How to Prune California Redbud


California redbud or cercis orbiculata as it is known botanically, is a species of perennial flowering shrub or small tree belonging to the pea family. It is native to the Western United States and thrives in dry, rocky, sloping and foot hill habitats and is relatively drought tolerant. It is prized for its low maintenance and prolific spring flowers that bloom in a various shades from white to cerise pink to purple red over glossy leaves. California redbud has a naturally upright trunk and spreading canopy habit that are attractive and require little regular pruning. Pruning young trees to develop branch structure is helpful and annual cleaning of the canopy will keep the tree looking tidy.

Step 1

Look over your California redbud carefully every other time or so that you water the tree. Keep an eye out for damaged or dying branches and foliage or signs of disease. Cut away any of these that you throughout the year find and discard the the clippings.

Step 2

Conduct annual or biennial pruning in the late fall when the tree is dormant. Place all cuts outside of the branch collar on the parent branch making clean flush cuts parallel to the parent branch. Remove up to but no more than one-third of the redbud branch material in any one pruning session in order to reduce shock and stress on the tree.

Step 3

Remove branches that cross or abrade one another. Remove internal branching that congests the canopy and prevent goo sunlight penetration and air flow. Remove weak or stunted branches or those that are inward facing towards the trunk. Clean up all cuttings and debris from the soil below the tree to prevent conditions for disease to take hold.

Things You'll Need

  • Long handled loppers
  • Pole saw
  • Water


  • USDA Plant Database Profile
  • University of Idaho:Native Plants
  • University of Florida: Western Redbud
Keywords: Caliofnria red bud, Cercis orbiculata, prune cut back shape trim

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.