The Right Redbud For You

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Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, put on a show this spring! It did not matter where, the redbuds were simply outstanding. Most of the flowers on Cercis canadensis even survived the cold of May 8-11 with little or no injury. Perhaps it was the shelter-in-place order that made spring flowers seem especially brilliant this year, or maybe they really were better than usual. Whatever the case, I am not going to complain!

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis grows best in soils that are moist, but well drained as it does not tolerate wet soils. Cercis canadensis is native to the understory but can be grown in full to part sun. Eastern Redbud can be grown as a single stem tree but is naturally found as a multi-stem tree. Cultivars are usually trained to a single stem. The species transplants best as a young plant.

Cercis canadensis


Cercis canadensis does suffer from some disease problems including canker, verticillium wilt, and dieback. Furthermore, there are several insects that can cause minor concern. Such insects and diseases, however, should not discourage you from planting a redbud where you are able.


Many cultivars exist on the market and there is certainly one that is right for you.


Time does not allow me to go into detail for every redbud listed below. Here are the cultivars that can be found at Secrest Arboretum:

Ace of Hearts
'Ace of Hearts': Small plant compared to the species with small leaves


f. alba: Naturally occuring variation with white Flowers


Alley Cat
'Alley Cat': Selection with variegated foliage


Appalachain red
'Appalachian Red': true pink buds and flowers

'Black Pearl': Deep red almost black glossy foliage.

'Forest Pansy': Old standard with red leaves

Ladender Twist
Lavender Twist®: The first weeping redbud.


Little Woody
'Little Woody': Dwarf cultivar


Luscious Lavender
Luscious Lavender™: Purple flowers with glossy summer foliage

'Merlot': Dark red foliage. An improvement over Forest Pansy.

Pauline Lily
'Pauline Lily': Not a great one selection. One for collectors. Muddy white flowers.
Pink heartbreaker
'Pink Heart Breaker': Broad weeping selection with stronger branches than Lavender Twist®
Pink Pom Poms
'Pink Pom Poms': A double flowering selection.
Royal White
'Royal White': Pure white flowering selection.
Ruby Falls
'Ruby Falls': Red leaves on a weeping plant.
Tennessee Pink
'Tennessee Pink': Pink-flamingo-pink flowers and buds.
The Rising Sun
The Rising Sun™: Bronze new grow with chartreuse foliage.

Note: The Rising Sun™ has weak branch angles and doesn't hold up will to wind and snow. The selection also has significant dieback each winter.

Vanilla twist
Vanilla Twist®: A white flowered, weeping selection.

The genus Cercis comes from the Greek Kerkis, which relates to shape of the seed pod resembling weaver’s rod or shuttle. Interestingly, the plant has limited distribution in Canada despite the species name canadensis. It is found on Pelee Island in Lake Erie and the southern part of Ontario.

To see the plants in person, stop by Secrest Arboretum!

Further Reading

Missouri Botanical Garden

Morton Arboretum

Trees of the Nothern United States and Canada. Farrar, John