It grows best in moist soils and full sun and is a spectacular addition to any garden border.
This redbud variety is also called ‘white redbud’ mainly because of its gorgeous, small, white flowers that completely smother the tree during the early spring season. Once the flowers bloom in profusion, they are followed by heart-shaped leaves that are initially a pretty shade of bronze, then they turn green, and then finally, a warm, radiant yellow during the autumn season.
The Alba redbud is described as a highly versatile tree that attains an average height of 15-20 feet in full sun to light shade. It requires well-drained and deep, moist types of soil to grow best and is a very low maintenance redbud variety. One of its most notable features is the spreading and flat-topped crown that looks incredibly graceful with the addition of ascending branches. The tree is native to eastern and central North America, particularly to the Great Lakes, the south of Texas, and also from Connecticut to New York.
You are most likely to find the Alba redbud tree growing in open woodlands, limestone glades, thickets, and along rocky streams. Since it is quite a rare form of a stunning native tree, you can also use it in a naturalized situation or even as a nice specimen.
The Silver Cloud redbud is often referred to as an unusual variegated redbud tree that has an uptight and a single-trunked growth habit and produces a modest kind of canopy. Its average landscape size is 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide. This redbud variety is native to middle North America, particularly from Southern Ontario to North Florida.
The tree produces beautiful, pea-like fuchsia flowers with very subtle silver undertones. It has extraordinary foliage that initially emerges as a mild and pale creamy pink color, after which, it transforms into a stunning pure cream. It is easily grown in well-drained soils that have an average to medium moisture content, and it does best in full sun to part shade conditions.
The blooming period of this tree begins in early spring, during which, fuchsia-colored flowers tightly hold on to the bare branches of the tree. The pink flowers look stunning against its shiny and soft green leaves that often have stark, white edges. This makes it a must-have ornamental tree for gardens and yards.
Silver Cloud looks absolutely magnificent when grown in gardens, especially when they are paired with chrome-leaved forsythia flowers, for instance.
Compared to other redbud varieties, the Mexican redbud tree is quite smaller in stature and is more drought-tolerant than the Texas redbud, for instance. It is a deciduous, multi-stemmed, small tree or shrub that grows to an average height ranging between 5-12 feet.
One of the most defining characteristics of the Mexican redbud is its leaves that are smaller, glossier, and more leathery with super wavy edges. It produces alluring rose-violet flowers that bloom best during the spring season. The shiny blue-green foliage appears right after the flowers, creating a stunning contrast that can greatly enhance any landscape and garden.
The autumn foliage of this tree typically glistens with a shimmery gold that makes the tree look exceptionally showy and extravagant. Mexican redbuds are considered to be one of those low maintenance redbud varieties since they don’t have very picky or particular growing requirements. However, like several other redbud varieties, these trees grow best in well-drained soils and have low to medium water requirements.
Just like every redbud has a special notable characteristic, the Ruby Falls redbud tree is best known for its weeping habit. It is a lovely compact kind of tree with a weeping canopy, making it ideal for small gardens and other similar-sized landscapes.
This is quite a new cultivar of the eastern redbud tree and works as an excellent specimen plant. It grows to an average height of 5-6 feet tall, making it perfect for lawns, naturalized landscapes, and woodland gardens. It produces striking red-purple flowers that bloom in great abundance at the start of the spring season.
The cascading beauty of this tree with a beautiful blend of reds and purples is what makes it truly stand out among other landscape plant varieties. Although Ruby Falls is a small flowering tree, it delivers a massive impact to your landscape as it is totally incomparable in terms of color, look, and appeal.
When growing the Ruby Falls redbud, it is essential that you provide it with all the correct growing conditions that it requires. They need full sun to part shade, well-drained and moist soils, and a weekly deep watering for the best growth. While you can plant them during any time of the year, spring and fall are two ideal seasons to grow them.
Best described as a distinctive dwarf redbud, the Ace of Hearts variety is perfect for small gardens and yards. It produces clusters of pea-like, light violet-pink blooms that grow during early spring. Its leaves have a unique heart shape, which is one reason why the plant is called ‘ace of hearts.’
