by P. Bieneman
Redbuds are an attractive native tree that blooms in early spring alongside dogwoods. They are quite showy with fuschia colored flowers displayed tightly against the branches in late April or early May. Cercis canadensis is the most common species and is a Maryland native. There are several non-native varieties and hybrids that are also available. All Cercis have distinctive cordate (heart-shaped) leaveswith that turn bright yellow in the autumn. They also produce attractive seed pods that mature to tan.
We offer a great selection of C. canadensis hybrids. A classic red-leafed redbud, ‘Forest Pansy’, is a favorite when a dramatic purple-leafed tree is needed. New selections for us include ‘Merlot’ a more compact red-leafed variety and ‘Ruby Falls’ a red-leafed, weeping form that is a show stopper in the landscape.
Cercis can take full sun to light shade and naturally grow on the forest edge. When siting them, take care to provide well drained, organically enriched soil. Cultivars such as ‘Merlot’ have great drought tolerance when established as they have Cercis canadensis var. texensis in their genes.
A stunning plant with a twist on redbuds is the whitebud or Cercis canadensis f. alba. This tree is rarely seen in the wild and sports pure white blooms. Like most redbuds, it matures to 20’.