Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a sign to start getting excited, another winter is ending! My work as a Virginia landscape designer takes me all over Virginia, and I love seeing those flashes of bright pinkish-purple blooms lighting up the still bare woods. If you don’t love redbuds you probably also don’t like fun.
The Eastern redbud is a marvelous landscape tree. Its native range extends from New Jersey all the way to Florida. Wait, does this explain why so many people from New York and New Jersey retire to Florida? It all makes sense!
Anyhow, I think where a lot of people get redbuds wrong is placement. People love to stick a redbud in a circle in the middle of the yard. Here in Culpeper, they’re in the middle of our traffic circles and a shopping center parking lot. Think about those conditions, and then think about where this lovely Virginia native tree pops up in the wild. A redbud is traditionally an understory tree. It likes growing among friends, especially big friends that provide a little shade. Think of that spot right where a meadow becomes forest – that’s a terrific spot for an Eastern redbud.
Redbuds will grow to 20-30 tall and a similar width. Don’t plant it right against the house! Bloom time is early spring – again, the woods are often still bare and open – and the blooms are a gorgeous shade of pinky purple. Redbuds also produce brown seed pods, but I’ve never considered them to be a messy tree.
In addition to the straight Cercis canadensis, there are some popular redbud cultivars. I’m a huge fan of Forest Pansy redbuds and Ruby Waterfall redbuds.