This redbud variety has been called an ‘arboreal treasure’ given its ultimate splendor and vibrant colors. The tree grows up to 12 feet tall and spreads about 15 feet wide. It forms a dense canopy of dark green foliage that changes to a warm yellow color in the fall season. As the leaves drop during autumn, they reveal the incredible silhouette and the fascinating branching patterns that are so characteristic of this redbud tree.
The Ace of Hearts tree is exceptionally heat and drought tolerant and is vulnerable to very few diseases and infestations. This greatly contributes to its long life and also enables it to hold its dense dome-shaped canopy for many years.
When growing this redbud variety, it is ideal to provide the trees with well-drained garden soil, full to partial sun conditions, and a minimum of six hours of sunlight daily in order to ensure the perfect flowering period.
This is a phenomenal hybrid variety of the redbud tree which has been produced from the hybridization of the Texas White redbud and the Forest Pansy redbud. Naturally, it boasts qualities and characteristics of both those amazing redbud cultivars. Interestingly, it has been so named because its glossy leaves are the same stunning color as that of Merlot wine.
Merlot redbud produces lustrous, dark purple leaves that are incredibly thick and glossy. These leaves offer a mesmerizing contrast against the bright magenta-pink flowers that grow on bare branches. This alluring color combination makes this tree an excellent vintage plant option for most gardeners and garden enthusiasts.
The tree grows to an average height of 12 feet and spreads almost 15 feet wide. It has a semi-upright vase-shaped growing habit that makes it perfect for small yards and gardens. It fully blooms during the early spring season and has quite a vigorous growth rate.
The Merlot redbud tree requires well-drained soils and full sun in order to reach its maximum growing height and width. It also mostly prefers a wide range of soils, including loamy, clayey and sandy soil types. If you are looking for a small flowering tree with dark-colored foliage that grows best in hotter zones, this is the perfect option for you.
Hearts of Gold
True to its distinctive name, the Hearts of Gold tree is the first-ever redbud variety to have produced gold foliage! It is best known for its breathtaking golden-yellow foliage that transforms into a stunning chartreuse color as the tree grows and matures.
The Hearts of Gold redbud is a woody deciduous tree that is the first known gold-foliaged redbud in North America. It produces brilliant, pea-like, lavender-purple clusters of flowers that grow along bare branches, creating the perfect picture as it contrasts against the beautiful gold foliage. Its large heart-shaped leaves are super glossy and burn resistant even under full sun.
The tree grows to an average of 20-25 feet in height and spreads about 18 feet wide. Its dramatic foliage color greatly attracts butterflies, bees, and birds. Since the tree is an early spring harbinger, it is ideal as a specimen plant or for garden hedges. It has a tight, compact form, which makes it great for smaller gardens and landscapes. Not just that, but it also produces a dense and a compact dome-shaped canopy that looks dazzling in shade spots in gardens.
This redbud variety performs exceptionally well in well-drained soils that have a medium moisture content, and they thrive best in part shade during hot summer climates.
As the name suggests, the Texas White redbud tree is native to north-central Texas and Oklahoma and is considered to be one of the most unique redbud tree varieties. It is a stunning, small accent tree that produces bursts of elegant white flowers that bloom during early spring. The white flowers are eventually accompanied by glossy and thick, dark-green leaves that offer a dramatic contrast.
Texas White redbud tree is a deciduous tree with a rounded form, coarse texture and fine foliage that really set it apart from other landscape plants. The pristine white flowers of this tree look gorgeous with the shiny heart-shaped leaves that turn a beautiful shade of yellow during the fall season.
The tree grows to an average height of 20 feet and also spreads 20 feet wide. It is considered to be quite a low maintenance tree that requires well-drained soils with an average amount of moisture along with full sun or partial shade conditions.
Texas White redbud does well in average home landscape conditions and is highly tolerant of the urban population. Although it can also thrive in the inner city environments, it is best to plant the tree in a relatively sheltered condition. This redbud variety is often recommended for mass planting and general garden use.
Redbuds are truly brilliant additions to any garden, and they also work well with a variety of plants. They look great in groupings, foundation plantings and they make super fine lawn trees!